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Advocating for State and Local History: A Regional Case Study

Long Island History (Patchogue-Medford Library)

How should the history community advocate on its behalf? Perhaps instead of focusing at the state level for the advocacy for state and local history, one should think smaller. In this post, I wish to address the recent example by the Long Island history community and to make some suggestions about the next steps. Long Island is a region of millions so it is bigger than most of the other regions in New York State with the exception of New York City. It some ways, it may be considered comparable in size to a state.

A few months ago, an email notice went out announcing the Long Island Historian Summit.


You are cordially invited to a one-day summit of assigned Long Island county, town, city, borough and village historians.

According to the press report on the meeting (see below):

New York law requires that incorporated villages, towns and boroughs have their own historian, said Howard Kroplick, historian for the Town of North Hempstead and an event co-organizer. However, the law does not dictate what kinds of resources those historians should have or how the job should work. According to a survey Kroplick conducted of 22 village and nine town historians, job descriptions and salaries widely range. Most of the historians said they worked part time, and 27 percent never release any kind of report on the work they have done. More than 90 percent of village historians work from home and almost none are paid. Kroplick said his survey also found that the top two concerns among the surveyed historians were saving historic buildings and projects and obtaining funding and resources.

The purpose of the conference was to assist this particular segment of the history community.

This conditional invitation restricted the attendance to these municipal historians in Long Island. The invitation did not extend to the history community at large in Long Island. Other regions in New York have conducted regional history meetings under the rubric of the Association of Public Historians of New York State (APHNYS). My experience with them has been that meetings in the region were open to the general history community and to affiliate members of APHNYS such as myself. There is no right or wrong way to organize such meetings. It is at the discretion of each region. For a first time effort, it was reasonable to restrict the potential audience.

It should be noted that Long Island contains a huge number of villages, towns, and not-so-large cities, and two counties. According to Kroplick, of the 117 municipalities in the two counties, there are 72 appointed historians. The compliance rate with the state regulation is 62% meaning 38% of the municipalities are in violation of the law.

Since Brooklyn and Queens are part of the island, the borough historians were also invited.

The attendance was 65 people. That number far exceeds the regional meetings I have attended elsewhere even when open to the general history community. It was the largest meeting of Long Island historians ever and, according to Devin Lander, New York State historian, likely the largest gathering of local historians at a New York State regional meeting. Kudos to Long Island for showing up in force.


The Long Island Historian Summit, sponsored by the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation, will be held on Saturday, June 30, 2018 to provide an opportunity to discuss challenges, opportunities and experiences relevant to their positions.

One immediately notices here a critical element in the advocacy process – funding. A local Long Island foundation decided to sponsor the meeting. The Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation, provides financial support for historical preservation projects around Long Island. It supported a county history class at the Nassau Community College (a class every community college should offer). It funded and helped organize the event. A representative from that foundation is on my email distribution list. A few months ago, I had the chance to meet her at a regional meet-up held at the 9/11 Memorial organized by the Museum Association of New York (MANY). The Foundation definitely is interested in statewide advocacy and has been following the deteriorating situation in New York State. I reported on that subject in a series of blogs written before I attended the recent conference by the Massachusetts History Alliance. As will be seen, there is a lot which can be accomplished at the regional level rather than trying to embrace the state in its entirety.


The speakers and moderators included various government levels and different elements of the history community:

Devin Lander – New York State Historian
Thomas J. Ruller – Assistant Commissioner for Archives and New York State Archivist
The Honorable Peter Fox Cohalon – Suffolk County Historian
Howard Kroplick (Chairperson) – Town Historian of North Hempstead
Zach Studenroth – Village Historian of Southampton
Barbara Russell –Town Historian of Brookhaven
Dr. Georgette Grier-Keys – President, Board of Trustees of Association of Suffolk County Historical Societies.

The program itself besides the presentations by the two state representatives included sessions on

Funding – including preservation, conservation, and humanities
Resources – including archaeology by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, signs by a private funder of history signs, education by the Guilder Lehrman Institute, and preservation.

One key omission in this group was the Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) director for Long Island. In New York State, the state is divided into regions which compete for state funding. The process is derisively referred to as “Hunger Games” and its effectiveness as an actual job generator has been questioned. Nonetheless, it is the major game in town for state funding so it behooves the history community to reach out to it even though the odds are it will lead to nothing.


The meeting was covered by Newsday, the leading newspaper in Long Island. Obtaining such publicity was a great achievement. I wonder how many other such regional or state meetings are covered by the media. At minimum, the conference organizers should send press releases announcing the meeting and then reporting on it along with pictures the media can used to disseminate the results. Kudos to the Long Island municipal historians for getting such coverage.


Without intending to, the press coverage highlighted the two divergent approaches taken towards the history community. This dichotomy has been the subject of posts in the past. I have called it the Paul Tonko versus the Andrew Cuomo approaches based on the two politicians, one federal, one state, in New York. By this I mean, the role of history organizations as part of the social fabric, as part of the civic identity of community versus history organizations as economic generators through tourism.

Consider the contrast between these two comments as reported in the Newsday article.

Devin Lander, New York State historian and one of the event’s organizers: “The communities that do well and are drawing those tourists, they’re leaning on their history. It’s very important that we talk about the relevance of what we’re doing.”

Amy Folk, Southold Town historian: “The historian’s job is to look at the past and give context for the present and the future.”  This quotation followed the report by Newsday on the discussions:

Historians also emphasized how to explain the importance of their work to the community — preserving a village’s central historic church, for example, also benefits community services like day care centers and food pantries that use the space, they said.

While I have no objection to cultural heritage tourism, is that really viable for the average community historical society? Think of the planning and effort by the often volunteer staff to handle a school visit by a single class, by an entire grade, by more than 100 people. Do residential communities really want busloads of tourists driving through their communities on a daily basis? Sure the local food places would benefit, but is that the primary function of a municipal historical society – to generate tourism? Municipal historical societies like the local library and the local school or part of the social fabric of the community. The primary responsibility is to develop a sense of place, a sense of belonging, a sense of community, by connecting the residents to the story of the community from Ice Age to Global Warming.

True, this was a conference of municipal historians and not historical societies. However some governments own historical sites and a representative of the historical societies was present at the meeting.


The article concluded with an implication of what’s next.

Brookhaven Town Historian Barbara M. Russell said historical groups can thrive by coming together. Events like Saturday’s summit are key in making those connections happen, especially for smaller groups that can’t afford to make trips to Albany, where state resources are concentrated.

The next step for this convocation is to bring the state capital to the region. This is an election year. Long Island will be electing state legislators and senators. What a perfect opportunity for the history community to advocate on behalf of local and state history. I suspect some of the people attending the conference know their local politicians. Now is the time to arrange meetings with all the major candidates to discuss history concerns on their home turf and not at the state capital. I don’t mean to have a philosophical discussion on the merits of history. I mean to have specific “asks.”  You want this bill to be passed or to be rejected. You want the spending limits for this program to be increased. You want school curriculum to include local history at the elementary, junior, and high school level. Or whatever your agenda is. Now during this election year is the time to act. And when you meet with the candidates, make sure you know the number of people who are members of historical societies in that district. Numbers count.

Finally, you need someone who will lead this effort. This conference was led by Howard Kroplick, historian for the Town of North Hempstead. He comes from the business world and still has his mojo. He is looking to do things. It takes somewhat like that to make things happen. Here is an opportunity for him to take a leadership role in one region and create a template that can be used elsewhere. Here is an opportunity to develop at the regional level an effort which can led to a statewide effort. The history community certainly could use such a jolt.

The New York State Historian Position: Creating the New York State History Advisory Coalition

The investigation into the hiring of Devin Lander, former executive director of MANY and legislative aide to Assemblyman Engelbright continues by drilling down the state bureaucracy. In the previous post, the position of the Commissioner of Education was reviewed. Mary Ellen Elia had received an open letter from two prominent state historians about the state historian position. In this post, we consider what happened next.

The Commissioner did not respond directly to the letter.  The letter called for reinstating the Office of State Historian as an independent position, reporting directly to the Deputy Commissioner of Cultural Education. If the Commissioner of Education did not wish to respond, she had every right to delegate it to the Commissioner of Cultural Education.

In case you are not clear on exactly what that position is, there is an Office of Cultural Education. The name itself does not provide a clear indication of its areas of responsibilities. According to its website this department consists of the self-explanatory

New York State Archives
New York State Library
New York State museum which includes the state historian

and the less obvious

Office of Educational Television and Public Broadcasting which asks on the website “Are you surprised to find that your public television and radio stations are directly connected with the State Education Department?”

New York State Summer School of the Arts (NYSSSA) comprised of seven residential schools that offer four-week training in the specific disciplines of ballet, choral studies, dance, media arts, orchestral studies, theatre and visual arts at college campuses.

Only the website of the Library resembles that of the Office of Cultural Education itself and one may reasonably conclude that these entities have had a varied history before being lumped together here.

There is a Committee on Cultural Education within the Board of Regents. The Chair is Roger Tilles of Long Island. His contact information is He has spoken at MANY and attended the History Roundtable held by Assemblyman Engelbright on May 29, 2014, regarding the proposed NYS History Committee. I was at both events and have had some innocuous email exchanges with him. He definitely is someone for the History Community to contact regarding the position of the State Historian as well as the status of history in general in the state.

JudithJohnson from Westchester is another person on the committee to consider contacting ( She was a superintendent in the Peekskill school system. While there, she spoke at an Underground Railroad conference held in Peekskill. When a tree on the campus of the high school used in the Revolution to hang spies finally died, she mourned the loss as part of the heritage of the community. These actions are suggestive of someone who has an interest in history and how to bring local history to students.

The other members are:

Christine Cea, Staten Island (
James Cottrell, member at large, Brooklyn (
Judith Chin, Queens ( who is identified as a lifelong educator and was supervising superintendent in the NYC school system with an interest in immigration based on her own family history
Beverly Ouderkirk, North Country ( who is identified as having been a teacher, principal, and superintendent in a variety of locations throughout the state.

I have had no contact with any of them. This committee should not be ignored in the effort to strengthen the status of state and local history in the schools and communities of the state as well as in the state bureaucracy.

As for the position of the Deputy Commissioner for the Office of Cultural Education, it is vacant at present. The proposed Office of New York State Historian probably would report to this person parallel with the Archives, Library, and Museum as Judy Wellman and Carol Kammen suggested in their correspondence. They recommended that decisions about the state historian position be deferred until this position was filled. However, as it turned out there were regulatory constraints best known to those inside the Albany bubble requiring filling the state historian position by May 19 and that deadline took priority.

This meant if Commissioner of Education Mary Ellen Elia wanted to delegate responding to the letter from Carol and Judy, there effectively was no one to delegate it to. The request being made was to elevate the present position of the state historian to the position reporting directly to the presently-vacant Deputy Commissioner for Cultural Education. For Mary Ellen to delegate the response to Mark Schaming, the Director of the State Museum was inappropriate. Even if he agrees whole heartedly with the request, he does not have the authority to comply with it: he can not elevate a position to his own level or to direct reporting to the Deputy Commissioner of Cultural Education. Presumably that individual could once hired if so inclined but Mark can not.

Why then did Mary Ellen delegate the response to someone who lacks the authority to act on it? Did she not understand what was being asked? Did a staff assistant who screens the mail to her simply tell her the subject was the state historian position so she delegated it without reading it? Did she read and understand the request, reject it, and delegate it to Mark to write the brushoff? There is insufficient information available to me to make this determination but no matter which of the three it is, it reflects poorly on her.

As for Mark’s response, much of it is standard blather jargon thanking you for writing without engaging the actual letter. There is nothing personal in this, it is simply standard operating procedure within the government especially if you are asking someone to do something different.

Mark’s response to Judy and Carol contributed to a post by former State Historian Bob Weible on New York History Blog on May 10,  What’sNext for the New York State Historian? In his post, he characterized the response rather harshly:

His inept and condescending response simply thanked Kammen and Wellman for their interest and clumsily assured them that things were being handled appropriately. He never answered the question of why the department chose to ignore its 2011 Regents-approved strategic plan to “reinvent” the Office of State History.

To be fair to Mark, he has no authority to reinvent that Office. He never should have been charged with responding to the letter in the first place. The responsibility belongs higher up with the Commissioner of Education who delegated when she should have taken charge. The tone of Bob’s comment also sheds light on the background of his abrupt departure last summer immediately after the New York State History Conference. It is reasonable to conclude that these two people had come to a parting of the ways perhaps even about the very position of the state historian.

Bob also referred to a letter from the New York Academy of History (NYAH) to Governor Cuomo advocating for a more vigorous effort on behalf of New York State history. I had the good fortune of having lunch with Ken Jackson, the founder and president of the organization, and Lisa Keller, a board member, at the annual meeting of the Greater Hudson Heritage Network last October when he delivered the keynote address. I’d like to think given our discussion that I played some role in the generation of the letter to Cuomo which also seems to have gone nowhere…and this from the person who gave the opening address when the Path through History project was rolled out on August 28, 2012 (as to what he said about the project three years later in his keynote at the GHHN is best left unreported!).

What then should the history community do now? One of the suggestions to Cuomo was the creation of an Advisory Board consisting of professional historians. According to the website of NYAH its own advisory board consists of:

Kenneth T. Jackson (Committee Chair), Barzun Professor of History, Columbia University
Carol Berkin, Distinguished Professor of History Emerita, Baruch College
Laurence Hauptman, SUNY Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History
Lisa Keller, Professor of History, Purchase College SUNY
Susan Lewis, Associate Professor, Deputy Chair and Graduate Advisor, Department of History, SUNY New Paltz
Dr. Dennis J. Maika, New Netherland Institute.

Expanding on that list of concerned historians, the open letter of Carol and Judy was sent to:

Rose Harvey, Commissioner, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation
Thomas J. Ruller, Archivist, New York State Archives
Gavin Landry, Director, I Love New York

Amie Alden, Executive Chair, Government Appointed Historians of Western New York
Paul D’Ambrosio, President and CEO, New York State Historical Association
Jay DeLorenzo, Executive Director, Preservation League of New York State
Carol Faulkner, President, Upstate New York Women’s History Group
Peter Feinman, Institute of History, Archaeology, and Education (blogger)
Lynn (Spike) Herzing, Director, New York Cultural and Heritage Tourism Network
Carol Kammen, Historian, Tompkins CountyLisa Keller, New York Academy of History
Devin Lander, Executive Director, Museum Association of New York [now the State historian]
Sara Ogger, New York Humanities Council
Gerry Smith, President, Association of Public Historians, New York State
John Warren, New York History Blog
Judith Wellman Director, Historical New York Research Associates.

Some additional individuals in the private sector with a statewide perspective to be considered for an advisory board are

Robert E. Bullock, The Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government
Bruce Dearstyne, former archivist and author/blogger/columnist
John McEneny, former municipal historian and state legislator
Bob Weible, former state historian

and representatives from the New York State Archaeological Association/New York Archaeological Council and New York State Council of Social Studies among others.

Carol and Judy had to write an open letter because there is no venue through which to express their concerns. There is no state-wide organization advocating on behalf of the history community. I recommend that the history community take it upon itself to form such an advisory group rather than wait for the Governor’s permission to do. The New York State History Advisory Coalition consist of state-minded representatives of the history committee who meet on a quarterly basis in Albany to discuss, develop, and advocate with the State legislature, State Education Department, Board of Regents, NYSOPRHP as appropriate in support of a history agenda in New York State. Topics for consideration by such a group include but are not limited to:

1. The position of the State Historian including staff, resources, and funding

2. The duties and responsibilities of the municipal historians including training, funding, and revised guidelines

3. The place of state and local history in the k-12 curriculum and the training, certification, and professional development of teachers accordingly

4. The development and promotion of the history heritage of the state for cultural heritage tourism so for example people watching AMC’s “Turn” about Washington’s spy ring in Long Island don’t just see ads for “Virginia is for Lovers” but are directed to real New York Paths through History about the State’s role in the American Revolution

5. Establishing funding sources through the REDC process for anniversaries, state heritage areas, and Paths through History that encourage cooperation and collaboration so they aren’t merely jargon buzz words but the State puts its money where its mouth is.

6.  Connecting the residents of the state to their local and state history as a matter of civics to enhance the social fabric so we can live with each other as fellow New Yorkers.

7. Maintaining a database of the academic publications related to state history and supporting the conferences, symposia, and history weekends which are held throughout the state.

Suggestions welcomed. Comments appreciated. Who is willing to host the first meeting? Who would attend?

The Commissioner of Education and the NYS Historian

At present the position of the New York State Historians lies deep within the bowels of the state bureaucracy, starved for resources, and scarcely able to see the light of day through all the bureaucratic levels above it.

Formerly, the State Historian reported to the Director of the New York State Museum, who reports to the Deputy Commissioner for the Office of Culture and Education, who reports to the Executive Deputy Commissioner of Education, who reports to Commissioner of Education, who answers to the Board of Regents.

But what does that mean? Continue reading “The Commissioner of Education and the NYS Historian”

New York State Historian: The Weible Years

A Fitting Title for the Situation in Albany

New York State now has a new historian. In some ways that should seem like a routine announcement since the State is required to fill that position. However as people in the history community well know, the State, like many counties, cities, towns, and villages does not always comply with regulatory requirements. There is no penalty to the State for the failure to comply either and only a trivial unenforced one at the municipal level.

Even when the State and the municipalities do comply with the letter of the law, they don’t necessarily comply with the spirit. The position is often disrespected and/or disregarded excluding some ceremonial occasions and is not taken seriously when the real decisions of government are involved. The diminished State position sets a poor but accurate example to the county executives, mayors, and town supervisors that local and state history really aren’t important regardless of any lip service at the press release level. How often is the voice of the history community actually heard in the REDC funding process [which is now beginning again for the 2016 cycle]. How much funding is there for collaboration in the Path through History project regardless of how often the jargon is spoken? Message received.

On the other hand, how often does the history community make its voice heard? Does it even have one? How often does the history collaboratively ask for anything?

With these thoughts in mind, let’s consider the latest chapter in the story of the New York State Historian: the Bob Weible years. Just to put things in perspective, here are some excerpts from the press release by the NYS Museum on February 4, 2008, announcing Bob as the new state historian. According to the State:

Weible was selected following an exhaustive search that began in 2006 as soon as funds became available for the position. Following the budget crisis of the 90’s the Museum has faced an uphill battle to obtain the funds necessary to rebuild capacity as several key positions were vacated due to retirement and other budgetary factors.

The heroic State Museum persevered against all odds and finally prevailed despite the adversity.

However, Bob paints a different picture in his post to New York History Blog on Former NYS Historian Weible On State Ed Bureaucracy, Responsibilities on February 22, 2016:

State Historians subsequently fought through various internal reorganizations to meet external as well as internal demands, but the position lost support and became vacant in 2001. And it remained so until 2008, when pressure from county and municipal historians persuaded the State Education Department to fill the vacancy.

Note the different in emphases in the two versions: budgetary concerns versus a degradation of the position until the grassroots history community forced a changed. The State Museum versus the State Education Department. What really happened? Here is an interesting historical challenge for historians of public history in New York to investigate.

Turning to the individual who would fill the long-vacant position, the press release stated:

A native New Yorker and nationally recognized historian, who has held various leadership positions on the state and national level for the past 28 years, has been appointed the new chief historian.

“Robert is a public historian who has built strong partnerships throughout his career with diverse community groups, universities, cultural organizations and local historical societies,” said Museum Director Dr. Clifford Siegfried. 

Siegfried specifically cited him “for the renewal of the Museum galleries and the transfer of our extensive history collection to a new storage facility” which gives a pretty good indication of what his real work would be along with the new exhibits in the Museum.

The press release went to state that the new historian “also will work with local historians and academic and cultural institutions to increase the public’s understanding of New York State history and its role in U.S. history.”  In English, this meant about 25% of his time.

The tricky part was in the second “also”: He will also oversee management of the Museum’s history collections and help develop content for public programs and teacher workshops. Public programs and teacher workshops?? I know I initiated a couple of them in the New York State Museum with Bob, but I would say overall this is an area that needs serious work.

Here is how Bob described the situation in his February 22, 2016, blog:

But the decision to combine two very different positions into one was really a kind of bureaucratic sleight-of-hand: the State Historian position may have been officially filled, but as was made clear to me, the Museum’s institutional priority had remained the same: research and collections care.

Bob generously acknowledged the budgetary constraints on the state government in general and added his own perspective:

But it is true that without proper leadership and public support, bureaucrats can easily lose sight of the larger social goals their organizations were created to achieve and become nihilistic, self-serving careerists dedicated simply to perpetuating their positions and authority.

By referencing proper leadership and public support, Bob addresses the two sides of the dynamic: leadership from the top meaning the Governor and advocates from the grassroots meaning the history community. While it’s easy to fault our Governor for his lack of support beyond signs and fixing roofs, it is also true that the history community doesn’t ask for anything beyond signs for its own site and fixing the roof of its own site. The requests of the history community tend to be small and local, lacking in statewide vision and ignore the necessity of civics for the health of the social fabric.

During his tenure as State Historian, Bob had the opportunity to discuss some of these issues.

On March 17, 2014, in Saratoga Springs at the annual meeting of the Association of Public Historians of New York State (APHNYS) in his State of the State’s History address, Bob called for the need to cooperate. He challenged the attendees with the declaration that if we can learn to work cooperatively with each other we can find out how powerful we are. He said that history is what unites us as Americans, as New Yorkers, as members of our local community. He equated a community that forgets its past with a person with Alzheimer’s. A community’s memory is important for identity, for pride of place, for a strong sense of place. Advertising is not enough for quality heritage tourism. Civics needs to be taught in our schools. With these thoughts, the State Historian had raised important issues about:

  1. the dysfunctional organization of the State
  2. the funding or lack thereof for state and local history particularly for cooperative and collaborative projects
  3. what the history community can contribute to the economic growth and social wellbeing of the state.

But like the proverbial tree falling in woods that no one hears fall, Bob’s words in Saratoga Springs were not heard in Albany.

One year later he returned to some of these issues in his State of the State’s History address on April 10, 2015, at the APHNYS conference in Corning. He spoke about the history markers, a favorite topic of his, about the lack of a state database of history markers, about how they promote tourism and the way people think about their own community. He spoke of the underutilization of heritage resources and the lackluster historical presentations on behalf of heritage tourism. He called for innovative and engaging history storytelling that would reinforce community identity and attract visitors seeking an authentic experience. But once again he was the proverbial tree falling in the woods that no one hears fall. Bob’s words in Corning were not heard in Albany.

On March 30, 2016, Bob tried to make sure he would be heard in Albany. In an article published in the Albany Times Union entitled New York State’s Former Chief Historian Warns the Bureaucracy Is Putting History at Risk, Bob spoke publicly now that he was free of bureaucratic constraints and the necessity to know his place and mind his business. His tale of woe included the observation that “The state once led the nation in creating and supporting institutions that ensured the survival and use of historic documents, artifacts, buildings and sites.” Times changed and now “New York has also witnessed the dismantling of a unique network of historians that had long enabled both classroom and lifelong learners to become informed, more active citizens.”

He repeated the charge he levied in his February post to New York History Blog on how the grassroots push was the driving force behind the State finally complying with Stare regulations and filling the position of state historian. Then with the exquisite subtlety of a maestro at work, he gently said:

The bottom line here is that, without proper leadership, New York’s entire history community has for decades been compromised in its ability to live up to its public service responsibilities.

Again there is the juxtaposition of the State and the history community with the abdication of the State of its responsibilities as the primary problem. He then asked:

Can the situation be reversed?

Bob even provided a solution to the problem:

In 2011, the Board of Regents approved a plan to investigate the possibility of reinventing the Office of State History. Unfortunately, internal opposition has kept that from happening. And after my recent retirement, the museum even announced plans to downgrade — and further undermine — the state historian position. Not surprisingly, this idea has raised serious questions within the state’s history community.

Bob is more optimistic than I am. While I prefer to be optimistic I have zero confidence that the State on its own initiative will do the right thing after decades of dismal neglect. Nothing in the REDC process or the Path through History project as they have operated so far suggests any serious interest in nurturing, developing, and promoting state and local history for the health of the social fabric or the growth of the economy. I also have grave doubts over whether the history community itself can make its voice heard and advocate in Albany. Nonetheless, some people are trying to be heard in what the AAA calls “Albany’s Alice-in-Wonderland environment.” Those efforts related to the State Historian position will be the subject of a future post.


Bob Weible’s Swan Song

RIP The Path Through History Taskforce

Once upon a time, as all good fairy tales begin, there was a New York State Path through History Taskforce. Some of you may even remember it. August 28, 2015, marked the three-year anniversary of the failed project and since the NYS Historian who was a member of that taskforce has resigned, it is beneficial to examine the fate of this taskforce for the lessons it teaches about what happened. Will we learn from the past or are we condemned to repeat it?

At the kickoff event for the Path project, attendees received two glossy, multicolored booklets. One had a list of the “iconic highway signage” which was to be produced; the other had the conference agenda, a description of the regions with a listing of the selected sites, and the taskforce bios. Continue reading “RIP The Path Through History Taskforce”

Whither The New York State Historian?

The sudden retirement of Bob Weible, the New York State Historian, provides an opportunity to reassess the position. What does the history community want from the state historian – assuming there even should be one in the first place? Continue reading “Whither The New York State Historian?”

The State of the Municipal Historian

New York prides itself as being the only state in the country to require each municipality to have an historian. Unfortunately, besides taking pride in this action, the State does little or nothing to support those historians.

In previous posts, I have reported the following based on an analysis of a download of the municipal listings from the Association of Public Historians of New York State (APHNYS): Continue reading “The State of the Municipal Historian”

The State of Municipal Historians in New York

new-york-county-mapNew York State requires every municipality to have a historian. This means every village, every town, every city, every county, and, of course, at the state level. Hamlets can ponder “should we or should we not have an historian, that is the question” but they are not legally obligated to have one. Nor are neighborhoods. That might seem self-evident outside New York City, but one should realize that the neighborhoods in the city can be substantially larger than even some cities.

Naturally, even when you are required to have a historian by state law there is no assistance from the state in support of that position. It is an unfunded mandate.

Let’s examine the state of these municipal historians. Continue reading “The State of Municipal Historians in New York”