Brian Jennings's blog
We have a new local history email list to keep you apprised of new programming and resources related to local history. We just released our first issue which you can read online here. The highlights of this month’s newsletter are a lecture in January 27th about the Civil War in Rockland County, a new display on the lost hamlet of Sandyfield curated by members of the Historical Society of the Palisades Interstate Park Region and the announcement that an Outreach grant from the Ramapo Catskill Library System will help us continue collecting oral history interviews and create programs from these audio interviews. Sign up for the local history email list here:
It's Veterans Day and the New City Library is open regular hours. While you enjoy the day, listen to the Rockland County Director of Veterans Affairs Jerry Donnellan's oral history interview on HRVH or the short story below from that interview.
In September we collected 13 oral histories from long time residents of Rockland County thanks in part to a grant from the Library Association of Rockland County. We now have a web page devoted to our new oral histories where you can start to listen to some clips. Check it out at http://newcitylibrary.org/oralhistory. For October we are highlighting a story from Tom Schassler of Stony Point. Tom visited me my first day working in the Rockland Room to do some research for one of his historic preservation efforts up in Stony Point. This story from Tom is a perfect one for Autumn.
Get a sneak peek from one of our interviews from this past weekend on Soundcloud. Picture a ten-foot stainless steel cube, balancing on its edge. The surrounding area are mirrored in the metallic sides of this beautiful piece of modern sculpture. Suddenly the door opens to reveal a comfortable, soundproof recording booth. Welcome to The Cube.
We have a small exhibit in the library about Clarkstown and the Civil War through the end of November. You can find it in the exhibit case past the DVDs heading toward the Rockland Room. There is also an online exhibit with more information at http://rocklandroom.omeka.net/exhibits/show/civilwar. Highlights include the story of General Louis Blenker who owned a farm in New City, a look at brothers who served in the Civil War from Clarkstown, and some information about African American veterans buried at Mt. Moor Cemetery which is surrounded by the Palisades Center Mall.
Last Friday I hosted an introductory class on the topic of Personal Digital Archiving. The Library of Congress has been the leader in this burgeoning movement, so we started by watching a film by them which I am embedding below. As the use of technology for taking photographs, videos, etc. becomes more prevalent, it is important to begin to think seriously about how we will save and preserve those "born digital" memories. In addition, many people who came to the class were interested in scanning their photographs and creating new digital images. We discussed both of these scenarios and outlined the basic 4 steps to consider when beginning a personal digital archiving project:
1. Identify what you want to save
2. Decide what is most important to save
3. Organize your collection
4. Backup copies in different places
On July 29th at 2pm I will be offering the second of a series of classes discussing the vast and ever-increasing local history resources available to the public online. You can view the prezi for this course online here. We will discuss local newspapers online, photographs and postcards, Ancestry.com, and what's coming soon. One particularly interesting site I have been working with is Historypin, this site (and the accompanying app) allows you to pin images to a Google Map. I used it to pin a photo of each of the Historic markers in Clarkstown to a map. Learn more on July 29th.
Memorial Day or Decoration Day as it was originally known began after the Civil War as mourners decorated the graves of soldiers lost in the war. Approximately 620,000 soliders lost their lives in the war with about 60% of the casualties from the North and 40% from the South. David Blight tells us of the beginnings of this holiday and more in his book Race and Reunion: the Civil War in American Memory on pages 65-70. I recently created a guide that lists some of our best books on the American Civil War -
What was happening in Rockland County 150 years ago? You can read the digitized issues of the Rockland County Messenger online at http://news.hrvh.org. The editor of the Messenger bragged about the quality of the Steamboat service as the ships returned to service after the winter in an article entitled "Our Steamboats". This weekly newspaper published the schedule for the steamships on the back page of each issue.
What’s that cemetery doing at the Palisades Mall? What is the history behind it? This is one of the common questions in the Rockland local history community which pops up from time to time. The subject is the topic of Bill Batson’s excellent Nyack Sketch Log column today. This segregated African American cemetery is a reminder of the bloody conflict which nearly tore our nation apart 150 years ago as there are many African American veterans of the Civil War buried there.