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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

“More Life and Less Latin”: The GEB, Model Schools, and Vocational Education

By Nancy Adgent @2012. All rights reserved by the author.

Frederick T. Gates,
   GEB Chairman
Several researchers have studied the General Education Board’s work in the rural South, yet little attention has been given to the GEB’s initiatives elsewhere. Established in 1903 by John D. Rockefeller to aid education in the U.S. "without distinction of race, sex or creed," the Board’s primary purpose was to improve the South’s agrarian economy by educating poor rural children, especially blacks; however, the GEB funded education projects and institutions countrywide. In the early 20th Century, as states mandated school tax support and attendance, student populations increased, producing a corresponding rise in expenditures, causing taxpayer outcries, and forcing states to seek private aid and ways to economize. One popular solution was to consolidate schools, particularly in rural areas. New requirements for teacher certification, building standards, and inclusion of vocational courses added to burgeoning costs. GEB records trace these shifts in philosophy and document the Board’s role in shaping contemporary education.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Harry Hill – Saloon Fighting’s P.T. Barnum

by Fred Buchstein
Copyright ©2012. All rights reserved by the author

Harry Hill
courtesy of the New York Public Library,
 image ID: th-20952
P.T Barnum, Thomas Alva Edison and Diamond Jim Brady flocked to Harry Hill's legendary 19th century saloon in New York City for the prizefights and other popular entertainments. Boxers included the future heavyweight boxing champion John L. Sullivan, the first female boxing champion Nell Saunders, and famed wrestler and later New York City boxing commissioner, William Muldoon. Future Black world champion boxer, George Godfrey, made his first professional appearance at Hill's saloon.

Moral reformers considered Hill's saloon a hotbed of vice and debauchery --a portal to the gates of Hell and a well-known resort for criminals and prostitutes. In his obituary, The New York Times (August 28, 1896) described Hill's saloon as a gathering place for "the most desperate and criminal persons of the city."

Hill (1827-1886), an English horseman, immigrated to New York to manage a wealthy industrialist's stables. He eventually became a very rich saloon keeper, sportsman and showman. In his obituary, some newspapers said Hill was " one time the best known sporting man in the United States, and up to 12 or 15 years ago the wealthiest." The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington, reported in an April 6, 1896 article, that "...the receipts of the place averaged $6,000 a day, and more than half of it was clear profit." Then, he was worth close to $1,000,000; a statement he said was only half true. At times, he owned two hotels, horses, steamboats, and a large art collection. He was well connected with the Tammany Hall Democratic political machine in New York City, which was noted for corruption and graft. He also wrestled, wrote poetry and rhymes, collected expensive art, published a souvenir songster, and held religious services in his place.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

‘Street Arabs, Gutter Snipes, Waifs’: The Problem of Wayward, Abandoned and Destitute Children in New York City, 1840-1920

Copyright ©2012. All rights reserved by the author

“The ‘street Arab’ is a very Bedouin in the midst of the thronging city multitude,” observed George C. Needham, a prominent evangelist, in his 1884 study of wayward children, the “neglected and destitute,” of America’s cities. Needham was one of a handful of social reformers, driven by Christian principles and a strong sense of civic responsibility, who called attention to the plight of the abandoned and destitute youngsters and who were involved in programs to combat this growing phenomenon.[1] Already in February 1853, three decades prior to the publication of Needham’s book, a group of New York City reformers, led by Charles Loring Brace, established the Children’s Aid Society (CAS) to combat precisely this problem.[2] Compelled by the belief that “something be done to meet the increasing crime and poverty among the destitute children of New York,” Brace had observed the poor and homeless who clustered on streets in various parts of the city and whose numbers were continuously being replenished by the ships arriving daily with immigrants. Some youths came as stowaways.[3] Those disembarking from the over-crowded vessels, the CAS asserted already in its Third Annual Report, fed the “poor and criminal classes,” and Brace’s organization took a harsh view of the immigrants. “These miserable creatures of Europe, the scum and refuse of ill-formed civilizations, or the victims of oppress and public neglect, have been scattered over our land,” but many remained in New York City, the CAS concluded in the 1856 report. Here, and in other cities, “the most idle and unenterprising, the most needy and dependent of these emigrants, the unprincipled and those who have been the lowest degraded by the inequalities of European society, have settled themselves.”[4] The rapidly growing numbers of urban poor, the abandoned children, and the accompanying crime and disease, plagued American and European cities throughout the late 19th century. In New York, the landing port of vast numbers of immigrants, the issue was particularly acute. Some contemporaries referred to New York City as “a boiling caldron of crime.”

Thursday, June 21, 2012

THE CATALAN MIGRATION TO NEW YORK A view from La Llumanera de Nova York (1874-1881)

by Dr. Lluís Costa
Professor Titular. Comunicació Audiovisual i Publicitat
Departament de Filologia i Comunicació
Universitat de Girona

The first issue of La Llumanera de Nova York came out in November 1874 and was not published until 1881. The challenge was certainly complicated: editing a newspaper in Catalan in New York, with the aim of influencing a group of potential readers who were distributed in the United States and, at the same time, become a medium that would bring the ideas of a new era, both from a political and cultural point of view. The life of the newspaper coincided with a time of renewal of the newspapers in the western world and, also, in Catalonia. The emerging mass press of this year put the new technologies to test; that allowed the increasing of the production, just as alphabetization, and urbanization demanded for more information. The railway enabled a more extensive and effective distribution. The modernization of the printing improved the quality and efficiency of the issues. And the telegraph, and later the telephone, would help to speed the transition and acquisition of information and news, the raw material of newspapers and magazines.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Code of Handsome Lake

By Michael Keene
Copyright © 2012 by the author. All rights reserved.

Handsome Lake
In early June 1799, a young Seneca woman sat outside the door of her family’s home. She was waiting for her father to die. He had been sick for nearly four years and was now little but “yellow skin and dried bones.” Suddenly, she heard him call out “Niio” and then he burst out the door. He swayed and she stood quickly to catch him as he fell into her arms. She took him back to his bed. Then she dressed him in burial clothes and sent for his closest male relatives, Blacksnake and Cornplanter. By the time they arrived, it appeared that the old man was dead: There was no breathing, no heartbeat, and the body was cool to the touch.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

1st New York Light Artillery - Battery E - “Wheeler’s Battery”

by Robert Yott
Copyright © 2012. All rights reserved by the author.

When southern forces fired upon Fort Sumter in April of 1861, response from the North was swift. Here in the Southern Tier, loyal citizens quickly answered the call and men represented Bath in 17 regiments.

The following incidents are of one such unit from Steuben County, the First New York Light Artillery, Battery E.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Folk Artist & the Farmer-Maid

Copyright © 2012 by the author. All rights reserved.
She wasn’t famous then, and she’s not famous now, which can be said about many women’s lives even today. That’s the way it was at the dawn of the 19th century regarding Mary Ann Willson and her companion, Miss Brundage, whose first name has also disappeared into the mists of history along with the scant facts about her life. What is known about both women could fill a thimble: for example, that Willson and Brundage were probably born in England and migrated to Connecticut, as did many others, after the American Revolution. They lived at a time when women’s lives were even more “anonymous” than our own.

The Susan B. Anthony Window In The Home Of Matilda Joslyn Gage

Copyright © 2012 Sally Roesch Wagner, Ph.D. All rights reserved.
please visit The Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation

For seventeen years I visited, learned from and organized the papers of Matilda Jewell Gage, the granddaughter and namesake of Matilda Joslyn Gage, whose home at 520 South Kline Street in my hometown of Aberdeen, South Dakota contained a treasure trove of her grandmother’s history. Matilda Jewell Gage’s father, Thomas Clarkson (named for the famous English abolitionist) was the elder Matilda’s only son and her confidante. An only child, Matilda Jewell inherited her grandmother’s furniture, paintings, photographs, scrapbooks, manuscripts – published and unpublished, family documents and the wealth of letters her grandmother wrote to her father over the years – all of which he kept. When Matilda’s cousin Leslie, an only child who never married, passed on, Matilda received all of Leslie’s papers and family items as well. Beyond the family memorabilia, Matilda Jewell Gage inherited a deep and pressing family responsibility, to save these pieces of history that proved her grandmother’s historic importance, and her unjust removal from the memory of the woman’s rights movement.

excerpts from Plank Road Explorer by Henry Marvin, 1873
Webbs Mills, New York

plank road explorer
More info
Copyright © 2012 New York History Review. All rights reserved.

November, Saturday 1, 1873
I went to town with Father. I went to Ed’s and to Lyme’s. I got me a new suit of close [clothes].

November, Sunday 2, 1873
I went a-hunting in the forenoon and in the afternoon I went up to George’s with Lyme. I come down as far as the Tanner’s and then I went back to [the] meeting up to the schoolhouse.

November, Monday 3, 1873
I stayed at home all day and husked oats. Father went to town. At nite I went to the store.