Thursday, September 23, 2010

Museum Day

When I visited the Abraham Lincoln Museum in Springfield, Illinois this summer, I was pleasantly surprised to get a substantial discount on the admission price because I am a card-carrying member of the NYS Archives Trust. The museum was wonderful, and I want to return since there was so much to see. Most museums that I have visited have an enormous amount of historical information. Often, you can get a sense of earlier times and what life was like for those that came before you.
Saturday September 25th is Museum Day. Free admission!
Museum Day is an annual event hosted by Smithsonian Media in which participating museums across the country open their doors for free to anyone presenting a Museum Day Ticket, which you can download from the Smithsonian website. You can also find a list of participating museums there. So pack up the family and make a day of it by exploring some of the museums near your home!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Winter of 1779 - 1800

A lot of people who research their ancestry are interested not only in finding our who they descend from, but where they came from and what conditions were like. It's difficult to imagine walking from Sherwood to Aurora instead of driving it in 10 minutes; much less remembering to take your gun and knife in case of bears or wolves, and following a blazed trail through a forest of trees 50 feet or more tall. On a recent research trip to the NYS Archives in Albany, I was thinking about neighboring towns that used to be included in Scipio. Not only towns, but counties. I picked up a book titled "History of Seneca County New York 1766 to 1876."
Chapter 3 starts off like this: "At the close of the Revolution northern and western New York was a wilderness, but the march of armies and the forays of detachments had made known the future promise of these erst untrodden regions, and Companies, State and Government, took immediate steps as policy and duty seemed to dictate, to acquire their ownership. It is notable that the seasons seemed to conspire to render the woods untenable to the Indians when the time approached for the first few isolated settlements of adventurous pioneers. The winter of 1779 – 1800 was marked by its unprecedented severity. All western New York lay covered by a blanket of snow full five feet in depth. Wild animals, hitherto numerous, perished by thousands. The dissolving snow in Spring disclosed the forests filled with the carcasses of the deer, and the warlike Senecas became dependents on English bounty and hoped for British success.”
These few paragraphs, flowery as they are, still paint a vivid portrait of what that winter was like. Imagine our early settlers, most living in crude buildings or log huts of one or two rooms, huddled around a fireplace while the wind outside howled and the snow banks piled up against the walls of the house and the barns and outbuildings. Imagine going outside for more wood, or to feed and care for the livestock. An illness serious or life-threatening enough to need a doctor’s presence would require a ride through snowdrifts in a forest filled with hungry predators, if there was even a doctor close enough to return. People learned to be self-sufficient, or they did not stay long in the wilderness that was New York.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Constitution Week 9/17/2010 to 9/23/2010

I think that September 11th is a good day to remind everyone that right around the corner is Constitution Week.
Friday, September 17, 2010, begins the national celebration of Constitution Week. The weeklong commemoration of America’s most important document is one of our country’s least known official observances. Our Constitution stands as a testament to the tenacity of Americans throughout history to maintain their liberties and freedom, and to ensure those unalienable rights to every American.
The resolution was adopted by the U.S. Congress and signed into Public Law (#915) on August 2, 1956 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The aims of the celebration are to (1) emphasize citizens’ responsibilities for protecting and defending the Constitution, preserving it for posterity; (2) inform the people that the Constitution is the basis for America’s great heritage and the foundation for our way of life; and (3) encourage the study of the historical events which led to the framing of the Constitution in September 1787.
The United States of America functions as a Republic under the Constitution, which is the oldest document still in active use that outlines the self-government of a people. This landmark idea that men had the inalienable right as individuals to be free and live their lives under their own governance was the impetus of the American Revolution. Today, our Constitution stands as an icon of freedom for people around the world.