Browse Exhibits (25 total)

The Missing Chapter: Untold Stories of the African American Presence in the Mid-Hudson Valley


"The black-white rift stands at the very center of American history. It is the great challenge to which all our deepest aspirations to freedom must rise. If we forget the great stain of slavery that stands at the heart of our country, our history, our experiment-we forget who we are, and we make the great rift deeper and wider."

-Ken Burns

Although the predominant perception of early African Americans in the United States tends to conjure up images of a shackled existence on Southern plantations, the story of the African American presence in Hudson Valley history remains comparatively untold. Just as countless black hands worked the red clay fields of Southern farms, so too did African slaves churn the rich, fertile soils of the New York flats. It remains a hypocrisy in our condemnation of slavery in the South, that we too built our society on the backs of a subjugated people. While New York played a major role in the trading of coffee, sugar, and tobacco, our state also played a crucial role in the trafficking of human life.

It is our obligation and our goal to illuminate the roots of the African American presence in the Mid-Hudson Valley, and to reveal the realities of the critical but subservient role African Americans played in colonial and antebellum society in this region. Through Photographs, Bills of Sale, Last Will and Testaments, Inventories, Vendues, Runaway Slave Notices, Court Cases, Slave Law Codes, Journals, Ledgers, and Correspondences, we can gain a deeper understanding of Slavery in New York in general and of the experiences and fates of specific African Americans. As part of the missing chapter in the book of the African American experience, the stories told here provide a glimpse of the collective heritage some of us seek to find, and that none of us should ever forget.


New Paltz in the Civil War


nptr2-civilwarbanner.jpgFrom June 9th to June 29th 1863, an Enrolling Officer named Daniel Rose compiled a list of men from New Paltz who were eligible to be drafted in the first United States Military draft during wartime. The list also includes New Paltz residents who were already in the Army with their respective regiments. On the 3rd of March 1863, the U.S Congress passed The Enrollment Act. All healthy male citizens between the ages of twenty and forty-five were subject to military duty. This included any foreign immigrants who “declared on oath their intention to become citizens.” A total of 354 men were enrolled in this book.

This Exhibit includes the entire 1863 New Paltz Enrollment Book and its transcription, a consideration of conscription laws, an examination of particular New Paltz regiments, a partial list of Civil War veterans buried at the New Paltz Rural Cemetery, and a look through the eyes of individuals who experienced the war.

As students of history, we rarely have the opportunity to form a personal connection to a time period and to fully immerse ourselves in that experience. Creating this exhibit has enabled us to study a small piece of Civil War history at a local level. Through this examination we were able to connect specific individuals from New Paltz to the War’s national impact.

The following are the last words written by New Paltz's Captain Johannes LeFevre after being mortally wounded at the Battle of Cedar Creek:

Winchester Va Oct 29/1864

My Dear Mother: I know that you have been suffering more in mind for the last week than I have been suffering in body. So I will be writing to give you my present condition. You are anxious to have me home so that you can see just how bad I am & that you could take care of me. Those who were but slightly wounded & could get off of the field themselves got a good way the start to me in getting home They were half way home before I got to the Hospital. However I do not think my wounds are much of any worse because I lay all night They dress wounds with cold water only mine are running & look exceedingly well Nov 1st Wounds still easy & running well I am week & helpless, but think I will gain again shortly...


This online exhibit was created through a partnership between the Town of New Paltz Historian’s Office and the State University at New Paltz History Department. Interns: Sean McGill, Scout Mercer, Christina Lorper and Kieran Coughlan were instrumental in all aspects of the exhibit.

  • Project development and design by Town Historian: Susan Stessin-Cohn.

This project was made possible by the support of the following organizations and individuals:

  • Carrie Allmendinger, Archivist Librarian at Historic Huguenot Street, for technical support scanning the 1863 New Paltz Enrollment Book and the Discharge and Exemption documents;


History of Poverty in New Paltz

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Poverty New Paltz

On March 31st, 1817, Josiah R. Elting, an Overseer of the Poor for the town of New Paltz, compiled a ledger filled with the town's relief records as well as other documentation beginning in the year 1805. This ledger included the name, condition, location, and relief given to individuals needing assistance ordered by the local Justice of the Peace. Often, the physical condition was listed as well as the amount of money allotted to each person or family per week. Mothers and their children, former slaves, illegitimate infants, the sick, the maimed, and the elderly often fell victim to economic distress and found themselves without financial security. Through a system of required taxation in both the county and the town, Overseers of the Poor along with town Justices of the Peace would decide upon the relief and distribute it accordingly.

This exhibit initially began as a transcription project of the Overseer of the Poor Ledger and eventually expanded into a study of the history of poverty and social welfare in the town of New Paltz during the early nineteenth century. Common history curricula often neglects the study of poverty and its impact on the United States’ current social welfare system. Hoping to shed light on this overlooked subject, “Poverty in Early New Paltz,” seeks to bring attention and evoke thoughtful discussion on such a prevalent topic.

I hate this grinding poverty—
To toil, and pinch, and borrow,
And be for ever haunted by
The spectre of to-morrow.
It breaks the strong heart of a man,
It crushes out his spirit—
Do what he will, do what he can,
However high his merit!

I hate the praise that Want has got
From preacher and from poet,
The cant of those who know it not
To blind the men who know it.
The greatest curse since man had birth,
An everlasting terror:
The cause of half the crime on earth,
The cause of half the error

 ~Henry Lawson (1867-1922)


This online exhibit was created through a partnership between the Town of New Paltz Historian’s Office, the Ulster County Clerk's Office, and the State University at New Paltz History Department. Interns: Kaitlyn Way, Sean McGill and Peter Randazzo were instrumental in all aspects of the exhibit.

Project development and design by Town Historian: Susan Stessin-Cohn.

This project was made possible by the support of the following organizations and individuals:

• The Ulster County Records Center, Kingston, New York and the Ulster County Clerk's Office, Nina Postupack, Ulster County Clerk;

• Carrie Allmendinger, Archivist Librarian at Historic Huguenot Street, for technical support photographing the New Paltz Town Ledger;

• Special thanks to Jennifer Palmentiero, Hudson River Valley Heritage and Southeastern New York Library Resources Council for their enthusiasm, assistance and support.



Kingston--The IBM Years

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IBM KIngston

IBM was Ulster County’s most powerful economic engine of the 20th century. Thousands of people took jobs at IBM. Some had grown up in the Kingston area and many came from all over the country to work there.

Kingston—The IBM Years looks at some of IBM’s great achievements during its 40-year stay in Kingston. But just as important, it focuses on the people who worked there and the lives that they made for themselves.

Kingston—The IBM Years also examines IBM’s impact on the built environment of the city and surrounding towns—forty years of new houses, schools, other civic and religious buildings, as well as commercial structures like the shopping centers that came to dominate the region.

This website is based on an exhibition that was mounted by the Friends of Historic Kingston in its gallery at Wall and Main Streets in Kingston from May to October 2014. The Kingston—The IBM Years website is produced in conjunction with Southeastern NY Library Resources Council (SENYLRC).

A group of oral histories featuring memories of the IBM years from a range of individuals are available by clicking on Oral History Interviews on the left.

The Friends of Historic Kingston and Southeastern NY Library Resources Council hope the website will spark memories, engender curiosity, and inspire you and others to add to this rich history. Please share your memories and reactions on our Facebook page for Kingston—The IBM Years.

In addition to the Kingston—The IBM Years website, the Friends has co-published, with Black Dome Press, a book with eight essays and 150 illustrations. Books are available online ( or by contacting the Friends of Historic Kingston (845-339-0720).

Friends of Historic Kingston and Southeastern NY Library Resources Council are fortunate to have benefited from the enthusiasm, support and hard work of scores of people who helped with this project. We thank them all.

Kingston—The IBM Years was made possible with support from the following: the Architecture + Design Program of the New York State Council on the Arts, with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; the County of Ulster’s Ulster County Cultural Services & Promotion Fund administered by Arts Mid-Hudson; and three anonymous donors. This project was also supported by grants from the New York Council for the Humanities and the Mid-Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union. The associated publication received funding from Furthermore: a program of the J. M. Kaplan Fund.

Camp Awosting

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Camp Awosting was founded in 1900 by Dr. Walter Truslow, member of the Kings County Medical Society of Brooklyn, New York, and Blake Hillyer, president of the executive committee of the Physical Education Society of New York. Originally established in what is now Minnewaska State Park, New York, the camp now operates in Bantam Lake, Connecticut. Since 2010, it has been run by the Ebner family.

Campers were encouraged to “rough it” and embrace the rugged, natural landscape located at the crest of the Shawangunk Mountain range, in order to offset the “softening effect of the modern city.” The woods, weathered cliffs, and mile-long shore provided the boys with a healthy life in the wilderness.

Traditional male characteristics such as physical strength, discipline, and teamwork were the characteristic building blocks for which camp activities, sports, and events were based.

As many boys came from affluent urban communities, summers at Awosting provided them with a more rustic environment at an age when testosterone ran free and competition reached an all-time high. Camp provided well-to-do, adolescent boys with the means for a healthy and physical upbringing. Parents sent their sons here to receive lessons that they believed could not be taught or learned in their own communities. The boys were given the chance to escape their everyday lives and the opportunity to live among their friends in the Hudson River Valley for two summer months under the guidance and supervision of counselors.

Holiday Menus

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Many of our favorite holiday celebrations are centered around food. Even if our traditional meals vary, food and holidays go hand in hand. As part of these celebrations, restaurants and hotels often produced special menus for holiday meals. Compared to the daily menu, these holiday menus were elaborately designed and listed some of the finest foods that were being served at that time and place.

This online exhibit presents a selection of historical holiday menus from The Culinary Institute of America Menu Collection. Each menu reflects the way people celebrated holidays in the past. First, notice the designs of these menus, which often reflect the celebratory nature of the holiday. Then, look at the items on the menus and you will see a lot of traditional foods that are still associated with the holiday today. Some menus offer a special fixed price meal, while others offer an a la carte menu. Some list the evening's entertainment and some include drink lists. Most importantly, these menus encourage diners to eat, drink, and be merry.

We hope you enjoy this selection of holiday menus. As the year progresses, we will be adding more holidays and more menus, so be sure to check back often.

About the collection

The Culinary Institute of America's special collection of 30,000 menus includes menus from CIA restaurants, along with gifts from major menu collectors, including George Lang, Chapman S. Root, Vinnie Oakes, Roy Andries de Groot, and the Smiley family of Mohonk Mountain House. Assembled over decades, the collection illustrates the history of dining in America and abroad, with menus from all of the states and over 100 countries, as well as ships, railroads, and airlines.

The CIA menus are part of the CIA Archives and Special Collections, housed in the Conrad N. Hilton Library. Anyone interested in learning more about the collection or locating specific menus should contact Nicole Semenchuk at

Yama Farms Calling


This exhibit tells a story in pictures about one of the "Presidents Conferences" -- meetings of captains of industry -- which were held annually at Yama Farms in Napanoch, Ulster County, New York.

Storied Objects: a material history of New Paltz

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New Paltz

“You take an object…and you put it down in front of you and you start. You begin to tell a story.”

Edmund de Waal, The Hare with Amber Eyes 

This exhibition brings together a collection of artifacts, tools, knick-knacks, books, clothing, and other items that collectively tell the stories of New Paltz, New York. Today the site of a vibrant college, a favorite location for artists, outdoor enthusiasts, and quiet weekend retreats, New Paltz has a history that reaches back through the earliest records of American history and culture. It was once a crossroads in trade roads and hunting grounds for the region’s Native American cultures. Settled by Europeans in the seventeenth century, "Die Pfaltz" quickly developed into a thriving early American community. This place has thus witnessed a span of major historical events that have defined the American experience, from the Revolutionary War and slavery to the Vietnam protests of the twentieth century.

By its nature, the narrative we tell here is neither complete nor exhaustive. Based on the materials of history, what these stories share is a sense of dimension, extension, and richness: a button made in seventeenth-century Amsterdam that may have been a trading item between settlers and Indians; an autograph book that records the social circle of a nineteenth-century college woman; a collection of worn t-shirts that document the establishment of college radio in New York.

This collaborative material history originated in Prof. Cyrus Mulready’s Spring 2013 Honors Seminar at SUNY New Paltz and has grown from contributions from students in several subsequent iterations of the course.  In the summer of 2019, Prof. Mulready and Claire Dawkins undertook significant additions and revisions to the project with the support of funding from a Summer Undergraduate Research Experience grant at New Paltz.

You can read more in the following links about the class and project. It has  been conducted in collaboration with several local institutions and individuals: Historic Huguenot Street, Dr. Joseph Diamond of the SUNY New Paltz department of Anthropology, the Haviland-Heidgerd Collection at Elting Memorial Library in New Paltz, The Sojourner Truth Library at SUNY New Paltz, and the Southeastern New York Library Resources Council


Quilts of Historic Huguenot Street


Every experience deeply felt in life needs to be passed along - whether it be through words and music, chiseled in stone, painted with a brush, or sewn with a needle, it is a way of reaching for immortality.

                                       ~Thomas Jefferson


Franklin D. Roosevelt's Family History in New York's Hudson Valley

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Franklin D. Roosevelt was proud of his heritage and family name. He idealized and strived to assume the gallant qualities he saw in his ancestry - generations of which he learned about from family stories passed down, and from the papers they left behind. Like his legendary stamp collection, FDR collected, sorted, and cared for the records of the Delano and Roosevelt families.

Told here are the stories of several generations of Roosevelts and Delanos who worked hard to prosper and establish the prominence now associated with their names. Their voices and deeds are captured within the following selection of correspondence, accounts, estate papers and public announcements. These documents, once held by President Roosevelt, now in the collection of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, simultaneously tell the history of settling on the banks of the Hudson River and the rise of two of the Hudson River Valley’s great families.

The items featured in this exhibit are a selection of digitized historical materials contributed to New York Heritage by the FDR Library.