News and Event Updates from the Office of the Orange County Historian

History & Heritage Regional Network

The Hudson Valley region has one of the greatest professional and volunteer networks of historians, curators, interpreters and development officers. 

In the early 1990s, museum professionals throughout the Hudson Valley discussed common issues on a regular basis. The group, informally known as the Museum Consortium, accomplished several goals, including fostering camaraderie amongst museum staffs, coordinating schedules around each other's events, and publishing a brochure of sites that were off the beaten path from typical tourism guides.  A decade later, a small group of historical interpreters from the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation kept the flame alive by planning field trips to view other's collections. Many share fond memories including following Colonel Johnson through the overgrowth to find the remains of Revolutionary War redoubts and road tripping across the Jersey border with Kathleen Mitchell to learn about Robert Erskine at Ringwood Manor. These trips not only inspired morale but also equipped staffs with new historical knowledge and access to the guidance of leaders in the field. Long after the initial rotation of meetings ceased, the relationships that had been created continue to benefit the community.
 
These experiences reinforced important lessons about professionalism in public history. The first is that the best historical society or museum curators, guides, and directors are the ones who have the flexibility of knowledge to express their site's history from a local, regional, and wider perspective. This requires that they have a vivid understanding of neighboring collections and can identify which stories are common threads that would inspire a visitor to continue their edutainment at another site along their route. This ability to create a sense of place for an out-of-towner or to paint context for a local helps transform the casual visitor into a volunteer, donor, or repeat program attendee. Secondly, on the professional level, historical institutions are always dealing with scarcity of resources. This means that the ability to incentivize talent or to provide career mobility to an outstanding employee is often dependent on a fluidity between sites. And finally, although museum professionals endlessly seek and try to attract "new" audiences, we have to recognize the importance of the historical network. We are each other's best audience.  Those of us who love our site and community tend to spend leisure time visiting other museums or doing research in other archives. The best way to help our favorite historical society or museum is to build friendships throughout the region so that we are informed enough to support each other's efforts.
 
The Museum Consortium concept recently reemerged in two new incarnations: Mid-Hudson Historic Destinations and the Hudson Valley Roundtable.
 
Part support group, part advertising vehicle for smaller historic house museums and sites, the Mid-Hudson Historic Destinations group is led by Roy Jorgensen of the Fishkill Historical Society and Lynn Fischer of the Historical Society of Newburgh Bay and the Highlands. They recognize the need for communication that can cross the Hudson River and the Orange-Dutchess borders by hosting meetings within the region. The members range from municipal historians to historical society volunteers to preservation activists. Their first accomplishment was to produce a print brochure and website with more than 30 historic house museums and societies represented. This pocket guide is a tool for each site to direct visitors on to another similar experience as they travel.
 
One of the common challenges discussed in MHHD's gatherings is a fundamental catch-22: County and State Tourism Departments are not able to invest resources into promoting sites that do not have consistent hours of operation nor standard availability of personnel. Yet, the site's volunteers often put an incredible amount of work into creating special programs that fail to attract audiences because they are off the promotional radar. Our historic sites and museums must recognize the need to create a product that is easily marketable. Rather than pushing sites to be open more, MHHD's participants created themed programming, which makes the most of limited resources by advertising together. This year they are launching their first collectively themed program called "A Taste of History."  A dozen sites are planning to offer events related to food history over Columbus Day weekend. They are hoping that by joining forces, they can make the best use of their volunteer commitments, communicate with a larger audience, and persuade visitors to venture between locations.
 
The Hudson Valley Roundtable is a collective of museum directors and administrators who are located along the Hudson River in a drivable loop from the Bear Mountain Bridge to the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge. I first heard about the group from David Reel, the Director of the West Point Museum, but it is coordinated by Andy Chmar, the Executive Director of the Hudson Highlands Land Trust. The HVR also recognized the need to pull sites and itineraries together by theme. They produced a Choose-Your-Adventure guide which can be purchased in the sites' gift shops.
 
These groups are great starting points for those interested in building local relationships and they represent examples of how the historical community in the Hudson Valley Region is attempting to pool resources and maximize the impact of local programing. There's also Path Through History, Hudson Valley Ramble, the National Heritage Area, Teaching the Hudson Valley, Association of Public Historians Regional Group, Hudson River Valley Institute and the Greater Hudson Heritage Network to name a few. I encourage everyone to get to know these groups for professional networking, training and to become aware of regional efforts that may help your institution.

Sincerely, 

Johanna Yaun
Orange County Historian
Mid-Hudson Historic Destinations
Contact: Roy Jorgensen royjorg354@aol.com

Hudson Valley Roundtable
Contact: Andy Chmar andrew.chmar@hhlt.org
Please share & support these local events
General Montgomery Day in Montgomery

Saturday, Sept 12 all day

We hope you will enjoy visiting our quaint village for this year's General Montgomery Day on September 12, 2015. With over 30,000 attendees expected, this year's celebration is sure to please. Now in its 26th year, General Montgomery Day has become known for fun events, a terrific parade, the General Montgomery Day 8K, Soap Box Derby, and an evening of fireworks.

33 Clinton Street, Montgomery, NY 12549
Antique Motorcycle Foundation Meet and Greet at Motorcyclepedia in Newburgh

Friday, Sept 18 at Noon

The Antique Motorcycle Foundation, Inc.  will be having a meeting at the museum. After their meeting the members will be available for a meet & greet ! Come in and meet and talk with some of the experts on antique motorcycles!

As an educational non-profit organization, the Antique Motorcycle Foundation, Inc. relies entirely on the generosity of individuals, clubs, and corporations in the antique and vintage motorcycle community. The foundation has been very busy putting your donations to work by developing several avenues for fulfilling our mission.  http://amf.foundation/
History & Nature Hike of Snake Hill in New Windsor

Saturday, Sept 19 from 10am to 12pm

Enjoy stunning views of the lower Quassaick Creek, Hudson River and the Hudson Highlands on a guided hike up historic Snake Hill. This easy to moderate 2.5-mile round trip will take participants along Crystal Lake before making their way to the scenic overlook on Snake Hill. Parking area and meeting spot are located at the end of Ellis Avenue, Newburgh, NY.

Wearing appropriate clothing and footwear are recommended. Please bring water. Event will be cancelled in the event of inclement weather.

Sponsored by the Orange County Land Trust and Orange County Historian's Office.

This free event is part of the  Hudson River Valley Ramble ,an annual series of events that highlight the history, culture and natural resources of the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area.

For directions or more information, call 845-469-0951, x18 or e-mail jeremy@oclt.org
Farther Afield
The Ontario & Western Railway Historical Society 
Presents  A Trip Through The Catskill Mountains On The Delaware & Ulster Railway in Arkville

Saturday, September 12th at 11am

Our trip will be headed by a Delaware & Hudson RS-36 and will leave Arkville, NY at 11:00 am sharp and will arrive at Roxbury, NY at approximately 12:15 pm. After a short layover at the beautiful Roxbury Depot, our train will then return to Arkville. During our 22 mile ride we will enjoy a sumptuous lunch aboard the D&U's dining cars as we embrace the bucolic scenery of New York's Catskill Mountains. A tour of the NYO&W  equipment including Bobber Caboose No. 8206 and NW-2 No. 116, will be provided by the Ulster & Delaware Railway Historical Society so please c ome early! Seating is limited to 110 passengers and will be offered on a first come first served basis. We have over 50 seats reserved and over 50 seats left so please send your payment promptly if you are interested. At this time the upper dome car is completely sold out and further seating will be at our discretion. No seats can be reserved until payment is received. Please make sure to choose your meal selection for each seat you reserve. You can also get a downloadable copy of this form via the Official O&WRHS Newsletter Blog at http://www.ontarioexpress.org/

If you have any questions please e-mail me at klron650@gmail.com or by cell at 551-206-5937.

Gravestone Preservation Workshop at Historic Huguenot Street in New Paltz

Saturday, Sept 19 & Sunday, Sept 20 from 9am to 4pm

The Gravestone Preservation Workshop will cover a variety of conservation topics, including b asic geology relating to gravestones, monuments, and historic masonry; typical gravestone and monument styles and common problems associated with them; cleaning marble, limestone, brownstone, granite, and all historic masonry; raising, re-leveling, and re-setting gravestones; repairing fallen and fractured gravestones; and the use of stone epoxies and mortars.
Local Opinion: What do you think is the most under appreciated historical resource in Orange County?

The most valuable underutilized resource in every town in Orange County is the oral history of its people. We here at the Town of Deerpark Museum have created an Oral History Program to dip into that deep well of family stories, traditions and recollections. Our goal is to record what went on in their daily family life, interactions with the community and changes seen throughout the years. Stories of sharing, generosity and kindnesses that go back generations reveal a value system that has kept our community vibrant and working. Interviews are video- taped and written transcriptions are created. We cross reference events which give us multiple points of view of community happenings. It is just down right interesting and fun to participate in these powerful and important conversations. Once they are gone...they are gone!

Lynn M. Burns
Historian Town of Deerpark
845 856-2702    845 856-4515
Please email your answer to this question to be featured in a future issue.
On the Scene: 
Constitution Island Reenactment Day
Reenactors from the 4th and 5th NY regiments at Constitution Island on August 29th.
History in the News

Historical and Heritage sites are being targeted by terrorist groups to destroy morale and profit off of the antiquities trade.


Helpful Links

These two links explain how the awe-inspiring and complex narratives of history/heritage can improve well-being and lead to more fulfilling choices in life.



Orange County Historian | Goshen, N.Y. |  845-545-7908 |  j porr@orangecountygov.com 
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