President Trump has issued a proclamation setting November as National Native American Heritage Month. In this he follows in the tradition begun in 1976 when Congress authorized President Ford to proclaim a week honoring Native Americans.
The Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of the American Indian has some fascinating online exhibits. Take a look at the exhibit on the treaties between the nations and the U.S. government. The Museum also has an online exhibit, “Patriot Nations: Native Americans in Our Nation’s Armed Forces,” which spotlights Native Americans’ participation in the military from the Revolutionary War to today (when they are today serving at a higher rate in proportion to their population than any other ethnic group). Since we celebrate Veterans day as well this month, consider the World War II role of Code Talkers , those who used native languages to communicate securely during World War II. Some of the collections of the American Museum of Natural History are available online: take a look at the amazing work of the Northwest Coast Indians to see beautiful basketry, carving and textiles.
Maybe you want to plan a trip to visit these museums! Or travel to Pueblo Acoma, the oldest continuously occupied community in the United States situated atop a 367-foot bluff between Albuquerque and Gallup, New Mexico. Or check out the archaeological and architectural wonders of Chaco Canyon (founded around 850 AD) or the impressive cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde Closer to home is Fort Stanwix , which was built on traditional Oneida land.
Locally, the Garvies Point Museum in Glen Cove will be hosting a Native American Feast on November 18-19 which will feature pottery making and dugout canoe building in addition to cooking displays and samples.
New York Women’s Suffrage Centennial. It sounds like another dry commemoration. But there was serious suffragette activity right here on Long Island led by local women…as close as Cold Spring Harbor!
We’ve all heard of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, but our local ‘heroine’ was Rosalie Gardiner Jones. Called The General, she used her family’s prestige and wealth to push for the right for women to vote. That was not an easy decision since both her mother and sister were staunch anti-suffragists! Can you just imagine the dinner conversations in that house? Rosalie was feisty and determined.
In December 1912 Rosalie led a group of suffragettes on a walk from New York to Albany to petition Governor Sulzer for women’s suffrage. That’s right they walked the entire way in skirts, on bad roads and in winter! (You can check a video of the Marchers here) But that wasn’t the end of her hiking. She was one of the leaders of the pilgrimage from New York to Washington, DC in February 1913. That walk took 20 days and covered more than 200 miles. The New York marchers joined more than 5000 women and men from around the country on the eve of President Wilson’s inauguration to present their demands.
Since the suffragettes knew they had to keep attention focused on their cause, Rosalie took another high flying publicity stunt. Literally! She boarded a biplane and flew over the crowds of an airshow distributing suffrage literature from the air.
New York did grant women the right to vote in November 1917. (All of the Long Island legislators voted in favor of suffrage!) But it wasn’t until 1920 that the 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote nationwide. It certainly took a long time for the country to get behind the legislation that Wyoming had enacted in 1869.
Rosalie Jones might have been a footnote in history but she will be well represented on Election Day. Her image will be on a sticker given to New York voters that day.
For more information check out books by two local authors. Antonia Petrash’s Long Island and the Woman Suffrage Movement details the work of Rosalie Jones and other local suffragettes. For example, Edna Kearns drove her wagon called the Spirit of ’76 to spread the message throughout local communities and she used her editorial position at the Brooklyn Daily Eagle to publicize the suffrage movement. Natalie Naylor’s Women in Long Island’s Past is another resource to consult.
This would be a good time to gather the family and celebrate your ancestors. You might try something simple like making a favorite family recipe. This could be the beginning of creating a family recipe book. Or celebrate an ancestor’s birthday by cooking special foods and playing games that he/she played as a child. Maybe you could visit a cemetery and make a rubbing of a tombstone (if the tombstone is in good condition if the cemetery allows rubbings).
Why not encourage the young people in the family to interview relatives? Find out what their lives were like. What kinds of music did they like? What did they do for fun? Did they have pets?And do your part by writing down your own special memories. Then you could make a family scrapbook of the stories you collect.
You can gather all the photos that are shoved in old shoeboxes. You could scan the fragile ones. And then organize all of them into albums, adding as much identification as possible. And what about those old 16-mm and 8-mm home movies and the video cassettes? Maybe this is a good time to convert them to DVDs.
If this gets you excited and you really want to pursue your family’s genealogy, check out the book display on the Syosset Library’s third floor. There are books for the beginner as well as the more advanced researcher. There is material for specific heritage groups and material to help organize and preserve your data. Be sure to consult the recommended websites on the Syosset library’s site and, of course, the Library provides access to the well known Ancestry.com database (in-library use only).
This is just be the beginning of this adventure! You might find that you are hooked. Happy ancestor hunting!
Now that summer is upon us, many book groups take a few months off to enjoy the warm weather and the ocean breezes. Summer is a wonderful time to plan a visit to a museum with your book group. Below is a sampling of current museum exhibits that are part of SPL’s Museum Pass Program. Museum passes are available for Syosset residents and most passes admit 2 adults and 2 children. To reserve a museum pass, visit www.syossetlibrary.org and click on the museum pass icon or call (516) 921-7161 ext. 239.
CHIHULY – Saturday, April 22, 2017 – Sunday, October 29, 2017
Breathtaking works of art that dazzle with color, light, and form—by day and night. Artworks by world-renowned artist Dale Chihuly are now on view at NYBG in his first major garden exhibition in New York in more than ten years. CHIHULY, presented by Bank of America, showcases more than 20 installations and includes drawings and early works that reveal the evolution and development of Chihuly’s artistic process during his celebrated career. Set within NYBG’s landmark landscape and buildings, this sensory-filled exhibition is a must-see throughout the changing seasons from spring through fall.
To honor the centennial of America’s involvement in World War I, the New-York Historical Society presents a special exhibition examining this monumental event through the eyes of artists. World War I Beyond the Trenches explores how artists across generations, aesthetic sensibilities, and the political spectrum used their work to depict, memorialize, promote, or oppose the divisive conflict.
Old Westbury Gardens is pleased to invite you to a one of a kind art exhibition featuring the work of internationally renowned sculptor Seward Johnson. Johnson’s life size bronze sculptures will be on display throughout the historic Westbury House and the magnificent
Gardens and will feature two of the artist’s most popular series: “Celebrating the Familiar” and “Beyond the Frame” and will also feature 32 individual pieces of Johnson’s work. These works focus on sculptural commentary about day-to-day life and Johnson’s love of nature and French Impressionism. -Lisa Jones, Readers’ Services Librarian
This article first appeared in the Syosset Public Library”s newsletter, The Book Club Insider, July 2017 issue.
The Fourth of July. Normally, the words just slip out of my mouth with little thought. But recently I was at the Fire Island National Seashore. Did you know that the home of one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence is right here? The house is operated by the National Park Service as part of the Fire Island National Seashore.
The Floyd family was on Long Island in the 1600s. By 1724 Nicoll Floyd had begun construction of the “Old Mastic House”. Nicoll’s son, William, who inherited the house, was active in local politics representing New York in both the First and Second Continental Congress. On August 2, 1776 the 41-year-old William Floyd was the first NY delegate to sign the Declaration of Independence. Of course, this caused his family to go into exile in Connecticut while he served in the Continental Congress. When the war ended and he returned to Long Island, he found his estate ruined and his house unlivable. William Floyd soon handed over the Long Island estate to his son, Nicholl, and moved to Oneida County. The house has been expanded over the years and has welcomed such luminaries as Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. The family continued to own the property until 1976 when it was given to the NPS.
The house itself is open for guided tours….but the grounds can be explored for free. There are several outbuildings to be seen and the family cemetery which includes the graves of several family slaves.