Tag Archives: Local History

Author Visit – Nicola Harrison

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Nicola Harrison the author of Montauk visited the library on June 18th. Audience members enjoyed Harrison’s tales of research about Montauk of years past. She read from Montauk, offered us insights into her writing process and gave us a glimpse into the publishing world, as she shared the story of the evolution of the books stunning cover. Many audience members shared their stories of Montauk with her. You can reserve your copy of this entrancing novel here. Copies of Montauk were sold by The Friends of the Library for signing by Ms. Harrison.

Librarians interviewed Ms. Harrison for our podcast Turn The Page. We discussed Nicola’s research and who would play Dolly in the movie version of Montauk …. keep an eye out for this episode of the podcast here.

-posted by Donna, Readers’ Services

Celebrating Walt Whitman on the 200th Anniversary of his Birth

Walt Whitman, perhaps best known as the poet of the Leaves of Grass, was born in Huntington on May 31, 1819. He was the second of nine children born to Walter and Louisa Whitman. The family soon moved to Brooklyn where Whitman attended the local schools. He was a voracious reader and was largely self-educated.

Of course, most of us know him as a poet. America’s poet. The poet of democracy. But did you know that he was also a printer, carpenter, civil servant, the founder and editor of the Huntington-based Long Islander newspaper and a teacher in several one-room schools? During the Civil War he traveled to Washington, DC to care for his wounded brother and then stayed to nurse and comfort other wounded soldiers, even writing letters home for them. Out of these varied experiences came many poems and prose works.

There is a rich online archive of his original works as well as commentary, criticism of his writings and biographical information at the Walt Whitman Archive. The Library of Congress  has a treasure trove of Whitman material. Would you like to be part of the effort by the Library of Congress to make accessible more of Whitman’s work? You can! There is a crowdsourcing campaign where you can transcribe drafts of his poetry, prose and correspondence.

After suffering a stroke in 1873, Whitman moved to Camden, NJ where his brother lived.

Maybe his poem, “Song of the Open Road,” will inspire you to take a drive to NJ to visit the home he bought in Camden (1884) and where he eventually died (1892).

“Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,

Healthy, free, the world before me,

The long brown path before me, leading me wherever I choose…

Allons! whoever you are! come forth!

You must not stay sleeping and dallying there in the house, though you built it, or though it has been built for you….

Allons! be not detain’d!…

Allons! the road is before us!”

Closer to home is the Walt Whitman Birthplace, the house his father built and where he was born. Call the library to reserve the museum pass. And come to the third floor to see the display of books celebrating Whitman’s life and influence.

On May 31 the library is showing a documentary about his life, followed by a discussion led by librarian Sonia Grgas.

-posted by Brenda, Reference Services

 

Commemorating the Centennial of the Death of Theodore Roosevelt Today

January 6, 1919. Theodore Roosevelt died around 4 a.m. at his beloved home, Sagamore Hill home. He had been a NYS Assemblyman, NYC Police Commissioner, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Colonel of the Rough Riders, NY Governor and U.S. Vice President assuming the office of President when William McKinley was assassinated. And he won the Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating peace after the Russo-Japanese War. These were his official roles. He was also a rancher, a hunter, a conservationist, and an author (more than 30 books and somewhere around 150,000 letters).

Hard to believe that he was only 60 when he died. He left a legacy of civic engagement, conservation and an active lifestyle.

The Bismarck (North Dakota) Tribune eulogized him on its front page: “In the passing of Theodore Roosevelt the world loses a man. No matter how widely opinions may differ as to his politics and his methods, there is universal appreciation of those sterling qualities of virile manhood …. The life of Theodore Roosevelt marks an epoch in the development of America. He lived earnestly and sincerely. …His memory will be cherished for his genuine Americanism, his unswerving loyalty and his devotion to the public weal.”

Some Theodore Roosevelt related activities:

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    Visit our first floor book display of his life and work.

  • Join the Syosset library for a book discussion of Mark Lee Gardner’s Rough Riders January 8 at 7:30 p.m.
  • On Thursday January 17 at 2 we will have a lecture on “Roosevelt’s Life and Legacy”.
  • Roosevelt’s Oyster Bay home, Sagamore Hill, is a short drive away.
  • A train ride away is the NYC American Museum of Natural History (of which his father was a founder) where he contributed many species of birds, mammals, and amphibians he had collected during a 1914 trip to the Brazilian jungles.
  • Or start planning a summer vacation to see his profile at Mount Rushmore and his Elkhorn cabin at the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Be careful of the bison out there!

-posted by Brenda, Reference Services

Discover Something New 102!

The National Park Service marks its 102 birthday on August 25. To celebrate it launched a campaign to “discover something new!”

Did you know that here on Long Island we have two NPS units? Fire Island National Seashore (pictured above) with its spectacular beaches and iconic light house as well as the historic Old Mastic House, home of the William Floyd, signer of the Declaration of Independence, is located on the South Shore. On the North Shore in Oyster Bay you can visit the home of the Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th U.S. President, Sagamore Hill.

If you have more time, consider a trip into NYC. You might think of visiting the famous Statue of Liberty, beacon of freedom, or Ellis Island where so many of our ancestors passed through. If you are downtown, take some time to see Federal Hall where George Washington took the oath of office as the first President or the African Burial Ground (pictured above), the nation’s earliest and largest African Burial Ground rediscovered in the United States, containing upwards of 15,000 intact skeletal remains of enslaved and free Africans who lived and worked in colonial New York.

Do you have time for a longer daytrip? Visit the Weir Farm  (pictured above) in Wilton, CT which preserves the life and home of Julian Alden Weir, one of America’s most influential Impressionists. An even longer trip could include the Washington-Rochambeau Trail that goes from Massachusetts to Virginia following the path taken by the Revolutionary War participants as the French joined forces with Washington’s army.

Can’t decide? The National Park Service website has a feature where you can search for a park by State.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, “There is nothing so American as our national parks…. The fundamental idea behind the parks…is that the country belongs to the people that it is in process of making for the enrichment of the lives of all of us.”

Go out and enjoy them!

-posted by Brenda, Reference Services

New York Women’s Suffrage Centennial

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.

Rosalie Jones

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.

-posted by Brenda, Reference Services

The 4th of July

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.

On this celebration of our 231th birthday there are many locations where you can experience and celebrate the early founders of our country from John Adams’ home in Quincy, Massachusetts to Washington’s Mount Vernon and Jefferson’s Monticello to James Madison’s Montpelier. But you don’t need to travel to far off Massachusetts or Virginia (or other places). Just drive to Mastic Beach!

-posted by Brenda, Reference Services

Explore Poetry: April is National Poetry Month

PoetryMonthGraphicMost states have a state flower, a state bird, state insect (lots of bees and butterflies). But did you know some states have a state poem? Indiana, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Tennessee all have state poems which you can read here.

The Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature  at the Library of Congress offers a chance to listen to poets reading their own works. Sample Allen Ginsburg, Ray Bradbury,  Anne Sexton, Maxine Kumin and Joyce Carol Oates. One of the gems in the collection is a 1959 interview with Robert Frost in which he recites some of his poems.

Do you want to find a copy of particular poem you remember? Check Litfinder in the library’s collection of databases. You can search by poem or by poet’s name.

Today there is a position at the Library of Congress called the Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry. Until 1986 there was a similar position called the Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. On the Syosset Library’s third floor is a display of books of some of the American poets who have held these positions. Perhaps you will discover a new poet to enjoy or rekindle interest in an old favorite.

walt-whitman-birthplaceWouldn’t this month be an appropriate time to visit the birthpace of Long Island’s own Walt Whitman? The library has a museum pass to let you explore the site for free. Reserve the pass online or call 516-921-7161 ext. 239.

-posted by Brenda, Reference Librarian