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. 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.
-posted by Brenda, Reference Services
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
Most 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.
Wouldn’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
“Your personal collection may include scrapbooks, photographs, letters, Bibles, christening gowns, home movies, and so much more. What I’d like to provide for your community is an opportunity to learn how damage occurs and how to protect those items from any future damage, so that their family’s history can endure for as long as possible.”
Nicole Menchise, archivist and collections manager
Oyster Bay Historical Society
Thursday, April 9 2015 at 2:00 pm.
Refreshments will be served.
Nicole Menchise will speak about preserving the items we hold most dear – our unique family treasures – including a discussion of best practices for handling, displaying and long-term storage for papers, books, textiles, photographs and film.
Included in the workshop are examples taken from the collection of the Society. Attendees are encouraged to bring items that they feel need to be discussed specifically. No appraisals will be given as this is strictly regarding preservation practices.
– posted by Barney, Local History services
On Feb 26 the Syosset Library will present a talk on the Floyd Estate. Located in Mastic Beach, this is the family home of William Floyd, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Park Ranger MaryLaura Lamont will discuss the eight generations of the family which owned the property from 1718 until 1976 when it was given to the National Park Service.
Willliam Floyd is the most historically well known of the family. Born in 1734 he was a plantation owner and an active political figure on Long Island and in New York. He was a member of the New York Senate and was active in the colonial militia. He was a delegate to the Second Continental Congress and was the first of the New York delegates to sign the Declaration of Independence.
If you want to jump start your study of the family and its historic property, visit the Oyster Bay Historical Society’s current exhibition (January 11-March 29) at the Angela Koenig Center. Titled “The Other Side–Charles, Cesar, Harry, Sam, Pompey, Lon and Isaac” , it is a photographic look by artist Xiomáro at the estate property, as well as interior rooms often not seen by the public. But the title of the exhibit comes from the collection of photos of plain wooden crosses found in the cemetery marking the graves of slaves and household servants of color. The crosses were erected in the 1870s. By then the family had moved away from slavery and supported the Union cause in the Civil War.
– posted by Brenda, Reference Services
The Syosset Public Library now has membership to the Old Bethpage Village Restoration Museum. SPL has one pass to this museum which admits 4 people (any combination of adults and children). The museum is located at 1303 Round Swamp Road, Old Bethpage, NY. Situated on 209 acres, visitors can be transported back in time and experience life in a recreated mid-19th-century American village. One of the historic buildings is the Schenck House which was built around 1730 and is one of the oldest Dutch Farmhouses remaining in the U.S. The museum is opened April through December. The museum is closed Mon. & Tues. and opened Wed.-Sat. from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm and Sundays from 11:00 am – 5:00 pm.
This pass has been added to Tixkeeper and is now available for our patrons to reserve. For additional information regarding Old Bethpage Village Restoration, please visit their website or contact the museum via telephone at (516) 572-8401.
– posted by Lisa J., Readers’ Services