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Empire State Engagements

with Dr. Robert Chiles

A conversation with Dr. Kara Murphy Schlichting of Queens College, City University of New York, about metropolis-makers on the periphery, the heroism of local libraries, the hubris of hipness, and her revisionist environmental history of the making of modern New York City, New York Recentered: Building the Metropolis from the Shore (Chicago, Ill.: University of Chicago, 2019).  


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One: Dr. Kara Murphy Schlichting 

A conversation with Dr. Catherine O'Donnell of Arizona State University about her book Elizabeth Seton, American Saint (Ithaca, N.Y.: Three Hills/Cornell University Press, 2018).  We discussed young Elizabeth Seton's formative years in New York City, the intellectual forces and family tragedies that informed her spiritual journey, the evolution of American Catholicism, and Mother Seton's remarkable journey from despair to serenity and, ultimately, sainthood.


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Two: Dr. Catherine O'Donnell


Dr. Marsha E. Barrett of the University of Illinois discusses her New York History article "'Millionaires are More Democratic Now': Nelson Rockefeller and the Politics of Wealth in New York," as well as her forthcoming monograph on Gov. Rockefeller and American politics.

Upcoming Episodes

Dr. Jeffrey D. Broxmeyer of the University of Toledo discusses his book Electoral Capitalism: The Party System in New York's Gilded Age.

Prof. Melissa Franson of SUNY New Paltz and Binghamton University discusses her New York History article "Wide Awakes, Half Asleeps, Little Giants and Bell Ringers: Political Partisanship in the Catskills of New York During the Elections of 1860 and 1862." 

Five: Brad Edmondson

A conversation with author Brad Edmondson about his book A Wild Idea: How the Environmental Movement Tamed the Adirondacks (Ithaca, N.Y.: Three Hills/Cornell University Press, 2021).  We discussed evolving meanings of "forever wild," the growing momentum for a more assertive preservationism in the 1960s, the role of the Rockefeller brothers to Adirondack policy, the creation of the Adirondack Park Agency, frustrations among North Country residents with the state's changing role in the region, and the value of elevating character-driven stories within policy history.  This conversation was hosted as a live event by the Northshire Bookstore, Saratoga Springs, N.Y., and we are grateful for their hospitality and generosity. 


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A conversation with Dr. Alyssa Maldonado-Estrada of Kalamazoo College about her book Lifeblood of the Parish: Men and Catholic Devotion in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (New York: NYU Press, 2020).  We discussed her experiences over six years of ethnographic work engaging the parish community; reading tattoos as devotional texts; playfulness and devotion in masculine spaces; the rich history of Italian-American Catholicism in Williamsburg; the the financial realities of community devotion; and the endurance of this parish, tradition, and community--despite decades of challenges ranging from reactionary clergymen to Robert Moses to gentrifying hipsters.


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Four: Dr. Alyssa Maldonado-Estrada

Dr. Daniel Macfarlane of Western Michigan University discusses his book Fixing Niagara Falls: Environment, Energy, and Engineers at the World's Most Famous Waterfall, as well as his New York History article "The (Hydro)Power Broker: Robert Moses, PASNY, and the Niagara and St. Lawrence Megaprojects."

Three: Dr. Jennifer A. Lemak

A conversation with Dr. Jennifer Lemak, Chief Curator of History at the New York State Museum, about her book Southern Life, Northern City: The History of Albany's Rapp Road Community (Albany, N.Y.: SUNY Press/Excelsior Editions, 2008). We discussed African-American life in Albany during the Great Migration, the unique history of migration to Albany from Mississippi, and the remarkable endurance of the Rapp Road community despite radical transformations to the surrounding area.


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Dr. Lizabeth Cohen, Howard Mumford Jones Professor of American Studies and Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of History at Harvard, discusses her Bancroft Prize-winning book Saving America's Cities: Ed Logue and the Struggle to Renew Urban America in the Suburban Age.

Dr. Clarence Jefferson Hall, Jr., of Queensboro Community College, discusses his book A Prison in the Woods: Environment and Incarceration in New York's North Country.

Photographer and historian Prof. Marisa Scheinfeld of SUNY Purchase discusses her book The Borscht Belt: Revisiting the Remains of America's Jewish Vacationland

Dr. Michael B. Boston of SUNY Brockport discusses his New York History article "Booker T. Washington and the New York City Business League’s Role in Increasing Black Businesses in New York City," as well as his monograph The Business Strategy of Booker T. Washington

Seven: Ashley Hopkins-Benton

A conversation with New York State Museum senior historian and curator Ashley Hopkins-Benton about her panel exhibition on the history of the Pride Center of the Capital Region, as well as her work to recover and incorporate more LGBTQ+ history into the museum's content.

Six: Brad Utter

A conversation with New York State Museum senior historian and curator Brad Utter about his recent exhibit on the Erie Canal "Enterprising Waters," as well as his book of the same title (Albany, N.Y.: SUNY Press/Excelsior Editions, 2020). We discussed the research process, evolving vision, and geometric constraints of curating an exhibit on this scale; the serendipitous discovery of an enormous canal-era windlass within the museum's holdings; the politics, economics, and engineering of the canal's creation and expansion; the influence of the canal on various New York cities and cultural movements; and the enduring legacies of the Erie Canal.  


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Eight: Dr. Thomas Balcerski

A conversation with Dr. Thomas J. Balcerski of Eastern Connecticut State University about his New York History article "'The Little Spark of Manhood I Have Left': Governor Thomas Melville and the Aged Seamen of Sailors' Snug Harbor," and his recent monograph Bosom Friends: The Intimate World of James Buchanan and William Rufus King (New York: Oxford University Press, 2019). We discussed his research into homosocial spaces, heavy-handed discipline, and conflicts and resistance at the Sailors' Snug Harbor on Staten Island; evolving social responses to aging in America; the long road from graduate research paper to published article; the male friendships that shaped Antebellum politics—particularly that of James Buchanan and William Rufus King; historical assessments of the Buchanan presidency and the need for nuance in pondering Buchanan's personal life and friendships; and the role of historians in the public sphere.


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