That History Day Guy

June 21, 2007

Find Your History Locally

Filed under: Resources — historydayguy @ 8:57 pm

Throughout this year I will be preaching about the merits of finding your History Locally. In the past weeks I saw a presentation by Harry Bradshaw Matthews from The United States Colored Troops Institute for Local History and Family Research .

It was Amazing. He painted an almost completely different picture on the rise of Abolition and the end to Slavery as you would get in a 7th grade text book. He introduced a cast of historic figures and institutions that would prove pivotal in the abolitionist movement.

Another great place for finding local history is this list of local institutions that can provide you with a wonderful cache of documents and possible NYS topics is the Upstate History Alliance. I know what your thinking…A rag tag group of historic and cultural agencies fighting the evils of the Empire… Well yes and no. The Alliance is led by a Jedi Princess named Jenny and they coordinate a lot of cool stuff for museums in the state but also have an interest in supporting students directly through their affiliated institutions or through organized activities. They have a comprehensive links page and they have a description of various holdings of institutions too.

We can’t forget our state and local archives. I spent some time this month digging through the New York State Historical Association’s Research Library  Civil War collections and found amazing primary sources. I could easily begin a History Day project bassed on at least 4 of the letters I found there. The most compelling was of a boy from Milford ,NY who ran away to join the Union forces, came home because it was so horrible, was threatened with imprisonment, went back to the front, and died of yellow fever. Only one letter. How cool would it be to go to local museums and historical societies to find more evidence of his family and his story. A great topic of Yellow Fever during the Conflict of the Blue and Grey. And a different take on the Conflicts and Compromises people were forced to engage in during the Civil War.

So look local for your topics. Look narrow. So much of our History Started here in the Empire State. Don’t overlook it!


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