Wednesday, May 20, 2009

America's Rome - Opening Saturday

By: Paul D'Ambrosio, Vice President and Chief Curator
What a month it's been in Curatorial! After nearly two years of planning, more than 100 paintings have arrived on our doorstep to be uncrated and installed in time for Saturday's opening of America's Rome: Artists in the Eternal City, 1800-1900. The pieces look spectacular, especially when placed in their appropriate groupings and hung on the wall. The exhibition will take you through the Roman Forum, the Colosseum, and particularly the Campagna, or countryside. There are great Hudson River School style paintings by Thomas Cole, Albert Bierstadt, George Inness, Jasper Cropsey, and Sanford R. Gifford, among others. All of these painters traveled to Rome to improve their art, and the results showed in the fame they received upon returning and painting American landscapes in the same style. Come see for your self. The public opening is this Saturday, May 23, beginning at 10 am.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

NYSHA Library Catalog

By: Wayne Wright, Associate Director, NYSHA Library

The Library of the New York State Historical Association is chock full of materials on the history of our state. Since everything has a history, the collecting scope of the library’s materials is broad. The library contains materials on each period of the state’s history from the age of exploration to the present; its communities - cities, towns and villages; its families; its people. It has a good collection on its arts and crafts, its agriculture, its manufactures, its material culture, its songs, its religions – just about anything you can think of concerning New York’s history and culture. In the past, researchers came to the library knowing its reputation as a great collection of historical materials, confident that the library would have something for them.

In the last few years, there has been a major change at the library. No longer do researchers have to come hoping to find what they want. Now they can check the catalog in advance of their visit to find specific items of interest to them. The library’s catalog, Pathfinder, is on the Library’s website and can be searched from any computer with internet access. Pathfinder takes it name from a character in a James Fenimore Cooper novel and is appropriately named because it can be a researcher’s path to finding just what he’s looking for.

Go to the Library website which is a part of the New York State Historical Association’s website. Click on Pathfinder Online Catalog. A drop down box will appear in which you can choose to search the catalog by author, title or subject. By typing in an appropriate search term, a list of items keyed to that search term can be found. It could be an author’s name (last name – comma – first name, e.g. Jones, Louis C) to determine all books in the collection by a particular author. A title (e.g. Last of the Mohicans: leave off beginning articles “a,” “an,” or “the”) would show all editions of a book or all books with the same title. Typing in a subject (e.g. brooms) will either provide a list of items in the collection on that subject or a list of standard terms from which the exact subject heading can be chosen to come up with a list of items. After finding the bibliographic citation for an item, its call number can be determined. You can then make a visit to the library with the exact title and call number in hand. The library has five online public access computers available in the lobby area for you to consult during your visit as well.

Like most library catalogs, Pathfinder is a work in progress. New materials are being added daily. Not all of the manuscripts in the collection are currently in Pathfinder, but the existing card records are being added in electronic form all the time. The “Keyword” search capability does not work well at this time, so library users are encouraged to use the subject search until the bugs in keyword searching can be worked out.

Give Pathfinder a try on your own computer and then pay an on-ite visit with a list of call numbers. It will save your search time. Of course, library staff members are always willing to help customers find the resources they need.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Cooperstown Students open WPA Exhibit

By: Ansel Laurio, Cooperstown Graduate Program, Class of 2009
Exhibit panels have been printed and final preparations are well underway for the upcoming exhibition at the New York State Historical Association’s Research LibraryDoubleday and the WPA: National Relief for a National Pastime – chronicaling Doubleday Field’s rise from sandlot to icon during the early part of the twentieth century. Many are aware of the legend of baseball’s invention by Abner Doubleday on the location of the famous field in 1839. Few know, however, how the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a New Deal agency formed during the Great Depression, helped to create the Doubleday Field which we know and enjoy today.
This wintry view from a nearby rooftop shows the skeletal grandstand under construction. WPA projects such as Doubleday Field’s improvements brought hope to people weathering the bleak economy. Winter 1938/1939.

Working along with my fellow Cooperstown Graduate Program classmates, Ashley Domm, Erin Andrews, and Nicholas Wood, we have created an exhibit that explores the transformation of Doubleday Field by the WPA for baseball’s centennial season in 1939. The subsequent celebration was an expression of hope and pride for a community dealing with hard economic times. The research we have done for this exhibit uncovered never before exhibited photographs from the Smith and Telfer Collection, as well as blueprints and broadsides from the NYSHA Research Library. We were fortunate to be able to work closely with and receive loaned objects from The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
Crowds gathering in Cooperstown during baseball’s centennial season, 1939.
The exhibit will be open to the public on May 15th, and we hope that you will all stop by to check it out! The Research Library is open Monday through Friday, 10:00am-5:00pm.

Top: Doubleday Field Construction, 1939. NYSHA collection, PH 15,287.
Bottom: Opening Day, Doubleday Field, 1939. Smith and Telfer Collection 5-12198.

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