New York Pride of the Past

Watermarked image of a written letter on a sheet of paper and business card admitting William Bordeau to the National Gay Alliance as a Charter Member

Now known as the National LGBTQ Task Force, the image above is of a handwritten note welcoming Bill Bordeau into the National Gay Task Force, and a business card sized membership card.

Authored by Kathleen Daly

At a time when there was a great deal of political and cultural turmoil there was one local New York City man who was a vocal activist for gay rights. Affiliation of any kind with a group like the National Gay Task Force was polarizing for some, especially when this was a time when the American Psychiatric Association, or APA, still had homosexuality classified as a mental illness. In the publication of the original Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM, in 1952, as well as in the second version, “individuals were labeled sick because they did not fit in, not necessarily because they felt afflicted, in pain, or under any kind of mental stress” (Dunn 2017, 183). The stigma that homosexuals had to live under was codified under the guidelines of mental health diagnoses and it took a great deal of fighting back from many groups inside the APA, and a few outside as well, to get those definitions removed finally in late 1973.  Other legal definitions and laws changing, such as the case of 1964’s Civil Rights Act and the fallout within the homosexual community (Bruce 2016, 46-47) gave rise to many people within it wishing to take further action. Continue reading

Burroughs Building: The Opportunity to Prosper in the Nineteenth Century

Authored by Megan Sego

Image Bridgeport Public Library Burroughs Building

Burroughs Building, by Jurgen Frederick Huge (1809-1878); 29 ¼” H x 39 ½” W; 1876. This highly stylized ink and watercolor shows the Burroughs Building in 19th Century Bridgeport, located at the SW corner of Main and John Streets (currently the site of City Trust building). The building eventually housed the Bridgeport Public Library on the second and third floor in starting in 1888 until the current Burroughs Library structure was opened at 925 Broad Street in 1927.

Born in Hamburg, Germany, in 1809, Jurgen Frederick Huge immigrated to the United States, particularly Bridgeport, Connecticut at the age of twenty-one. The year was estimated to be 1830, although records officially claiming Huge in directories first appear in 1862 (“Jurgen Huge”, n.d.). Many German citizens immigrated to the United States in the early to mid-nineteenth century as they, “were forced to endure land seizures, unemployment, increased competition from British goods, and the repercussions of the failed German Revolution of 1848” (“Immigration”, n.d.). The port of Hamburg was known as “the Gateway to the World” as over five million European immigrants used the port travel across the Atlantic Ocean to reach the “land of plenty.” Many opportunities were waiting for those willing to make the ship-ward journey (“Genealoger”, n.d.). Continue reading

Certificate of Passage: Last Ride of “The Put”

Certificate of passage on "The Put"
A certificate of passage on the last Northbound passenger train of the “Put” on May 29th, 1958. The Putnam line ran from Brewster in southern Putnam County down to the Bronx for about 80 years. This small document, located in the Yorktown Museum at Yorktown Heights, an old station along the line, is only a testament to the once expansive railway that ran right through the center of Westchester County (above).

Reaching from the High Bridge area of the Bronx up and Brewster in Putnam County, the Putnam line is an old, and possibly forgotten part of history. In 1869, a group of Boston and New York investors sought to connect the two cities via a railway chartered a third set of tracks between the current Hudson and Harlem lines leaving New York City (Kelley 2005). This venture came to fruition in December of 1880, when the fifty-eight miles of track, serving towns that didn’t have immediate access to railways and passengers were able to use the new line by 1881 (Kelley 2005). However, the economic strain that existed on the Putnam line since its beginnings never really disappeared, despite its success as a passenger train. It was passed between companies, shifted around in purpose, and eventually the connection to Boston was removed by rival railways (Kelley 2005). By 1913, the line had undergone several administration changes before finally falling into the control of the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad, where it gained the name of ‘Putnam Division’.

In its early days, the Putnam Division was a well used rail line by the many growing towns along its path, providing new opportunities to workers and commuters. Daniel R. Gallo states in an interview that “between 1950 and 1955, the population between Ardsley and Yorktown Heights tripled” due to the use of the Putnam line, which allowed for easy travel between the Westchester County towns and New York City (Strauss 1981). Many of the stations along the Putnam Railway were close to parks and attractions, such as the Lincoln Station and Tibbetts Brook Valley, which in 1927 was developed into a park with swimming pools and walking trails (Brause 2007).

Finally, the financial strain of “The Old Put” lead to its eventual closing in 1958. By its seventy-ninth year of toting passengers, the train line had dwindled to around 300 and was accruing annual deficits of up to $400,000 (Folsom 1958). On its final passage north, Train 947 left the Bronx at 5:47 PM and arrived in Brewster at 8:37 PM: a total of five hundred passengers had boarded the train, celebrating and mourning the last ride of “The Old Put” (Folsom 1958; Kelley 2005). The oldest passenger was 81-year old Henry H. Wells, former Mayor of Brewster, the youngest a 12 year old Michael Fox of North Salem; it carried a variety of passengers from railway workers, schoolchildren, and even bankers (Folsom 1958). Despite the discontinuing of service for “The Old Put”, the party commuters and locals had left potent memories in all involved. This unplanned event demonstrates a small scale of the Vincentian desire to create “global harmony” in the world, and that it is possible for strangers to live harmoniously  (“Our Mission” 2019).

Although the passenger train had come to an end, the freight division of the Putnam line ran until 1981. The five stations along the passenger lines that remained, in Elmsford, Briarcliff Manor, Millwood, Yorktown Heights, and Mahopac, were maintained and used as libraries, museums, parks, offices, and even restaurants through the years (Strauss 1981). Various blog posts, outlining the echoes of the train on the land, and books, such as “The Putnam Division” by Daniel R. Gallo, that record its history keep the memory of this railway alive (Strauss 1981). Today the abandoned rail line is actively used as walking trails, parks, and history trails for those interested in learning more about the “Old Put” and its travels.

References

Brause, Richard. 2007. “Stations Along the Trail on the Putnam Division Right-Of-Way”. Accessed on: March 17th, 2019. Retrieved from:
http://bikenorth.zisfein.com/putnamstations.htm

Folsom, Merrill.  1958, May 30th. “The Wheels of ‘Old Put’ Click Out a Sad Accompaniment to Riders’ ‘Auld Lang Syne’”. New York Times, pp. 23.Accessed on: March 17th, 2019
Retrieved from:
https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1958/05/30/79398160.pdf

Kelley, Ed. January/February, 2005. “‘THE OLD PUT’ Suburban New York’s Lost Railroad”. Accessed on: March 17th, 2019. Retrieved from:
https://web.archive.org/web/20050914165131/http://www.bjwrr.com/ontrack/put.htm

“Our Mission.” 2019. St. John’s University. Accessed on: March 17th, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.stjohns.edu/about/history-and-facts/our-mission

Strauss, Michael. (1981, September 13). “MEMORIES CLICK ALONG THE PUTNAM LINE”. New York Times, pp. 29. Accessed on: March 17th, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.nytimes.com/1981/09/13/nyregion/memories-click-along-the-putnam-line.html

The Albert N’Yanza: Exploration and Subjection is the Belgian Congo

Authored by Leanne N. Manna

Written in 1866, The Albert N’Yanza: Great Basin of the Nile and Exploration of the Nile Sources, gives an account of Samuel White Baker and his Team’s exploration of central Africa. This two-volume set is currently held at Liberty Hall Museum in Union, NJ.

The Albert N’Yanza, or Lake Albert, lies on the border of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and is one of the great lakes of Africa. It has long been an object of fascination and exploration. The presence of books like The Albert N’Yanza: Great Basin of the Nile and Exploration of the Nile Sources serve to highlight how celebrated these explorers were. Throughout these narratives there is a common theme of seeking greatness and disregard for the indigenous people. For example, Baker names Lake Albert “in memory of the late illustrious and lamented Prince Consort”(Baker 1866, II). Naming “discovered” landmarks was quite common among explorers. In addition, Romolo Gessi remarked several times in his account of circumnavigating the Albert N’Yanza that people would flee their villages with their belongings as they approached (Gessi 1876, 51-54). This is most likely from fear of whom these new arrivals could be and what they planned on doing. There is a much darker history surrounding the history of exploration in Africa and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo specifically.

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Recognizing Staten Island’s World War II Efforts

Authored by Erin Ajello

A watermarked photograph of blueprints.

This photograph shows Robert Feist’s blueprints of a German rocket from the S. S. White factory on Staten Island. Feist created them as part of a national U. S. Government project.

            As Staten Island is often referred to as the forgotten borough, it unsurprising that it is a place with a rich, forgotten history. The above artifact, a page of missile blueprints from the S. S. White factory on Staten Island, shows a unique part of Staten Island’s war efforts during World War II.     

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Androcles and the Lion: How Theater Made an Identity for the Deaf

Authored by Kylie Feiring

Androcles and the Lion program
Marymount Manhattan College and St. Francis de Sales School for the Deaf, Androcles and the Lion, 1971, Marymount Manhattan College, Collection #009, Box 2.

In 1971, Marymount Manhattan College and the St. Francis de Sales School for the Deaf united forces to present “Androcles and the Lion,” written by Aurand Harris and adapted by Dorothy Dodd. Harris’ plays for children are remarkable, as he had a deep and real understanding of children’s interests and concerns, what they find funny, and what they find important (McCaslin 1984, 115).

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Higher Education Opportunity Program: A Chance to Achieve Greatness

Authored by William Gorley

An early HEOP brochure utilized by MMC

An undated, early promotional and educational brochure utilized by Marymount Manhattan College to advocate their involvement with the Higher Education Opportunity Program. (Known formally as the Community Leadership Program at Marymount Manhattan College).

Prior to the late 1960’s, higher education in America was reserved for the affluent, bright and well connected. A trend that would continue until a visionary upstate New York politician stepped up to lead a campaign that would provide the underprivileged and underrepresented a chance to achieve greatness. Arthur O. Eve, a member of the NYS Assembly (1967-2003) and Deputy Speaker of the Assembly (1979-2013) representing districts in Buffalo NY (NYSED.gov 2019). Eve took notice of the plight faced by the underprivileged, especially the youth and proposed legislation that would become known as the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) (NYSED.gov 2019).

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Lasagna Dinner: From Tradition to Community

Authored by Victor Otero

Taken during the first Lasagna Dinner, a Holy Rosary annual fundraiser, this photograph shows the parish women who came up with the idea, left to right: Pat Bennet, Mary R. Catucci, Eleanor Eisman, Anita Segreti, Mary G., and Rosalie Pappano.

Italian immigrants into the United States represented ethnic/regional and job entitlements. The immigrants originated from different parts of Italy and worked in specific fields and job titles in the native nation. During the period from 1880 to 1915, millions of Italians migrated out of Italy into the US. While in America, the immigrants faced numerous challenges. The immigrants did not understand the English language and had little formal education; therefore, they were forced to take low wage manual labor jobs (Connell 2019). As a result, they were often taken advantage of by the intermediaries who served as go-betweens between them and the potential bosses. Most Italians saw the US as a place that could offer jobs that the unskilled and uneducated Italians peasants like they could do. 

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Farmingdale’s First Director Fights Famine Overseas Through Agriculture

Authored by Kimberly Simmons

Furrow
A page from the August 1921 edition of the student publication The Furrow, featuring article “Bon Voyage, Director Johnson!” At the time of its writing, Johnson had recently embarked on a humanitarian journey to the Near East.

The Furrow was a student publication (1916-1921) of the New York State Institute of Applied Agriculture, currently Farmingdale State College. The digitized item selected here is an article from the August 1921 edition, titled “Bon Voyage, Director Johnson!” (1921). Here we are informed of the journey of the Institute’s first director, Albert A. Johnson, who had recently set out to regions of the Near East that were in the throes of famine.

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Dance Genesis: Celebrating the Life and Legacy of Syvilla Fort

Authored by Reba Weatherford

The outside of the program for the concert honoring Syvilla Fort.

On November 3, 1975 the Black Theater Alliance held a concert in the Majestic Theatre at Marymount Manhattan College titled Dance Genesis: Three Generations Salute Syvilla Fort. Syvilla Fort, and influential choreographer and dance teacher, has been described as “an important figure in American dance” (Bocek 2016, 14) and as a “just plain good person” (McDonagh 1975, 34). The concert was hosted by choreographer Alvin Ailey and performer Harry Belafonte, both former students of Fort. Syvilla Fort herself was also in attendance. Continue reading