Sunday, October 5, 2014

More History Events

Schenectady Stockade District
This weekend I had the opportunity to attend two more history events. On Saturday I went to a Genealogy workshop at the Schenectady County Historical Society. There were four presentations.

The first was about using university archives and special collections for doing genealogical research. It hadn't occurred to me that there may be a great deal of information, for example, about the daily life of my relatives who attended college in the 1920s or 1940s in the records of the institutions they attended. A rich resource to be explored on a rainy afternoon!

The second presentation gave the attendees some tips for searching ancestry.com ; always a useful refresher for those who have tried this on their own.

The most useful presentation for me showed us how to browse through the wealth of historical information posted at a Web site developed by a research librarian at the Schenectady County Public Library. The library hosts a digital history archive which truly a cornucopia of resources that have been posted online. You can find this at http://www.schenectadyhistory.org .

The last presentation walked the participants through the resources available in the Grems-Doolittle Library of the historical association, which includes a collection of print and digital resources, including an historic manuscripts collection. The Society is located in the historic stockade district near the Mohawk River in Schenectady.

Half Moon Replica Ship on the Hudson
On Sunday, I went to the shore of the Hudson River in Albany, to tour the replica of Henry Hudson's ship, the Half Moon (Halve Maen in Dutch). The replica was constructed about 25 years ago, and is a full-scale, working model of the type of sailing vessel used by the Dutch East India Company in the 17th century. While touring the ship dockside, it was difficult to imagine how such a tiny, cramped vessel crossed the Atlantic Ocean safely.

The replica operates as a floating museum, with a crew of volunteers who welcome student sailors from local middle schools and exchange students from the Netherlands  --  a wonderful opportunity for a living history lesson!

The tour guides showed us the forecastle, where the cooking stove was located; the crew's quarters; and the area where trade goods were stored.

Stove and food samples


Storage for trade goods in the ship's hold 
Crew's quarters

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To learn more about Henry Hudson and the Half Moon, here are a couple of books that look at the voyage from different perspectives:

Henry Hudson and the Algonquins of New York, by Evan T. Pritchard. This volume attempts to recreate the Half Moon's voyage up the Hudson river from the perspective of the Native Americans with whom the ship came into contact.

Half Moon: Henry Hudson and the Voyage That Redrew the Map of the New World, by Douglas Hunter. This book focuses on the history behind the quest for a water route through North America to the Pacific Ocean, and the economics and politics of the era.

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