Thursday, July 26, 2012

Is she going to talk about voting? Again? (soap box alert)

As you all know, I love the Women Suffrage Movement. Are you bored yet? I hope not. I try to keep it interesting. Maybe my giddy fascination with Susan B. Anthony, the 19th Amendment, Votes for Women postcards, et al, is enough for you to keep reading.

This post is also about my grandmother, Jacqueline Aileen Martin (nee Drew). My grandmother never learned how to drive. My mother, her eldest daughter, lived down the road & drove her many places. That is one of the reasons that my siblings & I were so close to Nanny. That's what we called her as kids, but it morphed to Gram once we got to high school.

She & my mother used to go grocery shopping every other Thursday morning. They usually went to the Super Shop 'N Save (now Hannaford) on Quaker Road in Queensbury. My younger sister would ride in Nanny's cart & I would ride with Mom. It was a sort of divide and conquer technique. If Heather & I were together we would keep badgering Mom until she couldn't take it anymore. It was easier to stay on budget (& more sane) to separate us. If we were lucky Nanny would buy us each a 25 cent box of animal crackers!

As I have mentioned before, I am helping my mother clean out my grandparents house. In it I have found some treasures to add to the Town of Greenwich collection. One is a pay receipt to my grandmother. Since it is dated 11/06/1975 I am guessing it was her pay for being an election inspector. That means she was an election inspector for 30 years, maybe more.

Election Inspectors earned $2.10 per hour in 1975

Town of Greenwich Supervisor Nelson's envelope
Primary season is fast approaching. Then will come the Presidential election, with some Senators, & all of the Reps too! No matter what your party affiliation, or lack there of... get out there & VOTE!
  • For all of the people who can't vote.
  • For all of the women who struggled for 72 years to vote.
  • For Blacks who were denied voting rights under Jim Crow.
  • For American Indians, many whom did not obtain equal suffrage until 1948.
  • For citizens that are denied the right to vote.

Root of Democracy stamp series- note the Election stamp

For more information on the history of voting in the US-

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Saratoga Springs History Museum & Bolster Collection

As I sit here trying to think of what to write about each (almost) week, I usually think of this idea that I had when I decided to start this blog. the idea was to not only write about Greenwich History, but to also write about local museums and research facilities, being an historian, & offer book reviews. So, I have decided to write about a place I visited recently.

The Saratoga Springs History Museum in the Canfield Casino is in Congress Park in downtown Saratoga Springs. If you have not been there in awhile, or not at all, I highly recommend it. They have 3 floors of exhibits & there is something for everyone. There are gorgeous dresses, a new exhibit on Kaydeross Park with vintage games, the furnishings of the Walworth family, & a ghost exhibit. The gift shop is great too! But when I was there last week, it was not to view the exhibits. It was to talk about old papers and negatives.

The Beatrice Sweeney Archives contains many documents pertaining to local people & businesses. One such collection is the Caffe Lena papers. In 1960 Lena Spencer opened Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs  & it is the oldest continuously operated coffeehouse in the US.

The George S. Bolster Collection contains over 325,000 negatives from 1855-1980. These negatives are from photographers such as Harry B. Settle, Seneca Ray Stoddard, Jesse S. Wooley, & George Bolster himself. Reprints of these photographs are for sale on their website, or by visiting the collection on Monday, Tuesday, or Friday from 10:00-3:00 p.m. (appointments are appreciated).

Some of the George S. Bolster Collection in storage boxes

Part of the Beatrice Sweeney Archives

The Bolster Collection & Sweeney Archives are amazing local resources to utilize in research. Whether you are an author writing a book about the area, like Geoffrey O'Brien (The Fall of the House of Walworth) or a resident looking for an image to hang in your living room, I encourage you to look right in your own backyard & discover what is right there!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Historian's bookshelf

Have you ever gone over to someone's bookshelves and just looked at the titles they have? I do it all the time. If I have an appointment somewhere, & there are books on a shelf, I will look at them no matter what the subject matter. I will look to see if I recognize any of the titles. I don't really care what they are about, I'm just happy there are books on a shelf.

I look at friend's bookshelves even though I know what is on them. I look to see if there is anything new, or anything I might have overlooked before. I look because I might have a new interest, & will rediscover a book or author I read about recently. I look because I love books.

So, if you ever come to visit me in my office on a Thursday night from 6:00-8:00 p.m., feel free to look at my book shelves. Better yet... here you go.

The top 4 shelves of one bookcase

Thursday, July 5, 2012

American Tea Tray Company

According to limited sources, (an anonymous, typed page in a file folder & a few second hand accounts in the local paper) the American Tea Tray Company was started in Albany in 1851 by George L. Jones & brought to Union Village by local investors in December 1859.

The American Tea Tray Co. made, yup, you guessed it, tea trays! They actually made two kinds. One was "japanned ware" made of sheet iron, painted black and guilded. The other was "planish ware" which was white & very durable.

The American Tea Tray Co. was pretty successful, being (some say) the only manufacturer of its kind in the US. However, its fate was linked to the fall of the Washington County Bank in 1878 (more about that in the next installment). So, the American Tea Tray Co. only lasted about 20 years on the banks of the Battenkill, but I have a lasting piece of its history in my office.

American Tea Tray Company "japanned ware" tray

detail of the tea tray in the Town Historian's office
Hearsay and History: A Column Devoted to Present-Day Interest in Days Long Past. The Greenwich Journal. July 13 & 20, Aug 3,10 & 17 1949.