Upcoming Event is on Sunday, January 7, 2024
Upcoming Event is on Sunday, January 7, 2024
Periodic programs bring to the membership speakers who are authorities on various aspects of Long Island history. The meetings end with refreshments and a social period so members can meet informally. The Annual Meeting, usually with a Dinner/Luncheon and program is held in October. The following table of events is arranged in reverse chronological order. Information about future events will be added and updated as plans are finalized. Please check back for updates. Unless otherwise indicated, guests are welcome to attend our meetings and events.
Performance by Max Rowland
You are cordially invited to our annual luncheon meeting and a unique performance by Max Roland, historian and performer of traditional American Music. Max will perform and celebrate historical music from different cultures on the concertina, piano accordion, button accordion, old-time banjo, bluegrass banjo, auto-harp, and spoons. Max’s repertoire includes American sea songs and chanties, traditional Long Island tunes, songs from the Civil War era and railroad songs. Max has performed at the Old Bethpage Village Restoration, the Smithtown Historical Society, the Long Island Railroad Museum, and many other museums and sites throughout the east coast. This memorable event should not be missed!
LIVING HISTORY AT CROSSROADS FARM IN MALVERNE
The Grossmann family farmed this land for more than one hundred years. In 2010, Nassau County purchased Grossmann’s Farm for open space. Since then the farm has been stewarded by the Nassau Land Trust, a private non-profit organization that preserves land in Nassau County. Crossroads Farm, a project of the Nassau Land Trust, is a NOFA-certified organic farm serving the public, schools, and individuals. Join Leonore Russell, one of the founding members and Education Director, for a talk and a tour.
Learn about the history of the land dating back to the Native Americans and the stewardship of the Grossmann family.
“Daring and Intrepid Airwomen: Long Island’s Pioneer Women Aviators”
at the Jericho Public Library, In person or via zoom
1 Merry Lane, Jericho
(This program replaced “McKim, Mead & White and the Creation of an Imagined American Aristocracy” when the scheduled speaker, Mosette Broderick, had to cancel the day before.)
"The Tuskegee Airmen in World War II" at the Jericho Public Library, 1 Merry Lane, Jericho
In person or via zoom
The Tuskegee Airmen were dedicated, determined young men who enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps to become America’s first black military airmen. They accepted the challenge during a time when many people thought that Blacks were inferior to whites in intelligence, skill, courage, and patriotism. Of the estimated 16,000 involved, nearly 1,000 were trained in Tuskegee Alabama, to be pilots of fighter and bomber airplanes. The famed 332nd fighter group is most noted for their distinguished record escorting B-17 bombers and the distinctive Red Tails on their P-51 fighters. The Tuskegee Airmen received the Congressional Gold Medal in 2007.
Reynard Burns, President of the Tri-State Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen, and Patt Terrelongue, the daughter of a Tuskegee Airman, will tell the story of the Tuskegee Airmen.
Paul Van Wie, "The Hempstead Plains"
The Hempstead Plains, the only natural tallgrass prairie east of the Appalachian Mountains, once covered approximately 40,000 acres in the center of Nassau County. A unique ecological habitat, the Plains were home to a diverse community of plants and animals. Today, a remnant of the Plains continues to exist as a nature preserve, a unique gem in a heavily developed area. The Plains played a prominent and unique role in
American history. It served as the “Cradle of American Aviation,” a military training ground for over 200 years, a laboratory for suburbanization, and the scene of America’s first horse racing course.
Dr. van Wie is the editor of a new book on the Plains published by the Friends of Hempstead Plains.
Claire Bellerjeau “The Discovery of David Maltbie”
Davenport Press Restaurant
At the Annual Meeting and Luncheon of the Nassau County Historical Society on October 23rd join historian and author Claire Bellerjeau for a special presentation about her discovery of a Revolutionary War spy named David Maltbie, whose exploits closely parallel the story of Nathan Hale. Through letters, newspaper accounts, and military records Bellerjeau traced Maltbie’s espionage activities in Oyster Bay and New York City, with details that closely mirror Hale’s experience, with one important exception – Maltbie survived. Hear about how David Maltbie successfully delivered intelligence, was captured, held captive by the British, and managed to escape - only to be re-captured at the war’s end and released due to the evacuation. The fascinating life of David Maltbie represents a new and exciting true story of the Revolution, and reminds all lovers of history that there are still new heroes waiting to be discovered.
Book signing and sales of Claire Bellerjeau’s Espionage and Enslavement book will follow. The ticket price is $55 in advance, and $60 at the door.
Claire Bellerjeau is the co-author of “Espionage and Enslavement in the Revolution: The True Story of Robert Townsend and Elizabeth”, published in May of 2021. Bellerjeau is the founder of a non-profit organization called Remember Liss, with the mission to educate the community about the extraordinary life and times of an enslaved Black woman from New York named Elizabeth, or Liss. She has been researching the Townsend family and those they enslaved for over seventeen years and has developed educational programs on the subjects of slavery in New York and the American Revolution on Long Island.
“Gold Coast Warriors: The North Shore Elite and First World War"
Richard F. Welch
Based on the recently published, Long Island’s Gold Coast Elite and the Great War, the program explores how the leading families of the North Shore, through a potent combination of ethnic background, social status, clear eyed geopolitical calculation, and financial self-interest mobilized to support the Allies at the outbreak of war in 1914. Morgan bankers, movie producers, society glitterati, government officials, politically connected lawyers and one ex-president arranged massive loans and supplies for the Allies, while agitating for militarization and intervention. These efforts undercut the Wilson Administration’s official policy of neutrality and set the country on a course which led inexorably to war with Germany in 1917. The participation of the Gold Coast elite, on the homefront and overseas, is also discussed.
Richard F. Welch taught American history at Long Island University and Farmingdale State College. He was editor of the Long Island Forum from 1991 to 2014, and a contributing editor of the Journal of Long Island History. The author of numerous articles and reviews, he has written seven books, the most recent being Long Island’s Gold Coast Warriors. The North Shore Elite and World War One (2021). He was also a contributor to the Encyclopedia of New York State. He is currently a trustee of the Suffolk County Historical Society.
“The Golden Age of Aviation on Long Island"
Tom Barry, Assistant Director of Education at Cradle of Aviation
The years between the end of World War I and the beginning of World War II are often referred to as the “Golden Age” of aviation. On Long Island, aircraft manufacturing boomed and pioneering pilots made countless flights to and from the area’s many airfields, mostly located on the Hempstead Plains in Nassau County. In fact, Charles Lindbergh’s famed first solo transatlantic flight departed from Roosevelt Field in May 1927. So important was Long Island to this period of flying history, it quickly became known as the “Cradle of Aviation.” Find out more about Long Island’s significant contributions to this “Golden Age” as Tom Barry, educator at the Cradle of Aviation Museum, speaks about the many aviation firsts that occurred here during the 1920s and beyond.
Louis Armstrong (1901-1971) was one of the most famous and influential musicians of all time, changing the course of music with his innovations as a trumpeter and vocalist. Emblematic of the Jazz Age and the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s, Armstrong’s unique sound was wildly popular and widely sought-after. Yet while the entertainer toured all over the world throughout the course of his illustrious career, he called nearby Corona, Queens, home for the last 28 years of his life.
Join Ricky Riccardi, Director of Research Collections at the Louis Armstrong House Museum and author of two Armstrong biographies, as he discusses Armstrong’s historic career, shows rare footage of the trumpeter in action. and describes the mission of the museum today as well as its future plans to celebrate the legacy of one of Queens’--and Long Island’s--greatest citizens.
“Espionage and Enslavement in the Revolution: The True Story of Robert Townsend and Elizabeth”
Join author Claire Bellerjeau for a talk about her new book, “Espionage and Enslavement in the Revolution: The True Story of Robert Townsend and Elizabeth”. In January 1785, a young enslaved woman from Oyster Bay named Elizabeth was put on board the Lucretia in New York Harbor, bound for Charleston, where she would be sold to her fifth master in just twenty-two years. Leaving behind a small child she had little hope of ever seeing again, Elizabeth was faced with the stark reality of being sold south to a life quite different from any she had known before. She had no idea that Robert Townsend, a son of the family she was enslaved by, would locate her, safeguard her child, and return her to New York—nor how her story would help turn one of America’s first spies into an early abolitionist. Robert Townsend is best known as one of George Washington’s most trusted spies, but few know about how he worked to end slavery. Elizabeth’s bold and daring struggle for freedom introduces a new historic narrative for African Americans in general and women in particular. As Robert and Elizabeth’s story unfolds, prominent figures from history cross their path, including George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, Benedict Arnold, John André and John Adams; as well as the Culper Spy Ring, the Boston Massacre, the Sons of Liberty, the Battle of Long Island, Franklin’s Paris negotiations, and the Benedict Arnold treason plot.
Dr. Allison McGovern is a professional archaeologist with Richard Grubb and Associates and a Gardiner Writing Fellow at the Gotham Center for New York City History. She will discuss how her research reveals dynamic and multi-faceted views of Long Island’s past peoples and communities through historical archaeology. She integrates archaeology with historic research methods in her preservation work. More information on the program will be
available later, but please save the date for this interesting program.
“Isle of Shells: An Illustrated History of Long Island Beaches”
Kristen J. Nyitray
For centuries, Long Island’s beaches have provided sustenance, relaxation, and inspiration. Long Island’s history is uniquely intertwined with its beaches including its sandy Atlantic Ocean surf beaches, calm bayfront beaches, and rugged North Shore Long Island Sound beaches. First inhabited by Indigenous peoples, the area was called Sewanhacky ("Isle of Shells") in reverence to the offerings received where the water met the land. Kristen J. Nyitray will discuss her book Long Island Beaches through a curated selection of manuscripts, postcards, photographs, and maps that illustrate the history and diversity of Nassau and Suffolk Counties’ shores.
Kristen J. Nyitray is Associate Librarian at Stony Brook University where she is Director of Special Collections and University Archives, and University Archivist. Her publications include the books Long Island Beaches (Arcadia, 2019) and Stony Brook: State University of New York (Arcadia, 2002).
She has provided commentary in several film and television projects including the documentary Greetings from Fire Island, the television series Secrets of the Arsenal, and News 12’s Long Island’s Hidden Past. A Certified Archivist (C.A.) and Digital Archives Specialist (DAS), she holds degrees from Stony Brook University and Queens College, and is a recipient of the State University of New York’s Chancellor’s and President’s awards for Excellence in Librarianship.
“The Lido Club Hotel” - Joanne Belli
The Lido Club Hotel officially opened in June 1928 as a swanky oceanfront resort adjacent to the world-class Lido Golf Course. Built by Sen. William H. Reynolds, who previously bought and developed nearby Long Beach, the Lido Club Hotel featured a striking architectural design with twin cupolas and became a playground for socialites, industrialists, and politicians. In 1942, the US Navy requisitioned the hotel as a naval training and separation center. After the war, the Lido Club Hotel was leased to the newly formed United Nations and housed over 500 of its personnel. The hotel returned to civilian hands in 1947 and was once again a fashionable seaside resort with a wealthy clientele. Over the next 30 years, many well- known entertainers such as Sammy Davis Jr. and Barbra Streisand performed in Lido’s Starlight Room. In 1980, the Lido Club Hotel was sold to developers and converted into a luxury oceanfront condominium., Lido Beach Towers, that remains a local landmark with a fascinating past.
Joanne Belli is an educator, a trustee of the Long Beach Historical Society, and a volunteer in the society’s archives. She resides at Lido Beach Towers.
True crimes and why people are led to commit them have fascinated people for centuries. In Historic Crimes of Long Island; Misdeeds from the 1600s to the 1950s, award-winning author and historian Kerriann Flanagan Brosky uncovers some of the most ghastly historical crimes committed on Long Island – from the tar, feathering and murder of Charles Kelsey in 1872, to the East Hampton witch trial of 1657, to the kidnapping of Alice Parson in 1937. Join her as she discusses some of Long Island’s most horrific crimes.
The speaker is Kerriann Flanagan Brosky. Eight-time, award winning author and historian Kerriann Flanagan Brosky, has been featured in numerous publications including The New York Times, Newsday and Distinction magazine. She has appeared on CBS' Sunday Morning Show, "Ticket" with Laura Savini, News 12 Long Island, and The Thinking Writer in East Hampton, for her previously published non-fiction books. Kerriann served on the Board of Trustees as First Vice President for the Huntington Historical Society for six years, and she served as a Trustee for the Greenlawn-Centerport Historical Association for three years. Kerriann is the recipient of the Top Advocate for Historic Preservation and Education award from the Oyster Bay Historical Society, the Huntington Heritage Education Award from the Town of Huntington, and Woman of Distinction award from the New York State Assembly.
“Winning Votes for Women on Long Island and the Nation” - Natalie Naylor
Women in New York State secured the vote in 1917, and in 1920, the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution was ratified, extending the vote to all women in the United States. National suffrage leaders came to Long Island and several Long Islanders made a mark on the national scene. Alva Vanderbilt Belmont, Harriot Stanton Blatch, and Rosalie Gardiner Jones are among the better-known local suffragists, but countless woman campaigned for suffrage. “General” Rosalie Jones won her fame when she led hikes from New York City to Albany and Washington, DC in 1912 and 1913. New York’s “I Voted” sticker in 2017 had a picture of Rosalie Jones and in 2021, the state will be erecting a statue of her in front of the Cold Spring Harbor Library, a few miles from her home in Nassau County.
The speaker is Natalie Naylor, past president of the Nassau County Historical Society, editor of its annual Journal, and a retired professor from Hofstra University.
Errata: The 19th amendment of the US Constitution required 3/4 (not 2/3 as mentioned in the webinar) of the states to ratify it.
N.C.H.S. Annual Meeting, and a program on “Long Island’s Classic Suburbs: Garden City and Levittown” - Professor Paul van Wie, Molloy College
Program: Garden City and Levittown are two famous landmarks in the history of suburban America. Located just a few miles apart on what was once the Hempstead Plains, the two communities were founded in different centuries, under different circumstances, and for different reasons. Despite their differences in origin and subsequent development, the two communities share some underlying similarities. This presentation will explore some of those similarities and differences, and in the process examine some interesting aspects of the American and Long Island suburban experience. You may remember that Dr. van Wie spoke to our Historical Society some years ago on “Nineteenth-Century German Settlements on Long Island.”
“Webb Institute‘s Glen Cove Campus” - Renne Tremblay and Linda Waters
While the Webb Institute campus was closed due to the coronavirus pandemic of 2020, we were able to hold our first ever virtual (ie: online) webinar meeting using Zoom technology.
Nestled adjacent to the Long Island Sound is Webb Institute, a unique engineering school where roughly one hundred students are educated in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering. Hidden behind huge wrought-iron gates at the entrance to the college is a massive mansion on the grounds that was once the “Braes,” the country estate of American businessman Herbert Lee Pratt (1871-1945). Learn about the architectural history of the main building and its transition from a glamorous 1920s summer home into one-of-a-kind learning center and dorms, as well as the unique history of the property and additional buildings on campus.
Our speakers were Webb Institute seniors. For their “Maritime History of Long Island” course, Renee Tremblay delved into the history of the Webb Institute’s campus while Linda Waters studied the architecture of the original mansion, now Stevenson Taylor Hall.
Thanks are due to Webb Institute seniors Renee Tremblay and Linda Waters, who hosted and lead this webinar for us. There were about 40 viewers and we were very pleased with this turnout and the kindness of everyone on the call.
“Long Island and Whaling” - Bill Bleyer
Community Church of East Williston
Bill Bleyer, author of Long Island and the Sea: A Maritime History, will present a PowerPoint lecture covering the Native Americans who hunted whales offshore from canoes, to the first whaling companies in America in Southampton, to the rise of industrial-scale whaling in Sag Harbor, Greenport and Cold Spring Harbor, to the famous whaler Mercator Cooper and his trip to the closed society of Japan, to the demise of the industry from the Gold Rush, the Civil War and the discovery of oil in Pennsylvania. Bill is a retired Newsday reporter who has also written books on Sagamore Hill, Fire Island Lighthouse, and Long Island and the Civil War (co-author).
“History of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy” - Dr. Joshua Smith
Community Church of East Williston
Long Island is home to one of the federal service academies, the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, which is located in Kings Point on the former Walter Chrysler estate. Learn about the creation of the Academy, the Kings Point neighborhood before the foundation of the USMMA in 1942, why the Academy was created, and its distinctive war-built campus. The presentation will feature images of the campus, especially from the 1940s.
Our speaker, Joshua M. Smith, is a professor of Humanities at the USMMA and Director of the adjacent American Merchant Marine Museum. Dr. Smith is the author of several books on maritime history and is currently writing “Yankee Doodle Upset,” on Maine and the War of 1812.
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