Monday, June 30, 2014

Helping History

Albany is one of the oldest and most historic cities in the United States.  Sadly, much of our tangible history has been lost to progress.  Look around the city and you will see only a few traces of Albany's colonial era, its role in the Revolutionary War, its development as a city before the Civil War.  And, certainly, a great swath of the city was consumed with the construction of the Empire State Plaza (a subject still hotly debated decades after the fact.

There is certainly good reason to regret the historic treasures that are lost. But this is the time to not only protect what tangible history we still have, but to PROMOTE it.  It's not just about historic preservation, but also making use of what we have.

Social Media

Many local historic sites and museums have a presence on social networks. Find their web site or blog, their Facebook page or Twitter. Like or follow it and, even more importantly, don't just favorite their posts. SHARE THEM. Post to their walls. Share your related photos with them. Help expand their reach instead of just passively showing support.

Friends of...

Many have a “Friends of” group. You don't have to join every single one. But pick one or two that you have a strong interest in and join at whatever level you can afford. If nothing else, you'll likely get an interesting newsletter several times a year. Take part in their scheduled events and spread the word about them. Share their schedules. Invite people to come along with you. Share photos from the events. And, as above, if the Friends have a social media presence, like it and share it.

Visit

Haven't been to your favorite museum in a while? Go. There's definitely a new exhibit or two and it's always great to revisit the old ones. Maybe there's a picture or object that you casually passed the last time that you will see from a different perspective now. Haven't been to that historic mansion since your middle school field trip? It's still there. It's still open. And it needs visitors. Bring a friend and, once again, share the experience whatever way you can.  Maybe you'll find a chance to volunteer, too.

Read

There are scores of excellent books on Albany's past.  Many are out of print, but still accessible.  Some, like Joel Munsell's multi-volume Annals of Albany are available through Google Books or Archive.org.  Others can easily be obtaining through inter-library loan. 

Local history isn't a dead thing, but it needs a bit of life.  Support it and share it.





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