HIST 313: Upstate History (new)
MW 2:45–4:00, Alumni Hall 108
Faye Dudden, Professor of History
Course description: Upstate New York has a rich history. In the late 1700s, it was a borderland between Europeans and Native Americans. Pre–Civil War, it was a hotbed of radical social movements, an economic powerhouse fed by canals and railroads, and a haven for all sorts of “isms,” from millenarianism to utopian communism. Later, it became home to industries and immigrants. Recently, upstate has exemplified the declining fortunes of the “rustbelt.” This course explores upstate issues of national significance, as well as phenomena unique to the area.
On the reading list: Cross, The Burned-Over District: The Social and Intellectual History of Enthusiastic Religion in Western New York, 1800–1850; Sheriff, The Artificial River: The Erie Canal and the Paradox of Progress, 1817–1862; Stauffer, The Black Hearts of Men: Radical Abolitionists and the Transformation of Race; Ginsberg, Untidy Origins: A Story of Women’s Rights in Antebellum New York
Key assignments/activities: Long paper on a site study; field trips including to the home of the utopian Oneida Community (1848–1880)
The professor says: I’ve been thinking about developing this course for years; any historian who specializes in 19th-century social history knows the importance of the “Burned-Over District” here in upstate. An example of the students’ site studies is one focusing on the 1821 exhumation of the body of Major Andre, the British spy who was executed for his role in the Benedict Arnold treason plot; he was originally buried in Rockland County. So far, the class is most enthused about Alan Taylor’s book William Cooper’s Town; we brought in a speaker from the New York State Historical Association, and the students suggested we invite Taylor himself.
Live and learn
Lindsey Jacobson ’10 reports: During winter break, 12 other students and I rekindled ties made by alumni more than 100 years ago, in an extended study trip to India.
We were all students in Religion 326A: Far From Thy Valley, a course dedicated to studying Colgate Baptist missionaries and their contributions to communities in northeast India. The course, taught by Asian studies, philosophy, and religion professor John Ross Carter, focused on the alumni as individuals and examined the dedication they needed to face missionary life. Each student then chose a missionary (a Colgate alumnus or spouse) to write a paper on.
Visiting the Council of Baptist Churches in North East India, Eastern Theological College, and Harding Theological College, we presented our papers to descendents of the people who were converted to Christianity by Colgate alumni, including Miles Bronson 1836, Cyrus Barker 1838, Ira Stoddard 1845, William Ward 1848, M.C. Mason 1872, Elnathan G. Phillips 1872, P.H. Moore 1876, and Frederick W. Harding 1904.
It was exciting to see the real-world connection to our classwork. The students and faculty we met in India were also inspired to learn more about the Colgate men and women who had such an impact on their lives. They expressed how grateful they were to the missionaries, and by extension, treated us with much kindness everywhere we went. We were considered honored guests, and they incorporated us into their “college families” through cultural presentations and sports.
It was an honor to represent Colgate and to be associated with the fine men and women who risked their lives for a calling.
See a slideshow of photos from the trip at www.colgate.edu/photos
Good to know: research projects yield tips and advice
The research findings of students who took last fall’s Geographic Information Systems course, taught by professors Adam Burnett and Pete Scull, could be useful to a variety of people, from government officials to vacation planners. In a project aimed at demonstrating their ability to use GIS to collect data, formulate an appropriate analysis, and cogently present their results, the students were given carte blanche to come up with their own topics, said Burnett. Some added a GIS dimension to research for another class; others explored aspects of a personal interest. Whether serious or more lighthearted, Burnett said, all of the projects had good GIS science going on behind them. Here is a sampling:
America’s Next MLB Team If expansion is planned, Albuquerque, N.M., should be the next city to have a Major League Baseball team. Sara Aschheim ’11 studied factors for success, which include a city far from another with an existing team, with the financial wherewithal to support a team, and a significant Latino population, reflecting the growing interest in baseball among that group.
Accessing Food Lack of access to quality food outlets correlates directly with areas of higher poverty in Madison County, N.Y., where 11 percent of residents live in poverty. Jen Rusciano ’10 found that the areas with 12 to 15 percent of residents living below the poverty line had 11 low-quality and six high-quality food outlets, while areas with only 2.6 to 7 percent of residents below the poverty line had seven high-quality and only two low-quality stores. Many areas, particularly impoverished ones, are not served by any, she found. Food for thought for county officials and developers.
Rise in Lyme Disease Get out the bug spray and pull up your socks. The incidence of Lyme disease — carried by deer ticks — in New York has risen sharply (1,000 more cases in 2008 than in 2007). Cat Weiss ’10 attributes that rise to the increased contact between deer and humans due to increasing proximity. She found that perimeters of residential land that borders deer habitat, as well as land with nearby water sources that borders deer habitat, rose significantly between 1992 and 2001.
Which Route to Choose? If you plan to bike across America, Meg Hanley ’11 recommends you take the Trans-America Bicycle Trail from Astoria, Ore., to Yorktown, Va. Of the three major cross-country routes, it is the longest, and has the largest percentages of the route within parks. And while it covers more ground with steep slopes than the Southern Tier route, the mid-latitude TransAmerica trail presents bikers with a more temperate climate than either the Southern or Northern Tier routes.