american history

  The Schenectady County Historical Society was founded in 1905 to preserve the history of the area. The Society’s museum and local history and genealogy research library have been located at 32 Washington Avenue in the Stockade neighborhood in Schenectady since 1958.

They are opening a new exhibition this weekend entitled "Canals and Railroads: Collaboration to Competition." The exhibit explores the beginnings of the Canal Era and New York State’s early railroads which were built to enhance and complement–rather than compete with– the waterway system.

It is a traveling exhibit, put together by Alco Historical and Technical Society historian, Dave Gould and Alco Historical and Technical Society designer, John Kolwaite. They join us now along with Mary Zawacki, Curator for the Schenectady County Historical Society.

    Teddy Roosevelt described the power of the presidency to shape public opinion as “The Bully Pulpit”. That's also the title of the new book from presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, in which she writes about William Howard Taft and Teddy Roosevelt and explains the unique relationship forged with reporters.

This is an Off the Shelf edition of The Book Show in partnership with Northshire Bookstore in Saratoga Springs, NY and recorded before a live audience.


  Few commodities figure as prominently or as intimately in the story of the nation as bourbon whiskey. Bourbon is Dane Huckelbridge's artful and imaginative biography of our most well-liked, and at times controversial, spirit, that is also a witty and entertaining chronicle of the United States itself.

In telling the story of bourbon, Huckelbridge takes us on a lively tour across three hundred years. Introducing the fascinating people central to its creation and evolution, he illuminates the elusive character of the nation itself.


  Former 2nd Lady of the United States, Lynne Cheney, has spent decades studying the nation's fourth president, James Madison. The result of that labor is the new 564-page book, James Madison: A Life Reconsidered.

Father of the Constitution, principle author of the Bill of Rights, founder of the first opposition party, Secretary of State and fourth President was a masterful politician who Cheney believes, despite all his accomplishments, has been overshadowed by other founders.

Lynne Cheney is the wife of former Vice President Dick Cheney, is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and is the author of 12 books, several on American history.

  While Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s first hundred days may be the most celebrated period of his presidency, the months before the attack on Pearl Harbor proved the most critical. Beginning as early as 1939 when Germany first attacked Poland, Roosevelt skillfully navigated a host of challenges—a reluctant population, an unprepared military, and disagreements within his cabinet—to prepare the country for its inevitable confrontation with the Axis.

In No End Save Victory, esteemed historian David Kaiser draws on extensive archival research to reveal the careful preparations that enabled the United States to win World War II.

    One hundred years after his inauguration, Woodrow Wilson still stands as one of the most influential figures of the twentieth century, and one of the most enigmatic. 

And now, after more than a decade of research and writing, Pulitzer Prize-winning author A. Scott Berg has completed Wilson--the most personal and penetrating biography ever written about the 28th President.

    Six years after Lewis and Clark's began their journey to the Pacific Northwest, two of the Eastern establishment's leading figures, John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson, turned their sights to founding a colony akin to Jamestown on the West Coast and transforming the nation into a Pacific trading power.

Author and correspondent for Outside magazine Peter Stark recreates this pivotal moment in American history, drawing on original source material to tell the amazing true story of the Astor Expedition in his book, Astoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson's Lost Pacific Empire: A Story of Wealth, Ambition, and Survival.


  Nearly 130 years before the American Revolution, musket-wielding patriots and Massachusetts militiamen fought for the ideals of democracy, individual freedom, and liberty – all on the shores of the country they had once left behind.

One family in particular witnessed – and actively participated in – both the creation of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and the horrific war back in their homeland. Pirate-hunters, revolutionaries, visionaries, and pioneers, this clan built new societies and, in their own small way, changed the world.

Adrian Tinniswood describes their remarkable impact on both sides of the Atlantic in his new book, The Rainborowes: One Family’s Quest to Build a New England.


  This Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (April 11 – 13), The Underground Railroad History Project of the Capital Region will present their 13th Public History Conference. This year’s conference is entitled Slavery and the Underground Railroad: the Larger Context, the Lingering Legacy and is co-sponsored by Russell Sage College, The Department of History and Society at Russell Sage College, and the Rensselaer County Historical Society.

Here now to tell us all about it are Brea Barthel, a co-coordinator of the Conference, and Professor at SUNY Albany and RPI and Paul Stewart, Scholar in Residence at Russell Sage College and co-founder of the Underground Railroad History Project of the Capital Region.

    The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was the single most important piece of legislation passed by Congress in American history. This one law so dramatically altered American society that, looking back, it seems preordained—as Everett Dirksen, the GOP leader in the Senate and a key supporter of the bill, said, “no force is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.” But there was nothing predestined about the victory: a phalanx of powerful senators, pledging to “fight to the death” for segregation, launched the longest filibuster in American history to defeat it.

This critical turning point in American history has never been thoroughly explored in a full-length account. Now, New York Times editor and acclaimed author Clay Risen delivers the full story, in The Bill of the Century: The Epic Battle for the Civil Rights Act.