Wednesday, January 27 at 6:30 pm- Henry DiSpirito: Stonemason to Sculptor (Virtual)

Join Ashley Hopkins-Benton, Senior Historian and Curator of Social History at the New York State Museum, to explore the life and art of Henry DiSpirito. DiSpirito (1898–1995) emigrated from Italy in 1921, and found a nurturing home in Utica, NY. A stonemason and bricklayer by trade, he longed to devote his life to art. He found his calling in the direct-carving style of sculpture and became an accomplished painter. He exhibited at the Whitney, MoMA, and SculptureCenter in New York City, and was appointed the first artist-in-residence at Utica College. Through his art, DiSpirito developed a deep connection with students and faculty, as well as the larger community in Utica.

This virtual program is free and open to all; advanced registration is required. You will receive a link and instruction on how to join this online event after registration is complete.
Branching Out with DNA Testing: Virtual Genealogy Workshop- Part II Coming Soon!

Join professional genealogist Pamela Vittorio to learn how DNA testing can be used to trace your roots. This virtual workshop will cover the major DNA testing sites, how they work, which tests to take, how to make sense of matches, vocabulary, and more lessons to help solve your genealogical mysteries. Registration includes exclusive access to the workshop video  by Ms. Vittorio and a live Q&A session with your instructor and peers (date TBA).  Register online through the OCHC Bookstore or using the mail in registration form below. Admissions: $15 for non-members and $12 for OCHC members. Members email to get your online discount code.

Workshop Info: After registration you will be provided links to access the workshop videos and to join the workshop Q&A. 

Workshop Description: At some point we all get stuck on one line or generation of our family tree where records aren't available or are not easy to find. This is a good time to turn to DNA testing. Once we start on the genetic testing path, we do need to be prepared for unexpected findings--NPE (non parental events), even in our earlier generations. We also encounter new vocabulary associated with DNA testing! This workshop will cover the major DNA testing sites and how they work, which tests to take, and how to make sense of matches. We will also dive into some of the terms used, so that you will be better equipped to analyze your results and get the most out of them.  We'll also discuss how to use charts to determine relationships with matches when those matches do not have trees, and look at a couple of examples on how genealogical problems can be solved!

Registration Coming Soon!
History Center YouTube Channel Programs 

  Into the Florence Hill Forest: Finding Your Footing in Local Historical Research

Jessica Harney shares her journey of uncovering history in a local NYS Forest through local document research, collaborative relationships, and archeological field experiences in this virtual lecture. Her research focuses on the Florence Farming and Lumber Community/Association, which was a small 19th Century settlement of both freedom seekers and free blacks who established a communal farmstead in Florence, NY through the help of local abolitionists Stephen Myers and Gerrit Smith.

View a recording of the presentation on theHistory Center YouTube Channel.

 Virtual Lecture:  Canal Archaeology in Utica

Join NY State Archaeologist David Staley to discover our local history that has been buried for nearly a century or more along Utica’s Erie and Chenango canals. Staley will transform the limestone masonry, concrete, and iron remains found underground into a bustling 19th century canal side business district, and also share how archaeological discoveries can contradict historic narratives and even reveal shady political cronyism in Utica during the 1880s.

View a recording of the presentation on the History Center YouTube Channel.

Murder & Mayhem in the Mohawk Valley 

The Mohawk Valley is a region steeped in history including fascinating historical murder cases. James Greiner, Herkimer County Historian and contributing author of Murder & Mayhem in Herkimer County, discusses cases with Utica connections in this virtual lunchtime lecture.

View a recording of the presentation on the History Center YouTube channel.

The Politics of Translation: The Legacy of the Dutch in New York 

The effort to translate the documents of the New Netherland colony has a long and winding history. Today the New Netherland Project has brought the history of the colony of New Netherland to a new generation interested in the Dutch history of New York, but the origins of the translation project began in Oneida County. From 1817 to 1822, Francis Adrian van der Kemp of Oldenbarneveld worked tirelessly to translate the records of the New Netherland colony. His efforts, however, were bogged down by the partisan politics of New York during the Early American Republic. This virtual lecture by Dr. Peter Van Cleave focuses on the struggles Van der Kemp faced as he tried to preserve the history of New Netherland and its role in the creation of the United States.

 View a recording of the presentation on the History Center YouTube channel.

Gloves Along the Mohawk

The Mohawk Valley has produced professional baseball players since the late 1800s from some of the very first professionals in baseball history, to some of the greatest players ever, to those who played only a few games in Major League Baseball. Join Lou Parrotta, the City of Utica Historian, as he shares stories of the local ballplayers who made it to the Major League in this virtual lunchtime lecture. Based on book Glove Along the Mohawk (2012) by Lou Parrott and Scott Fiesthumel.

View a recording of the presentation on the the History Center YouTube channel.

The Battle of Oriskany & Herkimer's Militia

The story of the Battle of Oriskany on August 6, 1777 has been passed down for generations, but how much do we really know about General Nicholas Herkimer and the Tryon County Militia? As historical records are scanned for digital collections, more original documents are available than ever before, painting a broader picture of the battle and its participants. Alexis Albright, curator of the Oriskany Museum, discusses this important event in our national and local history.

View a recording of the presentation on the History Center YouTube Channel

 The Conception of the Erie Canal

​ While the Erie Canal took only 8 years to dig, getting to the point where people could start digging was a nearly 100-year long process. This virtual lecture by Erie Canal Museum Educator Derrick Pratt looks at the early efforts to harness New York’s interior waterways and the political wrangling that almost kept the “Eighth Wonder of the World” from happening. 

View a recording of the presentation on the History Center YouTube Channel

"The Coney Island of Central NY”- Sylvan Beach in its Heyday 

​Dive into Oneida Lake and Sylvan Beach history with author and local expert, Jack Henke.  Henke will talk about "The Beach" during its heyday, ~1900, sharing fun facts and photos from the past.  Henke is the author of four books about Oneida Lake history including From “The Beach” to Brewerton: Stories of Oneida Lake, and Oneida Lake: “The Only Happiness” Place Names and History.

View a recording of the presentation on the History Center YouTube Channel

In Search of What She Left Behind ​

View the History Center's first virtual presentation! Barbara Dunadee will present a historic travelogue focused on finding remnants from the past left behind by notable area women. Inspired by her involvement in the two-volume series, Women Belong in History Books, Herkimer and Oneida Counties, 1700 to 1950 edited by Jane Spellman, Barb and her group organized several bus tours through parts of Herkimer and Oneida Counties showing others the rich history of this region. Her talk will feature some of what they have found while searching local highways and byways in an attempt to connect history with modern-day.

View a recording of the presentation on theHistory Center YouTube Channel

Utica's Union Station 

Construction began on Union Station in 1912 and it was completed in 1914. A central transportation hub for the region and the state, the station originally served the New York Central (NYC) Railroad, Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad, and the New York, Ontario & Western Railroad.  The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.  Join Oneida County Historian Joseph P. Bottini to discover the history behind Utica’s Union Station. He will share details of the station’s history, construction, architectural features, and renovations.
Upcoming Programs & Events

Saturday, January 16 at 11:30 am - They Came to Work, The Early Polish Immigrants of West Utica (Virtual)

Poles began to arrive in earnest in Utica in the 1880s. Their numbers grew throughout the next decades, capped only by the onset of World War I. This virtual talk by Patricia Bury Yocum looks at why the immigrants came, what they found, and where they worked. In putting down roots and raising families largely in West Utica, they created a distinct Polish presence and long legacy still extant.​​

This program is free and open to all; advanced registration is required. You will receive a link and instruction on how to join this online event after registration is complete.

​Oneida County History Center