02/04/17 11:00am
NICOLE SMITH PHOTO Interior of the Suffolk County Historical Society.

NICOLE SMITH PHOTO Interior of the Suffolk County Historical Society.

“Civil Rights on Long Island” is a new book by Christopher Verga. And, kicking off his January 21 presentation at the Suffolk County Historical Society in Riverhead, Mr. Verga said he “chose the project” because it involves something that has “fallen through the cracks.” (more…)

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09/27/16 8:00am
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO Mattituck-Laurel Library director Jeff Walden looks over the many donated files.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO Mattituck-Laurel Library director Jeff Walden looks over the many donated files.

In the margins of hundreds of pages filed in binders, Greenport native Bill Hulse took copious notes and tucked them away in boxes of old family photos, newspaper clippings and cemetery maps.

Next to records of each wedding celebration, every obituary and on all the birth announcements, Mr. Hulse recorded numbers.

Those numbers were linked to the database he built up over decades documenting more than 60,000 descendants of the founding families of the North Fork. Each number represented an entry in the catalogue, which traced the history of the North and South forks and Shelter Island, fanning out from the first Hulses, Raynors, Hallocks, Youngs and Hawkinses. (more…)

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08/29/16 4:30pm
NICOLE SMITH PHOTO Suffolk County Historical Society unveils 10 Towns exhibit

NICOLE SMITH PHOTO Suffolk County Historical Society unveils 10 Towns exhibit

The late 1800s featured a lot of change for the country — President James A. Garfield was assassinated, skyscrapers rose throughout cities, electric lighting became more prominent, the Great Blizzard immobilized the East Coast and Coca-Cola was created. (more…)

04/17/13 5:00pm

KARL GROSSMAN

The exhibit now at the Suffolk County Historical Society in Riverhead is a chilling and disturbing presentation on racism toward African-Americans.  “Hidden and Forbidden: Art and Objects of Intolerance, Evolving Depictions of Blacks in America,” begins with a section on “Slavery” and ends with “Black Movements in America.”

The story of racism is not just history — in the U.S. or on Long Island.

ERASE Racism has in recent years been a leading group documenting and challenging racism here. The mission of Long Island’s chapter is “to expose forms of racial discrimination and advocate for laws and policies that help eliminate racial disparities, particularly in the areas of housing, community development, public education and health.”  Currently on its website — eraseracismny.org — is a map depicting in colors how the racial and ethnic make-up of most Long Island communities differ sharply.

Most are overwhelmingly white. And then there are the areas where African-Americans and Latinos are concentrated. In Suffolk County these include North Amityville, Wyandanch, Brentwood, Central Islip, Gordon Heights and Riverhead.

A caption for the chart reads: “Despite a 35 percent increase of people of color on Long Island from 2000 to 2010, levels of segregation remain extremely high, according to ERASE Racism’s new demographic analysis.” That analysis concludes: “Long Island is one of the most racially segregated regions in the country.”

ERASE Racism says that on Long Island “even the most affluent black and Hispanic homeowners are segregated into majority black and Hispanic communities with high concentrations of poverty.” It finds that a key is “steering” by real estate agents — agents who “would not show, sell, or rent” minorities “homes in mostly white areas” even when “they could, in fact, have afforded those homes.” This steering is illegal.

There are some who say with Barack Obama the president of the United States, we live in a “post-racial time.” That, unfortunately, isn’t true.
The exhibition at the Historical Society’s section on slavery includes ledger books listing the sale of slaves. “American economic foundations were built on free labor of enslaved Africans,” notes the program for the exhibit. Next is a section on “Jim Crow,” about restrictions designed to “instill the inferiority” of blacks to whites and establish “segregated and separate facilities” for blacks that “were often neglected, deplorable and inferior.”

Then there is a section titled “Characterizations.” The program speaks of the portrayal of blacks in “popular culture” as “cannibalistic savages, hypersexual deviants, childlike buffoons, obedient servants, self-loathing victims, and menaces to society.” Hideous artifacts are displayed.

“Homegrown Terrorists: the Ku Klux Klan” is a section on the hate group that includes a KKK robe and a newspaper article about a KKK leader speaking in Quogue.

“Exploits” is a section on black “caricatures” being used in the names of products and advertising of them —“Uncle Tom, the Picaninny, Mammy Coon, Tragic Mulatto.”

Then there’s “Black Movements in America” and how, “as a result of public discourse, civil disobedience” and, notably, the civil rights movement, change came through “laws, policies and practices.”

The exhibit was curated by Georgette Grier-Key, director and chief curator of the Eastville Community Historical Society in Sag Harbor, Hofstra University’s Oral History Programming Director David Byer-Tyre, and Kathryn Curran, executive director of the Suffolk Historical Society.

It will be running through June 1. Dr. Grier-Key says the exhibit offers “a conceptual framework of images and objects that are often hidden because of fear and perceived perception” and that it is through “historical retrospect that this part of American history is viewed, shared, taught, learned and spoken.”

There is a quote featured on the cover of the program by Maya Angelou: “History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.”

04/14/12 7:00am

Shelter Island herbalist and educator Sarah Sheppard shared Native Americans stories with children as part of the spring break program, “Montaukett Princess Heather Flower” Thursday morning on the lawn of the Suffolk County Historical Society building in Riverhead.

The children created Native American medicine bags, crafted using rose petals, bay leaves, cinnamon, jasmine flowers, rosemary, cloves and a special stone.

The medicine Bags were traditionally carried by Native Americans on their journeys, put under pillows for luck and held closely to remember their relatives, she said.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTOS | Shelter Island native herbalist and educator Sarah Sheppard (second from left) on the lawn of the Suffolk County Historical Society, where she taught kids about Native American culture Thursday.

John Foley, 9, of Riverhead (from left), Bryn Stevenson, 9, of Riverhead, Amelia Stevenson, 8, of Riverhead and Jack Lacey, 9, of Mastic Beach grind up herbs and flowers for their medicine bags.

Bryn Stevenson, 9, of Riverhead uses a clam shell to fill the medicine bag.

A stone is placed in each bag.

Dried jasmine flowers.

Bridgette Murphy, 8, of Riverhead and April Gonzales, 7, of Riverhead grind the flowers and herbs in a mortar and pestle for their medicine bags.