Monday, April 11, 2016

Contemporary Struggles in the Mohawk Valley and Central New York

As promised, we’re delivering Part II of our history seniors’ “One Cool Source” from their individual projects, which they will present at the Utica College History Department's / Center for Historical Research's annual History Project Symposium. Each student is researching a project that connects with the theme “Superheroes” in the Mohawk Valley, which entails the reconstruction of events in the region's past that involved triumph over adversity, or struggles in power. Here’s a bit about the remaining topics from this year’s seniors.

Adam Tomblin

Fairies, Fury, and Freedom:  The Struggle for LGBT Equality in Central New York

Famous gay rights pioneer Harvey Milk once said: “If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door.” To understand Milk’s statement, one must understand the struggle for LGBT freedom and equality. My historical research paper, “Fairies, Fury, and Freedom: LGBT Rights Activism in Central New York.” This focuses on the activism in the LGBT community in Central New York and how localized movements sparked the beginning of the broader LGBT rights movement. My argument is that, without local grassroots movements, there would not have been a national or international movement to ensure the protection and equal treatment of LGBT persons. The grassroots are the reason for the success of the LGBT rights movement. Primary sources are critical to my research. The main primary sources I use are in-person interviews with local activists, who were instrumental in LGBT activism before it was more open and popular. The people I interviewed are incredible, both in resilience and just sheer gestalt. If someone asks me why I am doing this project, I will explain the importance of knowing where the struggle began, why it happened, where it has taken us, and what we still have left to do.

Amanda Backer  

Closed for Business:  Boonville and Globalization

I have wondered about a building in my town that is considered to be an eye sore. It is a reminder of the good old days in Boonville: the Ethan Allen furniture company building. My curiosity about the building led to many questions about Boonville’s past. Looking for answers led to two key newspaper articles. One is a 1999 article about Ethan Allen’s 7.6 million dollar expansion of its Boonville plant and the creation of almost fifty new jobs. In an interview, the CEO stated that Ethan Allen was about keeping jobs local, in America, and that the company respected its workers and was optimistic about the future. Just five years later, another newspaper article announced the sudden closure of the plant, which put 250 Boonville residents out of a job. What would cause the company to spend 7.6 million dollars on an expansion project, only to close its doors a few years later?  Like many companies, Ethan Allen was looking for a cheaper way to manufacture its products. It closed its American facilities and moved the jobs elsewhere. These two “cool sources” launched my research project and revealed how global economic competition could affect a small town in Central New York. [1]

Zach Handy

The Corporatization of Education: How Big Money Corporations are Destroying the Teaching Profession in Gloversville and New Hartford, New York

Becoming an educator has always been a dream of mine. I am currently enrolled in Utica College’s teacher certification tract. When it came time for me to choose my topic for my senior history research project, I had no idea what I wanted to do. However, when I really thought about the things that I am most passionate about, teaching was one of the first things that came to my mind. The history of education caught my eye because all of the controversy that the profession is facing lately. The teachers are upset with the Department of Education, and many students are opting out of almost all of the state tests. I decided to research the history of standardized tests, as well as education corporations to show how the history of these things can cause the controversy we are seeing today. One of the primary sources that I am excited about is an interview with a Utica College education professor. This professor has knowledge of local education, as well as its history. I am expecting this professor to give me many first hand examples of how he reacted to standardized testing, as well as his opinion on the matter to compare with other educators I plan on interviewing. This particular professor, however, has a lot to say about educational practices that could potentially be doing more harm than good. I believe interviewing him will provide “one cool source” because he has so much knowledge about the subject, as well as so much to say about it.


[1] “Ethan Allen closing 2 plants,” Furniture Today, April 22, 2004.

No comments:

Post a Comment