Bethlehem Historical Association

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2019-2020 Programs

Nineteenth Century Business Women presented by Susan Lewis

Thursday, September 19 at 2 PM

LOCATION is Delmar Reformed Church and the TIME is 2 PM

Drawing from her book Unexceptional Women: Female Proprietors in Mid-Nineteenth Century Albany, Dr. Lewis will challenge our assumptions about the role of woman as only wife and mother. Her meticulous research in city directories, census records, and credit reports casts light on women running a wide variety of businesses including groceries, saloons and liquor stores, piano stores, hotels and even a plumbing company. Dr. Lewis will reveal evidence of such supposedly modern phenomena as self-employment, dual-income marriages, working motherhood, home-based business and the juggling of domestic and professional priorities.

Susan Ingalls Lewis is a Professor Emerita at the State University of New York College at New Paltz, as well as an affiliate faculty member in the Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies Program. Dr. Lewis received her B.A. from Wellesley College in 1970, and her Ph.D. from Binghamton University in 2002. She continues to teach courses on American women’s history and New York State history and is currently co-editing Suffrage and its Limits: The New York Story (to be published by SUNY Press). Professor Lewis’s monograph, Unexceptional Women: Female Proprietors in Mid-Nineteenth-Century Albany, New York, 1830-1885 (Ohio State University Press, 2009) was awarded the Hagley Prize in Business History for the best book published the field.

Hudson River Day Boats presented by Richard Brooks

Thursday, October 17 at 2 PM

LOCATION: Delmar Reformed Church

Hudson River enthusiast Richard Brooks the story of the “floating palaces” in his talk “Hudson River Day Boats” on October 17 at 2 PM at the Delmar Reformed Church, 386 Delaware Avenue, Delmar.

The Hudson River Day Line was the premier steamboat line on the Hudson River from the 1860s through the 1940s, carrying millions of passengers between Albany and New York City with many stops in-between. Brooks' talk will outline the history and growth of steamboat travel as well as specifics on the ships themselves like sizes, power trains, routes and comforts on board, He’ll wind up the talk with the eventual demise of the Day Line.

Richard Brooks made his career as an elementary school teacher with the Ravena Coeymans Selkirk School District. He has served as Councilman in New Baltimore, Greene County legislator, trustee of Columbia Greene County Community College and manager of Historic Catskill Point. He lists his favorite things as Catskill Point, visiting nursing homes with his dog, speaking at senior centers, cooking and pondering life’s mysteries.

The Irish Bridget  presented by Margaret Lynch-Brennan, PhD

Thursday, November 21, 2019 at 2 PM

LOCATION: Delmar Reformed Church

Who was the Irish Bridget? What relevance does her story have to the history of Irish immigration to America? Learn the answers to these questions in Dr. Margaret Lynch-Brennan’s presentation “The Irish Bridget: Irish Immigrant Women in Domestic Service in America, 1840-1930” which is based on her book of the same name. Dr. Lynch-Brennan will use photographs and personal letters the Irish Bridgets wrote to one another to give insight into the lives of these young immigrant girls. She will discuss their work life, their social life, the impact they had on Irish-American life, and their contribution to American ethnic history, labor history and women’s history. Dr. Lynch-Brennan will also explore the relevance of the Irish Bridget’s story to contemporary American life, in which domestic service is again populated by female immigrants, and immigration is once more controversial. 


Dr. Margaret Lynch-Brennan taught at the middle school, high school, undergraduate and graduate levels. For many years she was an administrator with the New York State Education Department (NYSED) working on issues related to civil rights, school improvement and professional development for teachers. After retiring from NYSED she taught at Hudson Valley Community College and served a two-year term as a Public Scholar for Humanities New York (a/k/a The New York Council for the Humanities). She earned a Ph.D. in American History from the University at Albany (SUNY) in 2002. Her research focuses on Irish immigrants, particularly Irish immigrant women. Her book, he Irish Bridget: Irish Immigrant Women in Domestic Service in America, 1840-1930, remains the only book published on the topic.

Native American Site Along the Dowers Kill  by Adam Luscier, Project Director with Hartgen Archaeological Associates

Date & Time: Wednesday February 19, 7 PM

Place: Delmar Reformed Church, 386 Delaware Avenue, Delmar

The Native American site that was found and excavated on the Dowers Kill in the Town of Bethlehem produced thousands of the artifacts and a carbon date of about 5,900 years ago. Luscier will talk about the artifacts and the purpose of the site. He will also cover what is known about Native groups that inhabited the Hudson Valley 5000 to 6000 years ago and where they came from.

Adam Luscier attended field school at the University of Massachusetts, then moved to Troy, New York to study Anthropology and Archaeology at the University of Albany. Passionate about nature, history and the study of the human past, Adam has excelled as a Project Director at Hartgen Archaeological Associates for 22 years. He has discovered a number of important archaeological sites, including a 1660s trading post on Van Schaick Island in Cohoes NY and the homestead of Cornelis Van Buren (Martin Van Buren’s great-great-great Grandfather) that was destroyed by a flood in 1648. Adam is also an adjunct lecturer at Schenectady County Community College and a published author and artifact illustrator.

Canceled Due to the Corona Virus

We regret the necessity of this decision but fully agree with the importance of taking containment measures as recommended by health authorities at all levels. The Town of Bethlehem is curtailing all events involving senior gatherings. That pretty much describes the majority of our organization and our audience.  Stay in touch as we do hope to be able to reschedule this event.  Meanwhile, do take care! (Posted March 12, 2020  5:30 PM)

American Folk Art by Marilyn Sassi

Date & Time: Wednesday March 18, 7 PM 

Place: Delmar Reformed Church, 386 Delaware Avenue, Delmar

Folk art expert Marilyn Sassi begins her talk with painted portraits of local, early 18th century Dutch families and the untrained artists who created them. She explores the “golden age” of American folk art from 1830 to 1850. In folk art, the most common, workaday objects are decorated turning them into true artistic expressions. From portraits and landscapes to weather vanes and carousel horses, the art is created by untrained individuals with an innate talent for color and design.

Marilyn Sassi is co-curator of the exhibit Handcrafted: The Folk and Their Art currently on view at the Schenectady Historical Society. She is an adjunct instructor at Schenectady County Community College and Hudson Valley Community College.  Sassi is the past curator of the Schenectady County Historical Association, the Fulton County Museum and the Van Alstyne Homestead Society.  In addition to her teaching and museum experience, she has had many years of involvement in the field of antiques. 

Above Left: A view of the exhibit Handcrafted: The Folk and Their Art, Schenectady County Historical Society.

Center: A stoneware jug created by Calvin Boynton, Troy, NY (Albany Institute of Art and History)

Right: Portrait of  Ariantje Coeymans Verplank attributed to Nehemiah Partridge (Albany Insitute of Art and History)

Canceled Due to the Corona Virus

The Program by John Pipkin Washington Park - The Moral High Ground - April 15 has been canceled.