History Detectives

Part II: The History Behind The Pinkertonian Mystery

By Liz Stern

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Meet Kate Warne in The Pinkertonian Mystery, an interactive theater experience produced at the New-York Historical Society in conjunction with Live In Theater for families with kids ages eight and older. After receiving rave reviews, our first four shows have sold out. To keep up with demand we’ve added four new dates. Don’t miss out— buy your tickets here!

On April 14, 1865, 150 years ago this month, John Wilkes Booth shot President Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C. Lincoln died the following morning. He was the first American president ever assassinated, launching the nation into shock and mourning. However, this was not the first attempt on his life.

Four years earlier, a plot to assassinate President-elect Lincoln was thwarted, in part by the detective skills of Allan Pinkerton and his loyal agents. It’s called the Baltimore Plot, and it’s a great story! Let’s first learn about one of the detectives involved.

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In my last blog post about the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, I introduced you to Mr. Pinkerton and the fortuitous establishment of his business in 1850. During the first decade of the agency, Pinkerton built his business by solving counterfeiting crimes, as well as providing security for trains and other businesses. He also hired some really great detectives.

One of those detectives was Kate Warne. Today, Kate is recognized as being one of the most important detectives in the agency, training and managing an all-female investigative staff.

But when Kate walked into the Chicago offices of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency in 1856, female detectives were unheard of. In fact, Pinkerton may have believed she was applying for the job of secretary. Kate, instead, had seen the job listing for detective and was there to apply for that position.

Pinkerton, Allan, The Spy of the Rebellion, G.W. Carleton & Co., 1883, New-York Historical Society.

Pinkerton, Allan, The Spy of the Rebellion, G.W. Carleton & Co., 1883, New-York Historical Society.

Although we do not have any images of Kate Warne, Pinkerton described her as a “slender, brown-haired woman, graceful in her movements and self-possessed. Her features…were decidedly of an intellectual cast…her face was honest, which would cause one in distress instinctively to select her as a confidante.”

According to Pinkerton, this was one of the most important qualities for a good detective. He wrote that detectives must “know the criminal in his weakest moment and force from him, through sympathy and confidence, the secret which devours him.”

When Kate told him that she would be able to “worm out secrets in many places to which it was impossible for male detectives to gain access,” Pinkerton hired her.

Kate served a long illustrious career with her mentor Allan Pinkerton. Stay tuned later this week when we continue to discuss her role in the Baltimore Plot, which changed the course of history.

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Remembering Lincoln’s Death 150 Years Later

By Rachel Walman

Tuesday, April 14, 2015, marks the 150th anniversary of the fatal shooting of President Abraham Lincoln, who died at 7:22 am the next morning. If you’re looking to pay your respects to “Father Abraham,” come to the New-York Historical Society this Saturday, April 11. Gilder Lehrman will be offering a rare look at Lincoln-related ephemera here at New-York Historical in a program called Up Close and Personal with Treasures from the Gilder Lehrman Collection. DCHM will be offering a Lincoln and the Civil War-themed family scavenger hunt.  And while you’re here, don’t miss out on our ongoing exhibition, Lincoln and the Jews through June 7. Kids can always meet the immortalized Lincoln himself in bronze outside our Central Park West entrance.

Mourners wore ribbons like these to show their grief for their lost leader.  On April 14, 2014, the statue of Lincoln outside our museum will also be wearing this ribbon. INV.5478

Mourners wore ribbons like these to show their grief for their lost leader. On April 14, 2014, the statue of Lincoln outside our museum will also be wearing this ribbon. INV.5478

Most of us know the story of Lincoln’s assassination. Stage actor John Wilkes Booth fatally wounded Lincoln at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C., while he along with his wife Mary Todd, and friends Clara Harris and Henry Rahtbone watched the play Our American Cousin. The story ends with the capture and killing of both Booth and eight co-conspirators, two of whom also attacked Secretary of State William H. Seward on the same day. This reward poster for Booth and his compatriots was plastered across the country during the 12-day manhunt. It will be on display at Up Close and Personal this Saturday here at N-YHS.

While we often hear about how Lincoln’s death, we rarely hear about how he was mourned. It’s hard for us to comprehend what Lincoln’s assassination meant to the United States back in 1865. The day after his death, newspaper man James Gordon Bennett wrote an editorial in the New York Herald, declaring that it “has created a keener sorrow, a deeper, broader, more universal sense of the public loss, than, dare we say, has been experienced in any age, in any country, or by any people, over the death of one man.”

This profound sense of grief reverberated across the country in the weeks and months following April 15. Of course, some Confederates worried that by assassinating Lincoln, Booth had transformed Lincoln into a martyr, elevating his place in history. Yet, Myrta Lockhart Avery of Richmond, Virginia, captured a common southern sentiment when she wrote, “I heard some speak who thought it no more than just retribution upon Mr. Lincoln for the havoc he had wrought in our country. But even the few who spoke thus were horrified when details came…our reprobation of the crime…was none the less. Besides, we did not know what would happen to us.”

Dr. J.L. Burrows of the First Baptist Church in Richmond elaborated on the fear of northern retribution when he penned: “To hold a whole people responsible for an outrage which they not only disown, but deplore and abhor…cannot become a principle of action with fairminded and magnanimous men.” Southerners also feared the realities of Reconstruction under Lincoln’s successor, President Andrew Johnson.

African Americans had the most to fear from the loss of Lincoln. Frederick Douglass called his death “a great calamity” for people of African descent, who had hopes that the president’s second term and the conclusion of the war would result in increased civil rights.” Douglass mentioned in a speech that he saw a woman crying at the White House gates that her people had “lost our Moses.”

 

LEFT the public flocks to City Hall to view Lincoln’s body lying in state (photographer unknown, Lincoln’s Funeral, City Hall, New York City 1865, PR 065) RIGHT Lincoln’s casket was drawn through the streets to city hall on an ornate platform called a catafalque, pictured here (photographer unknown, Abraham Lincoln’s Catafalque, 1865, PR 065)

LEFT the public flocks to City Hall to view Lincoln’s body lying in state (photographer unknown, Lincoln’s Funeral, City Hall, New York City 1865, PR 065) RIGHT Lincoln’s casket was drawn through the streets to city hall on an ornate platform called a catafalque, pictured here (photographer unknown, Abraham Lincoln’s Catafalque, 1865, PR 065)

 

National mourning for Lincoln officially began on April 22 with his elaborate 1,662-mile funeral procession. Lincoln’s casket traveled the same path he took in life when campaigning for the presidency in 1860, visiting Philadelphia, New York, Cleveland, Chicago, and finally Springfield, Illinois, where he was buried. More than half a million people lined New York City streets to catch of glimpse of Lincoln’s casket on route to City Hall. And as many as 150,000 waited in line to view his casket over the course of the three days it remained there.

Unknown Broadside: [Lincoln assassination reward poster] s.l. 20 April 1865. Gilder Lehrman Collection, GLC04092

Unknown Broadside: [Lincoln assassination reward poster] s.l. 20 April 1865. Gilder Lehrman Collection, GLC04092

As you walk around your neighborhood in the days after April 14, imagine yourself doing the same 150 years ago. Imagine seeing black crepe, draped on buildings; flags with only 34 stars, also covered in bunting, stuck in windows or on lawns; and words of grief like these posted in front of one New York City home:

The tear that we shed,

Though in secret it rolls,

Shall long keep his memory

Green in our souls.

 

We hope you come remember Lincoln this weekend with us.

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Camp History: Colonial New York

By Shana Fung

This spring, Camp History campers at the New-York Historical Society explored the fascinating world of colonial New York by becoming historians and curating their very own pop-up exhibition! Campers had the once-in-a-lifetime experience of getting up close and personal with centuries-old artifacts from the Patricia D. Klingenstein Library and the opportunity to consult with reference librarians, research fellows, conservators, and curators while conducting their own in-depth research. They also had a ton a fun along the way. Check out some behind-the-scenes photos from Camp History below!

And don’t miss out on our upcoming session of Camp History! Between August 17 and 21, campers will learn about life in New York at the turn of the 20th century. Click here to sign up!

During the week, campers were given access to Museum spaces the public never gets to see…

During the week, campers were given access to Museum spaces the public never gets to see

 

They worked in a conservation lab…

They worked in a conservation lab.

 

They carefully handled rare documents.

They carefully handled rare documents.

 

They crushed blueberries to make berry ink.

They crushed blueberries to make berry ink.

 

They tried their hand at quill writing

They tried their hand at quill writing.

 

They met with a curator to see objects that are not on view.

They met with a curator to see objects that are not on view.

 

They did some serious work.

 

They made (and ate!) ice cream from a colonial recipe.

They made (and ate!) ice cream from a colonial recipe.

 

And they got silly with new friends!

And they got silly with new friends!

 

 

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Blast from the Past: Lincoln and the Jews

By Liz Stern

In Jerusalem, there is a beautiful street near the King David Hotel named for Abraham Lincoln. There is a similar one in Tel Aviv and a memorial statue of Lincoln in Ramat Gan. Why is there devotion in Israel to the 16th President of the United States?

Abraham Lincoln was a man with complicated religious beliefs. He did not grow up attending church and was even said to be critical of religious teachings. But as he matured and moved into a more public realm, Lincoln increasingly expressed himself using Biblical references. The deaths of his two sons and the painful reality of the Civil War further drove him to look to religion for solace and answers.

President Lincoln also respected the religious beliefs of others, most strikingly of the Jewish people. On March 20 the exhibition Lincoln and the Jews opens at the New-York Historical Society, taking an in-depth look at his relationship to and interactions with American Jews.

Photograph of Lincoln by Samuel Alschuler wearing Alschuler's velvet trimmed coat for this photo. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Photograph of Lincoln by Samuel Alschuler wearing Alschuler’s velvet
trimmed coat for this photo. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Visit the exhibition and meet Abraham Jonas, one of Abraham Lincoln’s early presidential bid supporters. This exhibition will include a letter from Jonas warning Lincoln of an assassination attempt before his first inauguration. More on this story in a future post when I delve further into the Pinkerton National Detective Agency!

Abraham Jonas to Abraham Lincoln, December 30, 1860. Courtesy of the Library of Congress. Abraham Jonas had sons living in the South, from whom he learned rumors of a plot to kill Lincoln. The warnings did not go unheeded: Lincoln was smuggled into Washington, arriving safely in the dead of night ten days before the inauguration.

Abraham Jonas to Abraham Lincoln, December 30, 1860. Courtesy of the Library of Congress. Abraham Jonas had sons living in the South, from whom he learned rumors of a plot to kill Lincoln. The warnings did not go unheeded: Lincoln was smuggled into Washington, arriving safely in the dead of night ten days before the inauguration.

In Lincoln and the Jews, you’ll also meet the interesting character Isachar Zacharie, an English-born chiropodist who healed Lincoln’s feet but also traveled behind enemy lines to seek peace with the Confederacy. He became Lincoln’s closest friend.

Carte-de-visite of Issachar Zacharie. The Shapell Manuscript Collection

Carte-de-visite of Issachar Zacharie. The Shapell Manuscript Collection

The president is credited with changing the law that required all military chaplains to be “regularly ordained ministers of some denomination,” removing the word “Christian” from the decree. Lincoln appointed Rabbi Jacob Frankel of Philadelphia as the nation’s first Jewish American Military Chaplain.

Possibly Abraham Lincoln’s most tangible legacy in American Jewish anti-discriminatory history is when he overruled General Ulysses S. Grant. On December 17, 1862, General Grant issued an order expelling all Jews from his territory, which covered the area between northern Mississippi to southern Illinois. It was called General Order No. 11 and it remains the only explicitly anti-Semitic official action of the U.S. government. Lincoln ordered its reversal two and a half weeks later saying he did not “like a class or nationality condemned on account of a few sinners.” The original document by Grant will be on view in Lincoln and the Jews.

As we mark the 150th anniversary of the assassination of President Lincoln, it is fitting to look at his legacy with regard to Jewish Americans. He died, after all, in the middle of Passover, a time when Jews revisit the story of the Exodus from Egypt in search of freedom. At the end of the traditional Seder the words “next year in Jerusalem” are recited by all who celebrate.

“There is no place I so much desire to see as Jerusalem,” said President Lincoln to his wife Mary in the balcony of Ford’s Theater on April 14, 1865. These would be the last words he uttered, according to a family pastor who sat with Mary later. Perhaps he was inspired by Secretary of State Seward’s 1859 trip to Jerusalem? Perhaps the end of the Civil War was driving his interest in exploration? Lincoln was talking to his wife about their future—but he would never visit Jerusalem. Lincoln was shot in that balcony. In the wake of Lincoln’s death, synagogues across the country draped their altars in black and chanted prayers of mourning.

Moses did not reach Israel either.

Sources:

Holzer, Harold, Lincoln and the Jews, essay reprinted on Jewish Life in Mr. Lincoln’s City, jhsgw.org.

Mansfield, Stephen, “Lincoln’s Surprising Last Words: Excerpt from Lincoln’s Battle with God,” December 10, 2012, www.thenervousbreakdown.com.

 

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Reading into History: An Interview with Author of One Crazy Summer, Rita Williams-Garcia

By Rachel Walman

How did the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s affect Americans in different parts of the country? That’s the question we’ll tackle this Sunday, March 8 from 2–4pm during our Reading into History family book club meeting.

Photo courtesy of the author

Photo courtesy of the author

Join us here at the New-York Historical Society with author Rita Williams-Garcia to discuss her book, One Crazy Summer, the Reading into History family book club pick of the month. This decorated children’s book follows three sisters on a funny, poignant, and historical journey to visit their estranged mother in Oakland, California, in 1968. After discussion, we’ll all visit the exhibition Freedom Journey 1965: Photographs of the Selma to Montgomery March by Stephen SomersteinThrough the book and the exhibition, we’ll compare and contrast Selma and Oakland, Dr. Martin Luther King and the Black Panthers, civil disobedience and armed action.

We’re exploring different aspects of the struggle for African Americans’ civil rights at a crucial moment. This month marks the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery marches—  historic, non-violent protests against policies and practices that kept African Americans from voting. The first day of the march, March 7, 1965, was later dubbed “Bloody Sunday” for the tragic turn it took. As 600 marchers approached  the Edmund Pettus Bridge, just six blocks from their starting point, all-white local and state police forces brutally attacked them with nightsticks and tear gas. After another symbolic march to the bridge two days later, President Lyndon B. Johnson sent in federal troops for protection, allowing the now 3,200 marchers to recommence their five-day, 54-mile journey on March 21, 1965. We’ll get to see images from the final day of the historic march currently on view.

LEFT marchers making their way from Selma to Montgomery, 1965. Photograph by Stephen Somerstein.  RIGHT Black Panthers at the Free Huey rally in Oakland, CA, August 25, 1968. Photo taken by Ruth-Marion Baruch and Pirkle Jones for their photo essay “The Vanguard,” a copy of which is held in the N-YHS collection.

LEFT marchers making their way from Selma to Montgomery, 1965. Photograph by Stephen Somerstein. RIGHT Black Panthers at the Free Huey rally in Oakland, CA, August 25, 1968. Photo taken by Ruth-Marion Baruch and Pirkle Jones for their photo essay “The Vanguard,” a copy of which is held in the N-YHS collection.

Before heading to the gallery, we’ll discuss the approach the Black Panther Party took to fighting for racial equality. The Black Panther Party’s principles conflicted with the non-violent, civil disobedience-focused activism of Martin Luther King, Jr., who was a leader of  Selma protest. They were a major force in California and across the U.S., were influenced by Socialism, and believed in armed self-defense. They garnered support by establishing community programs in cities across the country, including free breakfasts for youths in need, and also garnered a lot of criticism and sometimes violent resistance. If you know more, or want to, come share your thoughts at Sunday’s meeting!

We asked Rita Williams-Garcia to share her thoughts on her life and her book before we all get together. Read her wonderful words and join us for Sunday’s event.

What made you want to write One Crazy Summer?

I wrote One Crazy Summer because I wanted to share the times I lived through with my readers.  I didn’t attend a Black Panther summer program, but I did get a sickle cell anemia testing, courtesy of the Black Panthers and had a free breakfast or two as well. The Black Panthers were militant, but who would have thought they also served children in their communities? I found that interesting and wanted to share that through three characters I hoped would be memorable to readers.

 What were you like between the ages of 9 and 12?

I was part nerd, tomboy, and daydreamer.  I was that kid who couldn’t keep her hand down when the teacher asked a question.  I grew up on army bases and their surrounding towns where the great outdoors was a big part of an army brat’s life.  There was always dodge ball, baseball, kickball, tetherball, relay races, and so many other physical activities.  I played my heart out, and when I got tired I went off to daydream. I kept a diary and still have my very first lock and key diary. I was always reading and writing.

What is your favorite time period in American history? Why?

There was nothing like the 1960s! I knew I’d write about that period because I grew up during that time and remember so many historical events. It was a time of constant change.  I was in the first grade when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. I remember the Gemini space missions. Shortly after he returned from Vietnam, my father took us to Monterey Airport to hear Senator Robert F. Kennedy when he was campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination. I remember seeing the Black Panthers take center stage with their strong, militant talk. My mother even claimed to have been a Black Panther, although that wasn’t true! She was a Joan Baez loving hippie! The music of the 1960s is still good today.

What 3 words best describe One Crazy Summer?

Sisters, Mother, Power!

The Reading into History family book club is supported by a grant from the New York Council for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this blog post and/or in Reading into History programs do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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Learn the Chinese Art of Fan Dancing

By Shana Fung

As part of our ongoing exhibition Chinese American: Exclusion/Inclusion, we invite families to come learn a unique traditional Chinese art form: fan dancing. Through our learning series Ancient Chinese Arts Today, an expert here at the New-York Historical Society will teach the centuries-old dance style on March 15. Click here to learn more and sign up! 

In the meantime, check out some photos from our first two classes in the series: ribbon dancing and martial arts!

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新年快樂! Happy Chinese Lunar New Year!

By Shana Fung

To celebrate Chinese Lunar New Year, we’ll be hosting a variety of events—from paper cutting demonstrations, to martial  arts and dance performances. Join us Thursday (the official start of the Lunar New Year) to see students of the National Dance Institute perform both traditional and modern dances inspired by their 2013—2014 curricular theme, “China!” While you’re here, don’t miss our on-going exhibition Chinese American: Exclusion/Inclusion,which explores the centuries-long history of trade and immigration between China and the United States and raises the question: “What does it mean to be an American?”

Here’s a recap of Monday’s exciting performances showcasing traditional Chinese dances!

 

dancing in DCHM

A New Year parade through DCHM

 

Lion Dancers from the Chinatown Community Young Lions dancing through the galleries

Lion Dancers from the Chinatown Community Young Lions parading through the galleries

 

A young visitor chasing away evil spirits and bad luck

A young visitor chasing away evil spirits and bad luck

 

Handkerchief Dance (performed by professional dancers from the NYCCC)

Professional dancers from New York Chinese Cultural Center (NYCCC) performing a handkerchief dance

 

Student dancers from NYCCC perform a Tibetan folk dance

Student dancers from NYCCC performing a Tibetan folk dance

 

NYCCC Students perform a double fan dance

NYCCC Students performing a double fan dance

 

NYCCC professional dancers performing a ribbon dance (performed by professional dancers from the NYCCC)

NYCCC professional dancers performing a ribbon dance

 

 

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Part I: The History Behind The Pinkertonian Mystery

By Liz Stern

Do you love solving mysteries? Join us here on February 15 at 3 pm, for the interactive theatrical experience: The Pinkertonian Mystery. Families travel throughout the Museum, engaging with actors to solve a whodunit inspired by the Pinkerton National Detective Agency. This immersive theater experience was created and produced exclusively for our audience, so don’t miss out! Tickets are limited and can be purchased here for February 15, March 8, April 12, and April 26 performances.

Rule number one: “accept no bribes.” Rule number two: “Never compromise with criminals.” These are just two commandments of the famous Pinkerton Code that set the Pinkerton Detective Agency apart. However, the agency’s founders—brothers Allan and Robert—weren’t destine for a life of fighting crime.

The place: Chicago. The date: 1842. Allan Pinkerton, a Scottish immigrant, first arrived in the United States. Allan worked in a local factory as a cooper (a barrel-maker), but soon opened a workshop of his own outside of the Windy City. His brother, Robert, also left Scotland to find success in the U.S. as a railroad man.

Portrait of Allan Pinkerton from The Spy of the Rebellion, New-York Historical Society

Portrait of Allan Pinkerton from The Spy of the Rebellion, New-York Historical Society

Allan got his first taste of detective work while on a routine search for lumber for his booming barrel-making business. He stumbled upon what he suspected to be a gang’s hideout. After alerting authorities, Allan returned to the criminals’ lair along with the local sheriff. Together, they captured the bandits, and Allan was immediately hooked. His knack for bringing crooks to justice landed him the job of County Deputy Sheriff. And, in 1850, he became Chicago’s first Police Detective—his barrel company was history.

He and Robert joined forces the next year, establishing the Pinkerton National Detective Agency in Chicago. As the urban populations boomed, so did crime. Intricate and organized networks of criminals required professional police work. And the Pinkerton Detective Agency was just that. In its early years, the agency mostly provided security for railroad passengers, solving track-side stick-ups and uncovering counterfeiting operations. The Pinkertons commanded respect—striking fear into the hearts of outlaws. Soon, the agency expanded its services so that both businesses and government offices turned to the brothers for their crime-solving needs. At its peak, the agency would become the world’s largest private law enforcement organization and still remains today.

unnamedPinkerton’s National Detective Agency letterhead, from The Spy of the Rebellion, The New-York Historical Society

As historians, we are lucky. Allen Pinkerton was a prolific writer and recorded every detail of his company’s investigations in volumes of journals. He published books of his cases, sometimes embellishing them so that they read like detective stories. At the New-York Historical Society, we have a rich collection of Pinkerton’s accounts in our own library. So come watch the Pinkertons back in action during our live theatrical performance!

And be sure to check out our next installment of Pinkerton history when the brothers discover a plot to assassinate Abraham Lincoln!

 

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Helios

By Neysela DaSilva-Reed

As we move into 2015 we have two big aims for our Little New-Yorkers program. First, we want to get them upstairs into the galleries more often. Second, we are going to use the objects in our collections to make connections beyond New York.

This program is all about exploring this amazing city, but I also believe that this includes all the influences that come from abroad. This is at the very heart of what it is to be a New Yorker.

New York is known as a cultural melting pot, and we should be learning via New York and not just about New York. Whether exploring historic immigration to New York with stories such as Laundry Day by Maurie J. Manning, or modern-day diversity within the city with stories such as Abulela by Arthur Dorros.

Our first international adventure came courtesy of the artist Edwin Lord Weeks who took us to the shores of India. Next week we turn to Annie Leibovitz, who will take us to the mythological days of ancient Greece.

In the new exhibition Pilgrimage, the Leibovitz shows a very different body of work from the her usual association as photographer to the stars. This series of photographs charts the artist’s natural curiosity. They were taken simply because she found the subject matter to be interesting. They show dramatic landscapes, living interiors, and other miscellaneous objects, which seemingly present quite the challenge for our Little New Yorkers program.

 

© ANNIE LEIBOVITZ. FROM “PILGRIMAGE” (RANDOM HOUSE, 2011) Image courtesy of bostonglobe.com

© ANNIE LEIBOVITZ. FROM “PILGRIMAGE” (RANDOM HOUSE, 2011) Image courtesy of bostonglobe.com

One of the interiors is a photograph of the childhood bedroom of Louisa May Alcott at Orchard House. Alcott was quite the artist and took to sketching on the walls in her bedroom. One of these illustrations shows a series of robed people beside a man in a chariot led by galloping horses. They are all led by a beautiful, young maiden. The drawing in this photograph is of the sun god Helios being lead by his sister the goddess of dawn, Aurora.

Join us next week (on Tuesday or Friday at 3:30 pm) to find out about Helios’s role, why the sun scorched the earth and how the sun rises and sets every day. For our craft project we’ll be making our own fiery golden chariots. Please drop by!

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At the Kids Table: Food, Art, and Molecular Gastronomy

By Rachel Walman

law sakes alive.JPG

Charles Cole Markham , Law Sakes Alive! What Are You Doing, Baby, ca. 1872, Collection of the New-York Historical Society, 1985.22

This past Saturday, a group of families gathered in the DiMenna Children’s History Museum to explore the intersection of food and art from the nineteenth century to today. We discussed the market scene painting above, did a multi-sensory experiment from the 1932 Futurist Cookbook, and experimented with artistic plating and molecular gastronomy.

Molecular gastronomy is a new movement in food that embraces the science behind cooking. All cooking involves science: for example, water must reach a certain temperature to boil, and chemical reactions take place when food is heated.  Molecular gastronomists celebrate the science behind food, finding new ways to cook that seem more like lab experiments than recipes. We tried two molecular gastronomy techniques: gelification and spherification.

First, we turned carrot puree into “caviar” by mixing the puree with sodium alginate and then plunging drops of the mixture into a water bath mixed with calcium chloride. After a minute, the surface of the drops became gelified and the inside was still liquid. This is spherification.

Gelification is when you make something completely transform into a gel. We did that by heating a mix of bananas and blueberries with agar agar. After the mix boiled, we sucked it into a plastic tube with a syringe, then plunged the tube into a cold water bath to let it set. After three minutes, we pushed the mix out of the tube and voilá- noodles!

The final step was for families to make artistic presentations of their caviar and spaghetti. Boy did they rise to the challenge! Check out their beautiful creations below.atktfoodart1

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atktfoodart3

atktfoodart4

 

Would you like to join us for another culinary adventure through history? Check out our March 21 program on Chinese American food and purchase tickets here. We look forward to seeing you then!

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