Manhasset Public Library Presents “Revisiting the Founding Era” History Event Series on Saturdays

Who sent the first Valentine's Day card? Learn that and more at the MPL history Saturdays series.

How did Anna Strong’s red petticoats help us win the Revolution? What does “Sleep tight” mean? Who was the first American to be hanged for spying? Who sent the very first Valentine’s Day card? What did Long Island slave owners have to prove before they could free their own slaves?

Manhasset Public Library’s (MPL) multi-part series, “Revisiting the Founding Era: Revolutionary Saturdays,” answers all these questions and more. Organized by the History Center at the MPL, the series brings together local historians and scholars, and fascinating stories. Along with many unusual artifacts on display in the library’s foyer, curated by Antonia Mattheou, archivist for the MPL’s History Center, the series focuses on giving voice to the unvoiced, those whose stories are only now beginning to be told.

“Standing Where They Stood: Learning About Slavery on Long Island, c. 1749-1813” (February 22, 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.) brings historian Claire Bellerjeau, of the Raynham Hall Museum (Oyster Bay) to discuss highlights of her research. Bellerjeau didn’t just discover the very first Valentine’s Day card (1779) and the first mention of Thanksgiving in New York (1759); but also a poem by Jupiter Hammond, the first black writer to be published in America, published despite his being enslaved; and the “Slave Bible” that led her to identify and then unearth dramatic biographies for slaves living in Oyster Bay and Long Island. (The 1790 census shows 15% of New York’s population were enslaved.)

On February 29 (2:00 to 4:00 p.m.), the library presents “Long Island Women During the Revolutionary War” with historian Dr. Joanne Grasso, who has published extensively on 18th-century Long Island. The History Center archives have helped inform her research, as it takes pride in building its archives on these and other topics for the benefit of local, national and international researchers.

On March 7 (1:00 to 3:00 p.m.), the library presents “Thomas Paine: Launching a Revolution” with historians Dr. Nora Slonimsky and Dr. Michael Crowder, both of the Institute for Thomas Paine Studies at Iona College. Additional events may be added to this series.

Held on January 11, “Washington’s LI Spies,” included Margo Aceri, Strong Neck historian and founder of Tri-Spy Tours, who explained how the Culper Spy ring fed George Washington strategic information about British plans. It also featured a short talk by former NY Assemblyman and current Town Clerk Andrew Raia who brought a treasured 28”-inch statue of Nathan Hale (“I regret that I have only one life to give for my country”), owned by the Town of Huntington. It is a model of the 13-foot bronze statue facing NYC’s City Hall, and is one of three existing “desktop statues,” the others held by the Metropolitan Museum and Brooklyn Museum of Art.

The series, made possible by grants from the Gilder Lehrman Institute, the American Library Association, the National Constitution Center, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, was conceived by the Library Director, Maggie Gough. Director Gough created the History Center in 2015 with a grant from NYS Senator Jack Martins, to “collect, preserve, and provide access” to historical records of “Manhasset since the area was first settled on December 13, 1643.”

Revisiting the Founding Era: Revolutionary Saturdays
Upcoming at the Manhasset Library

Sat., Feb 22 — 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.
“Standing Where They Stood: Learning About Slavery on Long Island, c. 1749-1813”
Claire Bellerjeau of the Raynham Hall Museum (Oyster Bay). Suitable for grade 5 to adult

Sat., Feb 29 — 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.
“Long Island Women During the Revolutionary War”
Dr. Joanne Grasso. Suitable for grade 5 to adult.

Sat., Mar 7 — 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.
“Thomas Paine: Launching a Revolution”
Dr. Nora Slonimsky and Dr. Michael Crowder. Suitable for grade 9 to adult.

More info at

Submitted by the Manhasset Public Library

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The Island Now

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