Friday, May 6, 2022

The Belanger School of Nursing

This post was written by library volunteer Gail Denisoff.

As Nurses Week approaches, we have the opportunity to acknowledge the nurses in our lives and thank those who work tirelessly each day. If we didn't already know how hard nurses work, these past two years have made it crystal clear. Our nurses have put their own well-being at risk as they took their place on the front line of the Covid19 pandemic - caring for the sick, acting as a lifeline between patients and their families, and all too often, offering the hand a patient holds as they take their last breath.

Schenectady has a long history of dedicated nurses working in the many hospital and medical facilities in the city. Many of these nurses were trained right here in the city at the Belanger School of Nursing, formally the Ellis Hospital School of Nursing.

Nurses at Jay Street Hospital, circa 1898. Grems-Doolittle Library Photograph Collection.
 

In 1903, Ella Underhill, a supervising nurse at the Jay Street Hospital, began teaching five young women the basics of nursing. The new Ellis Hospital building on Rosa Road was completed by 1906, and included the Whitmore Home for Nurses. Gifted by J.W. Smitley, president of the Hospital Association, the Whitmore Home was a separate building in a similar style to the hospital. It housed nursing students along with some staff nurses. The school was incorporated in 1906 as the Schenectady Hospital Association’s Training School for Nurses and graduated its first two students, Lenita Mallery and Edith Jeannin Stanton.

The Schenectady Hospital Association’s Training School for Nurses was one of the first nursing schools in the state to receive a permanent charter in 1917. At first, the three-year program consisted mainly of learning on the job and providing needed nursing care to patients. The head nurses in various departments provided instruction to students.  Eventually a curriculum evolved and classes were held one day a week. By the early 1920s, a nurse was hired to serve as the dedicated faculty of the school teaching all the pre-clinical courses, planning student assignments, and supervising student work in the hospital.  By the 1930s, the curriculum had become a defined course of study and more faculty were hired, shifting the focus of the school from student service in the hospital to student education.  Classes increased in size and Whitmore Home became solely a dormitory for students with classrooms in the basement. Later, an annex was added to the rear of the building, increasing the number of offices, classrooms, and dormitory space. 

Student nurses in class, circa 1920. Grems-Doolittle Library Photo Collection.
  

In the 1950s, students took courses at Union College for anatomy, chemistry, and psychology. In 1958, the nursing school's charter was relinquished when the governance was transferred to the Ellis Hospital Board of Trustees. At that time the name was officially changed to The Ellis Hospital School of Nursing, although it had been called that colloquially for years.

In 1974, the Whitmore Home was torn down and students moved to rooms on the fourth floor of the YMCA on State Street along with their residence director Mrs. Mildred Hotaling. Classes were taught at Sunnyview Hospital. By 1976, students were no longer housed at the Y and began commuting from home or living together in apartments. Classes were now held in the basement of Oneida Middle School. By 1992, the school moved to the former Big N Plaza on the corner of Nott Street and Maxon Road, followed by a move to the Belanger Campus on Erie Boulevard in 2004.

The closure of the student nurses' residence put an end to some fun times that students enjoyed.  Nancy Wasmund of the class of 1969 remembers living at Whitmore Home with Nellie Leba as house mother. Students fraternized with Union College students who were just down the street, and some met future husbands. The annual Junior-Senior Variety show directed and choreographed by Dr. Clowe and Dr. Sullivan was a highlight of the year and an enjoyable experience for all involved. At that time there were no male or married students allowed. All classes were held at Ellis except for a psychiatric rotation at Marcy State Hospital where they worked with students from other nursing schools.     

Ann Marie Czaikowski, class of 1974, was a member of the last class to live in Whitmore Home for her first and second year before it closed. She remembers living with two to four girls in a room and developing a close camaraderie with her classmates because of living and learning together.  

Postcard featuring the Whitmore Home. Image from the Laura Brown Slide Collection, Grems-Doolittle Library.

Dr. Lisa Bagdan, RN PhD, class of 1986 and currently an instructor at the Belanger School of Nursing, took her classes at Oneida Middle School. She remembers having an “amazing clinical experience. It’s something the nursing school excelled in and still does.”


In 1986, the curriculum was shortened from the 3-year program to 21 months. A partnership with Schenectady County Community College enabled students to graduate with an Associate in Science degree in Nursing beginning in 1994.

In 2013 the school moved to its permanent location on McClellan Street on the former St. Clare’s campus and the name was changed to The Belanger School of Nursing thanks to a generous bequest to the school by the Belanger Family.

Over the years, the demographic of the school has changed: students are older, male students are common, many students are married with children, and students come from many different cultures and countries. One thing has stayed the same, however; the reputation of the Belanger School of Nursing remains strong. The school has a long history of excellence and its graduates have scored consistently high on statewide board licensing exams.

In 2019, the New York State Education Department approved a dual degree program in collaboration with Siena College. The first class began in the fall of 2017 and graduated with a BS in Nursing in 2021. Currently half of the nursing school enrollment are part of the Siena collaboration and the other half are in the traditional Associates of Science in Nursing program. 

Dr. Michele Hewitt, BS DNP, current Director of the nursing school, sees a bright future ahead. “Our future will always be to serve our community and to serve Ellis Medicine. Our goal is to increase enrollment and for the student body to reflect the diversity of the community in gender, race, socio-economic status, marital status, first generation students, and age.” The success of the nursing school is evident. Every year 100% of Belanger graduates are offered jobs. Dr. Hewitt adds, “Ellis Hospital offers all our graduates a job and aspires to hire at least 75% of the Belanger graduates. We hope they’ll stay.”

Front page of the Elliscope newsletter, highlighting the nursing graduates of 1969. Courtesy of Nancy Wasmund.

References:

Hart, Larry, The Hospital on the Hill, Chapter 25, The Nursing School, pp.158-164.

History of The Belanger School of Nursing, School of Nursing, Ellis Medicine website.

Nelson, Paul, “Belanger School of Nursing Opens”, Times Union, Aug. 20, 2013.

Wilkins, Jeff, “Years of Caring: Ellis School of Nursing to mark century of growth and progress”, Daily Gazette, May 3, 2003.

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Memories of Black Schenectady - African American Historical Records Project Kick-off Event

The Schenectady African American Historical Records Project is proud to host "Memories of Black Schenectady," a celebration for Black History Month and the kick-off event for the survey phase of our project. 

 

This virtual event will be held on Thursday, 2/24/2022, at 7pm at facebook.com/schenectadyhistorical. You do not need a Facebook account to watch live.

 

Join us for a conversation with Miki Conn, Walter Simpkins, and Adonis Richards about their lives and memories as Black Schenectadians. This event is part of the Schenectady African American Historical Records Project, a public history project focused on preserving the heritage and historical records of African Americans in Schenectady. We’re launching a community survey which will ask a range of questions that we hope will help expand the community’s knowledge of the history of Black people in Schenectady and illuminate the historical records preserved within the community. We invite you to attend our virtual conversation and learn more about the project, survey, and community memories. Your participation will be an important part of developing the history, legacy and memory of the Black community in Schenectady.

 

For questions and more information, contact Marietta Carr, librarian/archivist at Schenectady County Historical Society, at librarian@schenectadyhistorical.org or 518-374-0263 x3.

 

Learn more about the African American Historical Records Project: http://gremsdoolittlelibrary.blogspot.com/2021/02/african-american-historical-records.html

Bartlett Jackson. Grems-Doolittle Library Photo Collection

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Organizing Family Papers and Photos

For many people, January and February are the months they spend the most time at home. The cold and snowy weather discourages them from venturing outside, or they feel like they need time to decompress from the excitement and stress of the winter holidays. With the recent increase in COVID cases, many people find comfort and safety in just staying home. If you're spending more time at home these days, this might be a good time to focus on organizing your family papers and photos. Like genealogy research, organizing your family papers will help you connect to your personal and local history, build relationships with your relatives and friends, and strengthen your memories. Here are some tips and resources to help you organize your family's papers and photo collections:

 Basic rules for organizing family archives:

  • Do what you can at your own pace. It's better to go slowly and give yourself time, especially if you're working with materials that bring up a lot of emotions or memories.
  • Don't be overwhelmed by the idea of doing it 'exactly right.'
  • Practice safe handling and incorporate good preservation practices into your process.
  • Label as much as you can, especially on the outside of enclosures (e.g. folders and boxes). Try to answer the five W questions (who, what, where, when, and why). Putting this information on a label will make it easier to organize your collection and reduce the amount of handling you'll need to do in the future.

Practice good personal records management for the paper you are creating or collecting today:

The day-to-day business of living generates a lot of paper: receipts, pamphlets, bills, napkins, free mailing labels, shopping lists, and scraps of reminders (just to name a few). Some of these things need to be saved for a specific period of time (e.g. tax returns) and some of these things should be saved indefinitely (e.g. wills and birth certificates). Most of the paper you create and collect should be discarded, but when you're busy and focused on living your life, it's easy to let it all accumulate and mix together. One of the best things you can do for yourself and the future generations who might inherit your papers is to set aside some time regularly (e.g. every month) to sort your papers, discard what is ready to be discarded, and file what needs to be saved. Labeling and filing what you need or want to keep will make it easier to figure out what should be kept indefinitely or passed on to future generations.

Figure out what's important to keep:

There's lots of information online about what people should keep and for how long, but a lot of this advice focuses on the practical or current use of personal papers. Tax returns, for example, should be saved for several years in case you are audited or you need to amend a past return. Receipts should be saved so you can reconcile your financial statements, return items, or make claims against a warranty. However, when thinking about your papers from a historical perspective, the value or reason for keeping something may change and no longer fit the original or practical purpose. Not everything is meant to be kept indefinitely, and the reasons for keeping something may be unique to you and your family!

What to save indefinitely as part of your family archives varies from person to person and family to family, but there are a few ways to help you determine what's best for your collection. First, ask yourself:

  • How much space do I have to store the collection properly? 
  • How much money do I have to invest in archival storage boxes or folders? 
  • How much time do I have to spend organizing and labeling the collection? 
  • How much energy do I have to spend organizing and labeling the collection?
  • Who is going to help organize or take care of this collection? 
  • What will happen to the collection when I can no longer care for it?
  • What resources do I have to save the content of something if the condition is deteriorating quickly? For example, newspapers deteriorate quickly and can harm the papers stored with them. Photocopying or scanning can help you save the information in a newspaper article or obituary and allow you to discard the damaged original.

The answers to these questions will help you determine how large your collection can be and which materials you should prioritize. It's alright if you can't keep something! 

There are some types of papers that are almost universally considered important enough to keep indefinitely, even if their practical purpose no longer exists:

  • Vital records: birth, adoption, death, marriage, and divorce certificates/records
  • Photos and home videos or recordings
  • Heirlooms and the documents that explain where they came from and how you inherited them
  • Land and building records: deeds, architectural drawings
  • Letters and diaries
  • Military records: enlistment cards, discharge papers, service awards

For other types of papers, consider these questions when trying to figure out whether to keep them indefinitely:

  • What does this document tell me about the person who created it? Does it help to make the person more real or relatable?
  • What does this document tell me about the time period it was created in? Is it an example of how everyday people experienced a significant historical event?
  • Is the information in this document unique or can I find it in some other part of the collection?
  • How does this document relate to other materials in the collection? Does it provide information that will make other documents easier to understand?
  • Is this something I care strongly about or that other people care strongly about? Ask your relatives and friends!
  • Is the item in good condition? Does it require special handling or preservation? Can the information be saved in another format that's easier to care for?

Keep like with like:

  • Find natural groups -- by type (e.g. all of the photos together), by topic (e.g. all of the family vacation photos and documents), by creator (e.g. all the letters/diaries/documents created by your grandmother), by date (e.g. everything created in 1995 together).
  • Keep existing groups together when possible -- e.g. one of your ancestors may have already organized a portion of the collection (e.g. a scrapbook). Their work may help you with figuring out how to organize new additions or give you insight into what they knew about the family history and how they thought about what to keep.
  • There will be groups within groups -- e.g. the folders for family vacations may include a folder or two just for photos.
  • Organize with preservation in mind -- some materials are more sensitive, deteriorate more quickly, or require special handling. You may want to organize these into their own boxes or folders, even if they connect with another group, so that they can be handled more carefully.
  • Ultimately, there is no 'exactly right' way to organize your collection -- some materials will fit into multiple categories. Do what makes sense to you and fits within your capabilities.
  • Don't forget about your digital files! You can organize these using similar systems or criteria you use for analog materials.

Further reading:

Preservation Resources for Paper and Photo Collections

Resources for Preserving Digital Family Archives

How to Organize Your Family Keepsakes and Collections by Denise May Levenick

Organize Old Family Photos with the Parking Lot System by Denise May Levenick

When to Keep and When to Throw Away Important Documents by Elizabeth Larkin

How Long to Keep Tax Records and Other Documents by Consumer Reports



Thursday, September 9, 2021

A Polish Genealogy Resource Like None Other!

This post was written by SCHS Executive Director Mary Zawacki. It focuses on a database of Polish parish records created by the Jaminy Indexing Team. The database search engine is available at https://jzi.org.pl/geneo/.

Despite my surname, which bears the Polish hallmark of unpronouncibility, I've never had a connection to my Polish heritage. This is probably common for third and fourth generation Americans, who have increasingly mixed ancestry, grew up on red milk cartons from the school cafeteria, and can recite at any moment the profound truth of George Washington's cherry tree incident.

Even my father, who had two Polish immigrants as grandparents, didn't have much to say on the matter: "I remember an old lady who couldn't speak English. I believe she had an arranged marriage." Other relatives indicated that the ancestors had come over from Warsaw (no) or were secretly Jewish escapees from the Pogroms (also no). So much for family history!

I visited Poland twice as a young twenty-something and enjoyed my time there immensely, but left both times unconvinced about 'getting in touch' with those elusive Polish roots. The language, I thought, is complicated. Plus the borders of Poland were ever-shifting. Sometimes it was an autonomous state, other times not. Beyond Googling the house of a few great-grandparents in Easthampton, Massachusetts, I thought, what was the point? Even Ancestry.com couldn't help beyond confirming that Frank Zawadzki (born 1883) worked in a rubber plant. How industrial of him! I bet the plant is luxury condos now.

Earlier this year, however, during quarantine, a series of events occurred. First, I discovered a marriage record of these Polish great-grandparents which listed their parents' names. Ah, more information! Second, I employed my excellent internet creeping skills to locate the family's immigration records which enabled me to trace ol' Frank Zawadzki and his wife, Stephania Jurewicz, to a very, very small village near Lithuania. Bingo! An email here, an email there, and an email everywhere related to the village in question, and thus I was introduced to the wonderful, incredible world of https://jzi.org.pl/ or the Jaminy Indexing Team (JZI). 

Members of the Jaminy Indexing Team, 2019. Photo from the 8th Meeting of the JZI Photo Gallery.

JZI is a group of dedicated volunteer researchers who have digitized church records from just about every parish throughout northeast Poland. That includes, of course, the Jaminy parish as well as 41 others. The Jaminy Indexing Team eloquently states their mission on the website, and I believe their mission perfectly parallels much of the work we do at SCHS. On the JZI website, they state:

"Who we are? Where did we come from? Where are we heading? These questions and slogans illustrate the essence of things and the reason for our actions. We try to convert and recall once written words into specific actions. Save the past generations from oblivion...the words read and written take the form of specific people, hidden behind dates and letters of the name. People who once lived in these lands among the same roads, rivers, and forests. In this way, we realize the well-known sentence '...the word become flesh.'"

For JZI, and for SCHS, it's a question of translating the deeds and documents of people long dead into flesh; making history come alive.

A map of the parishes documented by JZI.
 

If your ancestors happen to hail from this region of Poland, the JZI database is the holy grail of genealogy. By utilizing their well-developed search engine, I've been able to trace my family's Polish roots back to the mid-1700s. There's still a lot more work for me to do, like filling in details, and figuring out how/why a few Prussians ended up in the mix. It's a fascinating project that will carry me through winter, and I hope will result in a trip to Poland and Lithuania. The database also holds true to JZI's mission. It's not just names and dates I'm looking at while searching their records. With godparents, professions, and people who attended births and deaths listed, I can begin to see the web of people and families who have been connected to each other for centuries. They know each other and are there for each other through every milestone. The life of a Polish peasant in the 1800s is dramatically different from modern American life, with kinship and family ties being the center of everything they did. A great resource for understanding more about family structures of Polish peasants is The Polish Peasant in Europe and America, a classic sociology book from 1918 that studies Polish immigrants and their families.

I reached out to the Jaminy Indexing Team to try to understand a bit more about their project and to see if similar databases exist in other parts of Poland. Krzysztof Ziecina was happy to help with my queries and his English is excellent. He explained that "there are a couple of similar projects across Poland. None of them index registry books to the level of detail we do. However, I would recommend Lubgens as a group similar to us, which does their job with passion and carefully. They cover [the] area near Lublin. Unfortunately, their page is only in Polish." 

The JZI team is also able to put records from their database into context which helps those of us with a limited understanding of late 19th century Polish history. I asked Krzysztof why there was such an exodus of young people from the region. He explained that it was due to the January Uprising when Poland was part of Russia. In 1863, when the "Russian partition of Poland ended, the Tsar granted each peasant a small piece of land taken from noble landowners. That was fine until the farmers' children grew up. There was not enough land to feed them all, so typically the oldest son inherited the farm, and [the other] children had to find jobs on their own. It was really hard. Some of them decided to emigrate. Very often the first sibling who emigrated and had a good life in America, he/she invited brothers, sisters, and friends to join him/her."

We see this pattern not just in the Jaminy to Massachusetts pipeline, but also in immigration patterns from other parts of Poland (or Italy) to Schenectady. Indeed, the 2015 SCHS "Boomtown" exhibition explored how family connections in the 'old country' meant certain neighborhoods and streets in Schenectady were filled with immigrants from a single European village.

Screenshot of a baptism record for the author's great-grandparent from the JZI database.

As I head back into their extensive database to continue my quest for answers, I'm endlessly grateful to the JZI volunteers for making this resource possible and accessible to English speakers. I'm also personally fascinated by some of the family history I've uncovered thanks to JZI. Apparently, the Zawadzki clan hails from a village very close to an ancient shrine deep in the woods. Perhaps that explains my own draw to nature; it's in my blood, after all. And, above all, I found humor in discovering that Frank Zawadzki wasn't the son of a nobleman or landowner or anything we Americans tend to imagine when we think of our ancestors. Nope, Frank's dad was a beggar. Thanks to those intrepid Poles, making the journey to America in the early 1900s, I can happily say the Zawacki family is no longer known as the village beggars.

Uroczysko Święte Miejsce, the holy shrine near the village where the Zawadzki clan lived. Photo from Gosi Szymańskiej's blog "Po Kraju"

The JZI database search engine is available at https://jzi.org.pl/geneo/.


Friday, July 30, 2021

Lucky Lindy Visits Schenectady Airport as Part of National Tour

This post was written by library volunteer Diane Leone.

Photo of Charles Lindbergh wearing flight jacket and smiling for the camera
Charles Augustus Lindbergh, Jr. (1927), photo by Underwood & Underwood. National Portrait Gallery.

Charles Lindbergh’s nonstop solo flight from New York to Paris ranks as one of the greatest achievements in the annals of aviation history. Following this feat, Long Island multimillionaire Harry Guggenheim convinced the aviator to embark on a three-month tour of the United States in his famous Spirit of St. Louis, in an effort to boost the newly developing field of aviation. The trip, financed by the Daniel Guggenheim Fund for the Promotion of Aeronautics (named after Harry’s father), began on July 20, 1927 at Long Island’s Mitchel Field and ended on October 23 at the same location. In the end, Lindbergh visited 92 cities in 48 states. Schenectady was fortunate to be included in that roster.

The still unfinished Schenectady Airport, a visible symbol of the growing interest in aviation, was the perfect location for this highly anticipated event.  Only months before, on February 9, the city’s chamber of commerce optioned land for the facility, which was to be funded by interested citizens. Within one week of the June fund drive the considerable sum of $121,000 was raised for the project, promoted in part by a highly visible billboard in the area of Erie Boulevard announcing that “Lindbergh made his goal . . . so can Schenectady.” Construction followed, with the official airport opening occurring on May 26, 1928, ten months after Lindbergh’s visit. Schenectady was the first American city to boast a community-owned airport, now owned by the county.

 

Lindbergh posing before "Spirit of St. Louis," hangar 16, Curtiss Field (Long Island), May 1927. Cradle of Aviation Museum, Garden City, NY.
 

Lucky Lindy’s stop in Schenectady followed a number of stops in the New England states as well as Albany.  On July 28, he flew from the New York State capital to Schenectady, detouring up the Hudson, and passing over Troy, Glens Falls and Lake George, before circling back to the Electric City and landing one hour and forty-five minutes after leaving Albany. Preceding the aviator’s highly anticipated visit was his escort plane, arriving at 11:30 am. Ten minutes later, the Spirit of St. Louis approached from the east, looping back over part of the city’s commercial district before arriving at the airport. As the aviator neared the field, the Schenectady Gazette reported that he thrilled the exuberant crowd before landing:


He greeted the waiting multitude with a beautiful executed “zoom” which thrilled everyone. Gliding his plane to within 250 feet of the field he suddenly nosed upwards and raced almost straight into the air for a thousand or more feet. Then he circled, banked, dove and finally glided gracefully down the field to where the reception committee was waiting to extend him an official greeting ("Heroic Flier's Reception” 1).

 

The city’s leaders had prepared extensively for this event. Almost all city offices closed from 10am to 2pm, and many businesses allowed their employees time to enjoy the occasion. Automobile and pedestrian traffic was directed by a contingent of police, state troopers, National Guard ,and local Officers’ Reserve Corps. In an effort to reach a wide audience, the speeches were broadcast through the WGY radio station. A Schenectady Gazette loudspeaker on State Street transmitted the reception to the downtown area. 

 

In spite of the sweltering heat, the event attracted a crowd of approximately 25,000 people, streaming in on foot and by car, all eager to see the world-renowned aviator with boyish good looks. As Lindbergh exited his aircraft, clad in an aviator helmet, goggles, and a leather jacket worn over a suit and tie, he was welcomed by several local dignitaries, including some from neighboring cities and towns. Schenectady mayor Alexander T. Blessing opened with a welcoming address, followed by short speeches given by Martin P. Rice, director of publicity and broadcasting for General Electric, and John F. Horman, Schenectady Chamber of Commerce president. Rice spoke about the pivotal role of the city in the fields of transportation and communication, and emphasized the importance of electrical power to the future of aviation. Horman spoke proudly of the city’s airport, expressing his determination to make it a class A facility as defined by the Department of Commerce, and transform it into a regional hub. In fact, he noted that Colonel Lindbergh chose Schenectady as a stopping point “because he knew and recognized that our city is air-minded and alive to the possibilities of commercial aviation, because our citizens have established and own this airport, and that he wanted to congratulate our city in consequence” ("Address of Welcome" 16).


Charles Lindbergh speaks on WGY radio from the Schenectady County Airport, photo by General Electric Company. miSci-Museum of Science and Innovation.

Lindbergh’s speech focused on the need for the US to develop commercial aviation, which required the confidence of the public. He went on to list the four criteria needed to establish that confidence as “airworthy aircraft, adequately maintained; competent pilots; suitably equipped airways and airports; standard air traffic rules” ("Address of Welcome" 16).

 

Following the addresses, the colonel, standing in the rear of a truck adorned with an American flag, was driven around the field, often saluting in response to the cheers and blaring automobile horns of a wildly exuberant crowd. He then engaged in a fifteen-minute round of hand-shaking and autographing items for the public. Lindbergh also examined specifications for the development of Schenectady’s new airport. During his brief visit, he paid tribute to the city’s contribution to commercial aviation: “Plans for the development of your port are magnificent and now that you are started in the right direction you people here in Schenectady should get behind this airport and make it a prominent place on the airmap. The greatest need in the development of commercial aviation is the setting up of ports such as you have here in Schenectady” (Heroic Flier’s Reception” 1).

The tour’s tightly packed schedule had Lindbergh leaving after about a half hour, heading for Syracuse via the cities of Utica, Little Falls and Rome. Upon departure, Lindbergh once again entertained the crowd with several aerial maneuvers.

Other famous aviators also landed at the airport, including Amelia Earhart, who touched down on March 27, 1929 and gave a radio address on WGY. A little more than two years later Harold Gatty and Wiley Post, who had recently smashed the previous record in an around-the-world flight, were honored by GE after landing their Winnie Mae.

Gatty and Post's plane, Winnie Mae, at the Schenectady Airport. Photo from the Larry Hart Collection, Grems-Doolittle Library.

Having achieved enduring fame as a daring and skilled aviator, Lindbergh later became indelibly linked to the tragic kidnapping and murder of his young son. Perhaps lesser known are his isolationist views prior to World War II, as well as his antisemitism.  In 1927, however, he was America’s golden boy. As Lindbergh living history performer Tim Clark notes, “He came along at an interesting time when the country was looking for a hero. He displayed all the values you want to see in your hero: modesty, courage, sacrifice, and he did all for the advancement of aviation” (Buell).

Lindbergh’s Guggenheim Tour had a significant impact on aviation.  According to Richard P. Hallion, an Air Force historian who wrote a book on the Guggenheims, the use of airmail increased dramatically, as did the public’s perception of the feasibility of air travel. Locally, the visit helped raise funds for the completion of the airport. Bud Matthews, former president of the Empire State Aerosciences Museum, noted that “there were a lot of airports being built in the U.S. around that time. His [Lindbergh’s] visit really helped put Schenectady on the map” (Buell).

For those interested, the Grems-Doolittle Library owns a DVD (DVD Hart 974.744 Fir Ref) which includes brief highlights of this historic event.

Lindbergh, wearing a pilot's flight helmet and overcoat, shakes hands with a man wearing a suit
Lindbergh and Mayor Blessing. Photo from the Larry Hart Collection, Grems-Doolittle Library.

Works Consulted

"Address of Welcome, Speeches to Inform Lindbergh of Airport Here, Flier's Account of Progress in Air." Schenectady Gazette, 29 July 1927, p. 16. https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=kXlGAAAAIBAJ&sjid=JukMAAAAIBAJ&pg=1021%2C2939227

Buell, Bill. "Schenectady County Airport Marks Lindbergh Visit in 1927." Daily Gazette [Schenectady], 23 July 2017. https://dailygazette.com/2017/07/23/county-airport-marks-lindbergh-visit-in-1927/

"Gazette Speaker to Broadcast Sound of Lindbergh Reception." Schenectady Gazette, 28 July 1927, p. 1. https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=kHlGAAAAIBAJ&sjid=JukMAAAAIBAJ&pg=6901%2C2723020

"Guggenheim Tour—48 States, Visited 92 Cities,..." Charles Lindbergh: An American Aviator, Spirit of St. Louis 2 Project, 2014. http://www.charleslindbergh.com/history/gugtour.asp

Hart, Larry. "Schenectady Caught Aeroplane Fever in 192...and Built Port Schenectady." Schenectady Gazette, 15 Oct. 1971, p. 25. https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=BXshAAAAIBAJ&sjid=1okFAAAAIBAJ&pg=2038%2C3780697

"Heroic Flier's Reception Here Equals That Given by Other Cities on Route." Schenectady Gazette, 29 July 1927, p. 1. https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=kXlGAAAAIBAJ&sjid=JukMAAAAIBAJ&pg=1178%2C2852824

"Lindbergh in This City Today, Police Plan to Handle a Huge Throng at the New Airport." Schenectady Gazette, 28 July 1927, p. 1.https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=kHlGAAAAIBAJ&sjid=JukMAAAAIBAJ&pg=1207%2C2722491

Wilkin, Jeff. "Lifestyles." Daily Gazette [Schenectady], 25 July 2002, pp. D-01. NewsBank infoweb.newsbank.com/apps/news/document-view?p=NewsBank&docref=news/110FA8F990A98684