The Office of State History hopes to bring the community and network of historians working throughout New York State closer by highlighting the work, research and community outreach efforts of individual historians. This section will change on a rotating basis and should be representative of the entire field, with opportunities to highlight undergraduate and graduate student research as well. To be considered for a future "Meet the Historian", please contact us at statehistory@nysed.gov.  Content should include a photograph, short bio, and a description of any special projects or research highlights.

Danielle Funiciello

New York State Museum Research Fellow in History

Danielle Funiciello is pursuing her PhD at the University at Albany with the support of the New York State Museum. Her doctoral work focuses on Angelica Schuyler Church(1756-1814), the daughter of American Revolutionary War Major General Philip Schuyler and his wife Catharine Van Rensselaer Schuyler.

In reconstructing the life of this Dutch-descended, elite, Albany-born woman, she illuminates the ways that Church and her peers built and maintained social networks to provide power for themselves and their families. She considers the ways that the Schuyler’s oppression of Native, African, and other vulnerable people helped the family to cultivate their own success. Funiciello also examines the intercultural characteristics of early New York with an eye for the ways in which the Dutch did and did not assimilate into English colonial culture by the end of the American Revolution.

Funiciello holds a Master’s Degree in Public History and a dual Bachelor’s Degree in US History and Art (magna cum laude) from the University at Albany. She was formerly an interpreter at Schuyler Mansion State Historic Site where she wrote “The Women of Schuyler Mansion” guided tour and “The Women of Schuyler Mansion” outreach program. Funiciello has also provided consultation on historical fiction books including Hamilton and Peggy! by L. M. Elliot, I, Eliza Hamilton by Susan Holloway Scott, and My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie. The goal of her continuing work is to bring accurate and lively discussion of eighteenth-century women to public audiences. Follow her research, or ask her a question on Twitter: @ADotChurch

Previously Featured Historians

  • Anastasia Pratt, PhD

    Anastasia Pratt, PhD

    Clinton County Historian

    Anastasia Pratt has been the Clinton County Historian since May 2008. In that time, she's taken on a variety of projects, including the "Clinton County History Through The Eyes of Its Children" mosaic. Most recently, though, Anastasia has been working on a project about the county's many World War II veterans.

    Using information compiled by a local historian many years ago, as well as letters, newspaper articles, photos, and oral histories, Anastasia is creating a compendium of local WWII veterans and placing them in the context of the local and international context for that service.

    In addition to her work as historian, Anastasia is an Associate Professor at SUNY Empire State College, teaching in the Historical Studies department and Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program (particularly in the Public History and Heritage Preservation certificates) and an active musician, performing as a bassist and vocalist with Towne Meeting and other local groups. She graduate with a BA in History (Summa Cum Laude) from SUNY Plattsburgh and with an MA and PhD in American Culture from the University of Michigan. 

  • Christine L. Ridarsky

    Christine L. Ridarsky

    Christine L. Ridarsky was appointed Rochester City Historian in October 2008. She has B.A.s in Journalism & Mass Communication and Political Science from Kent State University, an M.A. in American History from the State University of New York, College at Brockport, and is ABD toward a Ph.D. in American History at the University of Rochester. She is Editor of the Rochester History journal and Co-Editor of Susan B. Anthony and the Struggle for Equal Rights (University of Rochester Press, 2012).

    Ridarsky has more than 14 years of experience in public history and archives, having served as Regional Archivist for the New York State Archives Documentary Heritage Program from 2002 to 2004 and as an archival consultant and professional historian since then. She has also taught history and writing courses at the University of Rochester and SUNY Brockport.

    In January 2012, Ridarsky took on added responsibilities as Historical Services Consultant at the Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County, giving her oversight of the Local History & Genealogy Division and the Digitizing Program, in addition to the Office of the City Historian.

    Ridarsky serves as a Trustee and Deputy Regional Coordinator (Region 11) of the Association of Public Historians of New York State, the professional organization that represents the state’s 1,600+ government-appointed historians, and as a founding member of the Government Historians Committee of the National Council on Public History. She also sits on the advisory board for the Joseph Avenue Arts & Cultural Association.

    Currently, Ridarsky and Deputy Rochester City Historian Michelle Finn are leading a community-wide collaboration to celebrate the 100th anniversary of New York's woman suffrage amendment in 2017. A highlight of the collaboration will be an exhibit scheduled for June-August 2017 in the Central Library of Rochester & Monroe County. The exhibit will be co-curated by and feature items from the collections of several local cultural institutions, including the Susan B. Anthony Museum & House, the Rochester Public Library, the Rochester Museum & Science Center, the University of Rochester, and the Rochester Institute of Technology. The collaborators are also partnering to develop a community-wide website and events calendar and to co-sponsor or support events throughout the year. Ridarsky will be presenting a paper on woman suffrage in the state at the Researching New York conference in Albany in November. Indeed, with 2017 fast approaching and the anniversary of the federal suffrage amendment in 2020, woman suffrage will be focus for Ridarsky's work for the near future.

    Ridarsky is also spearheading an effort to restore one of the City of Rochester's pioneer cemeteries. The Rapids Cemetery was established circa 1810 and is the burial site for Rochester pioneers and veterans from the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Civil War, and the Spanish-American War. Unfortunately, after the private cemetery association that managed the site was disbanded in the 1940s, the cemetery was abandoned and deteriorated. Today, few headstones remain standing. Over the past several months, community volunteers have begun clearing brush and locating fallen headstones. In October, the City will contract with a gravestone restoration expert to teach a hands-on, two-day course at the cemetery. Up to 30 people, including City employees and volunteers, will learn proper techniques for cleaning, repairing, and resetting stones so that they can continue the restoration process on their own in coming months.

    Other projects Ridarsky and her staff have underway include improving public access to the records in the Office of the City Historian by entering them into an online searchable archives management system; documenting graffiti art in an abandoned subway tunnel (also the former Erie Canal aqueduct) (this also will be the focus of a session at Researching New York); and working with City officials and neighbors to restore a World War I cannon, improve the historic park it sits in, and develop interpretive panels discussing the park's history.

     

  • Lauren Roberts

    Lauren Roberts

    Lauren Roberts is the Saratoga County Historian. Lauren earned her B.A. in American Studies and Anthropology from Skidmore College in 2004 and her M.A. in Public History from the University of Albany in 2005. Lauren worked as a researcher for Curtin Archaeological Consulting, Inc. from 2004 to 2009 performing background research for archaeological digs across the state. From 2007 to 2014 Lauren was appointed historian of the Town of Day, a small rural community located in the northwestern corner of Saratoga County. In 2009 she became the Saratoga County Historian and remains in that position today. She is also the Region 5 coordinator for APHNYS.

    Saratoga County was formed in 1791 from Albany County and has a rich and dramatic history. From mineral springs to rivers and canals, water has played a significant role in shaping the story of Saratoga County. One of the current projects Lauren is working on centers on a lesser known body of water- the Great Sacandaga Lake. Located in the northwest corner of Saratoga County and continuing into Fulton County this manmade lake was created in 1930 to control the flow of the Hudson River in times of flood and drought. In order to create this vast reservoir hundreds of people were forced to leave their homes and move to higher ground. Structures were moved or burned, stumps and trees were removed, and dams, bridges and new roads created. Lauren is working with other municipal historians around the Sacandaga Valley as well as with Pepe Productions to produce a one hour documentary on the creation of The Great Sacandaga, which is set to be released this summer.

  • Tashae Smith

    Tashae Smith

    Tashae K. Smith, is a senior History major and Museum Studies minor at Manhattanville College.

    In 2015, Tashae was a winner of an Open Space Institute Barnabas McHenry Award. Her award supported her year-long project to research, write, design, record and partner with a non-profit, Sound & Story of the Hudson Valley, to design and install signage for a walking tour on African-American History in her home city of Newburgh, NY.

    Tashae’s tour has been fully installed, with signage and online audio recordings, with the support of the Newburgh City council and the City Historian and has been featured in the local press. Tashae led the inaugural tour herself in late August, with over 100 attendees, including several city councilpersons. 

    http://www.recordonline.com/news/20160827/walking-tour-explores-african-american-history-in-newburgh

    http://www.mville.edu/news/2015/05/open-space-institute-awards-manhattanville-student-research-opportunity

    URL link to the tour’s audio recordings at the Sound & Story website:
    http://www.soundandstory.org/directories/inwashingtonsshadow.html

  • Will Tatum, PhD

    Will Tatum, PhD

    A native of Georgia and raised in North Carolina, Will received his BA in History and Anthropology at the College of William and Mary in Virginia in 2003. He went on to earn his MA and PhD in History at Brown University in 2004 and 2016, respectively. From 2010-2012, he served as the Sol Feinstone Scholar at the David Library of the American Revolution in Washington Crossing, PA. In October 2012, Dutchess County Executive Marcus J. Molinaro appointed him as the Dutchess County Historian.

    Will works within the Dutchess County Clerk’s Office, where, with the support of County Clerk Bradford H. Kendall, he tackles a variety of on-going projects. First among these is indexing and imaging the Dutchess County Ancient Documents Collection, which includes the county’s earliest court records. Supported by generous funding from the New York State Archives’ Local Government Records Management Improvement Fund, this project has processed 87,000 pages of material to date. Almost half of that material (37,000 pages) is now accessible via keyword search on the Dutchess County Clerk’s webpage at www.dutchessny.gov/ancientdocuments. Will has also researched, sourced images, and written text for an ongoing series of exhibit panels, which tell the history of Dutchess County government department by department. He holds quarterly meetings and maintains an active email list and online calendar to coordinate activities within the county history community.

    In collaboration with the Dutchess County Historical Society, Will has launched and managed two regular event series: the Dutchess County Historic Tavern Trail and Decoding the Past. The Tavern Trail is a friend-raising event for the history community, hosting brief presentations throughout the county at restaurants in historic buildings and historic sites that were once taverns. The 2016 series explored the intersection between the host sites and their local communities, while the 2017 series focused on local connections with the Temperance Movement and Prohibition. For more information, visit www.meetup.com/dutchesstaverntrail. The Decoding the Past programs reverse the standard lecture format, focusing on unraveling the research process by which historians, museum specialists, archivists, and librarians reveal the hidden history contained within objects and documents.

    In 2018, the Dutchess County Historical Society will be leading a special year-long commemorative program entitled “The Year of the Veteran.” Through a variety of programs and outreach initiatives, the society, with support from the Dutchess County Historian’s Office and other partners, will document veterans’ stories and build a community dialogue around the themes of service and sacrifice. For more information on this exciting program, visit https://dchsny.org/.