NORWICH, N.Y. – The Chenango County Historical Society (CCHS) will host a special program on June 19, with several activities planned in celebration of Path Through History Weekend.
Beginning at 3:30 p.m., the “Routes & Roadblocks: The Black Motoring Experience” exhibition will be unveiled. This exhibit connects the history of Chenango County, the impact of the invention of the automobile, and the work of SUNY Oneonta Distinguished Professor Dr. Gretchen Sorin. Dr. Sorin is author of the book Driving While Black and producer of the PBS documentary “Driving While Black: Race, Space and Mobility in America.”
Curated by students from the Cooperstown Graduate Program (CGP) and generously supported by Golden Artist Colors, “Routes & Roadblocks” focuses on Chenango County’s history and the black motoring experience during the mid-20th century. The mass production of automobiles redefined travel and increased mobility within America. For the first time in history, people were able to travel at their own leisure. The development of the car meant that motorists could now access rural regions, such as Chenango County, that were previously out of the way. New roads and highways were constructed, which increased mobility, and businesses and commerce benefited across the nation. Cars held even more significance for African Americans, whose mobility had historically been restricted by legal and discriminatory methods. Outside of public transportation, the automobile provided an alternative avenue for Black travelers. Yet, personal vehicles also provided challenges for Black Americans, with unseen roadblocks persisting today.
“We are grateful for this tremendous opportunity to collaborate with Dr. Sorin and her talented CGP students thanks to the generosity of Golden Artist Colors,” said Jessica Moquin, CCHS executive director. “Being able to work with an historian of Dr. Sorin’s esteem has provided us with a unique opportunity to present our local heritage through new perspectives.”
“During the exhibit opening, community members are encouraged to leave copies of their own personal travel and vacation photos to be included in the exhibition,” said Joseph Fryc, CCHS operations manager. “By sharing our collective stories, we hope to provide an interactive community element to the exhibit narrative.”
Also that afternoon, the “Stitched In Time: The Creations of Beulah Hendrickson” exhibit will open. Featuring select pieces from the Beulah Ayers Barrett Hendrickson collection, this charming display is a highlight of folk art being curated to preserve Chenango County’s cultural heritage. While Hendrickson made a living at various times as a teacher, a farmer, and a country store owner, it was her unique ability to hand-craft distinctive dolls and figures that have ensured her legacy.
Immediately following these exhibit openings, join CCHS for a brief awards ceremony when the Elinor Robb Troicke Memorial Scholarship will be presented to two graduating seniors from Chenango County. Both are aspiring to be teachers, majoring in adolescent education: Liam O’Brien from Oxford Academy will concentrate in English at SUNY Oneonta, and Sherburne-Earlville High School’s Garrett Fleming is enrolling at Keuka College to pursue a social studies concentration with a special education focus.
At the conclusion of the scholarship ceremony, the newest member of Chenango’s Heritage “Wall of Honor” will be revealed. The “Wall of Honor” is a meaningful way to recognize someone and a thoughtful way to support the mission of CCHS. A donation is made in honor of a recognized individual, and their name is then displayed on the “Wall of Honor” inside the main entrance of Ward School No. 2. Additional information on each honoree will be featured in an upcoming virtual experience.
First established in 1939, CCHS is the primary organization dedicated to actively and comprehensively preserving the history of Chenango County. The area’s premier heritage museum, the organization celebrates local culture – unique traditions, noteworthy residents, and unusual stories of the region. CCHS programs are made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.
CGP is one of the country’s oldest museum studies graduate programs, established in 1964. Since then, the program has continued to grow. CGP continues to have national impacts on the arts, humanities, historical preservation, cultural and community programming, economic development, and social change.
During Path Through History Weekends, special events are held to highlight historically and culturally significant sites, and offer new perspectives on New York state’s heritage. For more information, visit www.ChenangoHistorical.org or call (607) 334-9227, ext. 2.