New York's Capital Region in 50 Objects

New York's Capital Region in 50 Objects


Each region of the nation has its own distinctive history and identity. The New York’s Capital Region—consisting of Albany, Rensselaer, Schenectady, and Saratoga Counties—is no different. But what best identifies the region? What events, objects, people, and ideas have contributed to its character and uniqueness?

To learn the answers, we presented these questions to the numerous museums, historical organizations, libraries, and residents of the Capital Region. The fifty objects that were ultimately selected present an exciting history of the Capital Region, including well-known favorites but also unexpected surprises. Some of the fifty objects characterize very broad topics like the textile industry and the Hudson River School of art, while others embody large populations of people who shaped the character of the region, such as the Dutch and the Iroquois. Many objects represent specific people or events, such as writer William Kennedy and the Battle of Saratoga. In some instances, the objects represent themselves, like the GE Monitor Top refrigerator and Albany’s beloved Nipper statue. A complementary image accompanies each of the fifty objects, providing context and additional information.

Overall, the fifty objects clearly demonstrate that this narrowly circumscribed part of New York State has played an astonishing role in shaping the history of the nation and, in several instances, the world beyond the confines of our national borders.

Stephen and Harriet Myers Residence

Stephen Myers, the leading figure in the Underground Railroad movement in the Capital Region during the 1840s and 1850s, was an African American activist who fought for the abolition of slavery in the United States. He also assisted freedom seekers, those who had escaped enslavement, in pursuit of their freedom. As the principal agent for the Vigilance Committee of the Underground Railroad in the 1850s, he coordinated the efforts of local citizens to provide food, clothing, shelter, housing, and employment for freedom seekers making their way into Albany.The Vigilance committee assisted thousands in the course of its work.

In addition, Myers led the fight for the rights of African Americans in housing, education, employment, and voting through political lobbying, public speaking, and using newspapers to educate the public. The broadside exhibited here shows Stephen Myers as a committee member, arranging a convention in Albany in support of Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. While Myers was well known for his journalistic work with several African American newspapers, The Northern Star and Freeman’s Advocate, published in Albany, was the most famous. His wife Harriet was also active in the work of helping freedom seekers and organizing local women to engage in Underground Railroad activities.

Stephen and Harriet lived in Albany’s Arbor Hill neighborhood in the 1850s,  in what is known today as the Stephen and Harriet Myers Residence. The Residence is a documented Underground Railroad site that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the National Park Service Network to Freedom, and the New York State Underground Railroad Freedom Trail.

Stephen and Harriet Myers’ Residence, 194 Livingston Avenue, Albany, New York

Photograph by Daniel Stewart, LensCraft Photo


Courtesy of The Underground Railroad History Project, Albany, New York

God Save the Union!


Medium: Letterpress on paper

Dimensions: 11 H x 8 1/2 W

Credit: Albany Institute of History & Art Library

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