News of Otsego County


Gretchen Sorin In Line For National Recognition


Gretchen Sorin In Line

For National Recognition

Gretchen Sorin

COOPERSTOWN – SUNY Oneonta Distinguished Professor Gretchen Sullivan Sorin is a finalist for a 2021 NAACP Image Award in the category of Outstanding Literary Work – Non-Fiction for her book “Driving While Black” (W. W. Norton & Company). The 52nd NAACP Image Awards ceremony will air live on BET March 27 at 8 p.m.

“I am tremendously honored and very grateful,” said Sorin, director of the Cooperstown Graduate School in Museum Studies. “I hope that this book in some small way helps to shine a light on the origins of restricted mobility for Black Americans and their relationship with law enforcement and serves as a call to action that will help to end racial profiling.”

9-10-20 Graduate Students Adults, Don’t Need To Be Babied


Graduate Students Adults,

Don’t Need To Be Babied

Sorin Convinces SUNY To Keep CGP Open

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

COOPERSTOWN – There’s a difference between grads and undergrads, said Gretchen Sorin, Cooperstown Graduate Program director.

Gretchen Sorin

“The graduate students are adults,” she said. “They know how to behave. The undergrads are less grown-up.”

Following SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras’ announcement Thursday, Sept. 3, that the SUNY Oneonta campus would close for the remainder of the semester, students reached out to Sorin, panicked that they also would be sent home.

This was not the case, however, and classes were allowed to continue.

“We’ve been very careful,” she said. “We’ve really emphasized following the guidelines that SUNY Oneonta gave us.”

Sorin didn’t blame SUNY Oneonta President Barbara Jean Morris for the outbreak that caused 651 students to test positive for COVID-19.

“No one could have expected what happened to happen,” she said. “I was involved with the dean, and I know a lot of planning went into it. I’m sad this happened, but she wasn’t at fault.”

Though CGP classes are being held virtually for the fall semester, students have access to the CGP building, where they can use the printer, scanners, computers and study spaces – but only if they’ve tested negative.

“All of our 47 students have tested negative,” she said.

Students will also be subject to pool testing throughout the semester, and many quarantined even before coming to the county, as well as for 14 days once they arrived.

“So many were afraid that their state would be put on the ‘hot spot’ list, so they went ahead and quarantined at home anyways,” she said. “We sent weekly emails advising students which states were on the list.”

National Parks Board Appoint Falk To Review Historical Nominations

National Parks Board Appoints Falk

To Review Historical Nominations

Cindy Falk

COOPERSTOWN – Cynthia G. Falk, Cooperstown Graduate Program professor (and Cooperstown’s deputy mayor), has been appointed to the National Historic Landmarks Committee of the National Park System Advisory Board.

The purpose of the committee is to review nominations for National Historic Landmarks and make recommendations to the board.

FALK, CROWELL: CGP Helps Guardsmen Save Historic Resources

CGP Helps Guardsmen

Save Historic Resources

To the Editor:

Earlier this month, the Cooperstown community welcomed a group of soldiers from the 403rd Civil Affairs battalion for their monthly training. The visit is part of an ongoing partnership between this unit and SUNY Oneonta’s Cooperstown Graduate Program.

CGP students develop a program about the protection of cultural heritage (think of the Monuments Men during World War II), and the soldiers learn about museum collections and visit the Hall of Fame as well as training with the 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade from the New York Army National Guard, which brings Blackhawk helicopters.

Both the soldiers and CGP students and recent graduates participate in a scenario that requires them to think on their feet about how to care for museum collections in times of conflict.

This training event requires numerous collaborations, and we would like to thank the Clark Sports Center, National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Bassett Healthcare, Clark Estates and Jane Forbes Clark for the use of facilities; members of the Cooperstown Fire Department for preparing hot food at the end of a cold day; John Odell for sharing his knowledge of baseball’s tangible history; and the CGP students who lent their enthusiasm and creativity to make the exercise a success.

We are happy that our community is able to share its many resources with those who serve our country.

Professor, CGP, SUNY Oneonta

Major, Army Reserves

Dick Case, 84, Beloved Writer Earned CGP Degree In 1967


Dick Case, 84, Beloved Writer,

Earned CGP Degree In 1967

Dick Case

COOPERSTOWN — Dick Case, a generations-long columnist at Syracuse Newspapers and a 1967 graduate of the Cooperstown Graduate Program in Museum Studies, died Sunday, Dec. 22, at age 84.  The cause was pneumonia.

He was invited back in 2010 for the annual Bruce Buckley lecture on the topic, “Observations of a Lifelong Storyteller.”

He found stories where others didn’t: “Like gems hidden at the bottom of a mine, they don’t sparkle until you find them and bring them to the light. These are the sort of folks who lit up my life through a career. They own the small stories that don’t make headlines. They rest there, waiting to be mined,” Case wrote in the introduction to a 2009 book of his columns, “Remembering Syracuse.”

Richard G. Case retired in 2013 from The Post-Standard after 53 years in Syracuse journalism.

LWV: Can Democracy Be Achieved Politely?


LWV: Can Democracy

Be Achieved Politely?

How can we debate the issues of our Democracy in a civil way, particularly in the current atmosphere?  Today, that was the question before “A User’s Guide For Local Democracy,” a morning of presentations and discussion in Springbrook’s Family Center, organized by the Cooperstown and Oneonta chapters of the League of Women Voters.  Tom Pullyblank, above, Catholic Charities director of Planning & Mediation Services, outlined discussion circles – literally, chairs in a circle – and how a moderator can assist a group in reaching a consensus.  CGP Professor Will Walker, seated at left, detailed how open-ended questioning has helped his students elicit valuable and detailed oral histories across cultures. He also introduced students Georgia LeMair and Kirbie Sondreal, seated to his left, who have used Walker’s methods to develop community conversations:  In Cooperstown, for instance, on Women’s Suffrage and the Centennial of the 19th Amendment.  Inset is the New York State’s executive director, Laura Ladd Biermann, who conducted a training session on keeping debates on topic.  “The moderator is in charge,” she said.  “If it gets out of line, you’re the one who has to bring them into line.” Cooperstown’s Maureen Murray and Oneonta’s Steve Londner organized the program. (Jim Kevlin/


Tribute Concert To Fleetwood Mac


FLEETWOOD MAC – 7 p.m. Performance by Tusk, Fleetwood Mac Tribute band, performing some of their greatest hits. Cost, $35 in front half of theater. Foothills Performing Arts Center, Oneonta. 607-431-2080 or visit

THEATER – 7 p.m. Performance by Tom Morgan “Tales from the Empire” telling story of the Morgan family, former owners of The Empire Hotel in Gilbertsville. Adapted from autobiographical stories in newspaper columns, radio show “Moneytalk.” Cost, $15/adult. Auditorium, Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown. 607-547-1400 or visit


Chamber Celebrating

Commerce & Community


OPENING RECEPTION – 5:30 – 7 p.m. Opening an exhibit Celebrating Commerce and Community. By first year CGP students, celebrates this years inductees to the Chamber of Commerce Hall of Fame and includes refreshments, snacks, friends, furry friends, more. The Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown. Call 607-547-1400 or visit

HISTORY – 6:30 p.m. Learn about the Hartwick College Archives, which include the Cooper Papers among other cool items, with Shelley Wallace. Free, Open to the public. Kinney Memorial Library, 3140 Co. Rd. 11, Hartwick. Call 607-293-6600 or visit


Listen To Everyone


COMMUNITY PROGRAM – 7 p.m. CGP Students present “Listen to Everyone”, using oral history recordings with the aged. Woodside Hall, 1 Main St., Cooperstown. Call Karen Cadwalader 607-547-0600 ext. 101 or visit

TABLET TALK – 10:30 a.m. – Noon. Bring questions about your tablet and find the answers with the group. Huntington Memorial Library, 62 Chestnut St., Oneonta. Call 607-432-1980 or visit


Presentation On ‘Driving While Black’


CIVIL RIGHTS HISTORY – 3 p.m. “Driving While Black” on African Americans on the Road in the Jim Crow Era, a presentation by Dr. Gretchen Sorin, Director at Cooperstown Graduate Program. 1st Presbyterian Church, 27 Church St., Cooperstown. Call 607-547-8401.

YOUTH PROGRAM – 2:30 p.m Children will be introduced to the ancient monuments around the world, learn about the cultures that built them, and the group will build their own. Cooperstown Village Library. Call 607-547-8344 or visit

‘Driving While Black’ Film Based On Sorin Research

‘Driving While Black’ Film Uses Sorin Research

Gretchen Sorin
Gretchen Sorin

COOPERSTOWN – A new Ric Burns documentary titled “Driving While Black” will be based on research by Gretchen Sorin, director of the Cooperstown Graduate Program in Museum Studies, on the “Green Book.”

“The Green Book” is a 1937 travel guide listing hundreds of establishments across the South and the nation that welcomed African-Americans.

The book became an essential resource for safe travel in the pre-Civil Rights era. Burns talks about the project and his work with Sorin in this Smithsonian Magazine article

Over 50 Years, CGP Students Gather 1,800 Oral Histories

Over 50 Years, CGP Students Gather 1,800 Oral Histories

By LIBBY CUDMORE•The Freeman’s Journal

Edition of Thursday, Sept. 25

Professor Will Walker currently oversees the Oral History collection, compiled since the CGP’s founding in 1964.
Professor Will Walker currently oversees the Oral History collection, compiled since the CGP’s founding in 1964.

From maple sugar to folk songs, from farming techniques to pierogie recipes, over 1,800 recordings have been collected by the Cooperstown Graduate Program since its founding 50 years ago.

“There’s all kinds of incredible material,” said Will Walker, the associate professor of history who oversees the student research. “These are people’s lives.”

The Oral History collection has been part the Folklore concentration since the CGP opened in 1964 – the 50th anniversary will be celebrated the weekend of Oct. 10-12 by, among others, prominent alumni from across the country – and is now gathered as CGP’s Community Stories. “It’s a community-based project to capture the whole community,” he said. “Doctors, lawyers, farmers, teachers – the list is quite diverse.”

First-year students select an interview subject from suggestions Walker collects through a network of former subjects and interested parties. “It’s very organic,” he said.

Students also have a chance to reflect on previous interviews. In the 1970s, a group collected recipes from Utica’s Italian and Polish communities. “One of my students recently went back and found family members of those original interviews,” said Walker. “Some of them had moved away, but they still gathered at a church and made those same recipes 30 years later. She brought back the most delicious pierogies I’ve ever had.”

Other students went back and interviewed ice fishermen on Otsego Lake, just as students before them had done. “It’s interesting to hear what students recorded 30 years ago and now.”

The Ingalls family in Hartwick has also been the subject of interviews over the decades, tracing their history from a dairy farm to a roadside farm stand and u-pick on Blueberry Hill.

Former student Henry Glassie, now a “legend” in Folklore studies and a professor at Indiana University, did his oral history on Jesse Wells, a hop picker just as the crop was beginning to decline in the early 20th century. “He was also a musician, so Henry recorded all these songs,” said Walker. “He took these stunning photographs and pasted them on loose-leaf paper in his report.”

The original document is now fragile with age, but photocopies have been made and scanned for preservation. The interviews themselves, from reel-to-reel tape to mp3, are also logged, and many are available for listening on the Community Stories website.

CGP’s founder, the late Louis C. Jones, even told his tales of collecting stories in one student-conducted interview. “Some of those recorders weighed 50, 75 pounds and had to be plugged in – I’ve carried them up mountains, only to find there were no plugs!”

And as the fall semester begins, students are already starting to pick their subjects and practice their interviewing techniques. “So much history is not preserved in the written record,” said Walker. “The only way to capture this history is by talking to people.”

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