Utica College Center for Historical Research
Teaching, research, and the archiving and sharing of significant historical document collections are the three pillars of our mission at the Utica College Center for Historical Research. We serve students, academic and non-academic historians alike. Through various outreach activities we endeavor to bring campus and community together to foster a greater understanding of the historical condition and its global importance.
Born on April 22, 1912 in Clarksburg, West Virginia, Virgil C. Crisafulli spent his early years in Sicily and Wadsworth, Ohio. He graduated from Wadsworth High School in 1932. In 1938, he married Martha Eva Bair. Crisafulli earned his undergraduate, masters, and doctoral degrees from The Ohio State University. Before joining the U.S. Navy as a lieutenant during World War II, Crisafulli served as an economist with the Office of Price Administration and War Labor Board. During the war, he took part in several major combat operations while serving on the USS Ommaney Bay. Honorably discharged in 1946, Crisafulli joined the founding faculty at Utica College that same year. He worked at Utica College for 33 years as a professor of economics, retiring in 1978 as professor emeritus. During his tenure at Utica College, Crisafulli served on the Wage Stabilization Board during the Korean Conflict. From 1962 to 1964, he ran for Congress and served as Robert F. Kennedy’s Oneida County campaign coordinator. In 1967, Crisafulli served as s a delegate to the New York State Constitutional Convention. Throughout his academic career and into retirement, Crisafulli actively continued teaching and researching. He authored several books, including A Directory of Business and Industry in the Upper Mohawk Valley, An Economic Analysis of the Rome-Utica Area, and a history of Utica College.
The Virgil Crisafulli Collection contains personal letters and correspondence involving Virgil and Martha Crisafulli, Utica College faculty, and family friends, as well as material relating to Virgil Crisafulli’s awards, distinctions, and other memorabilia surrounding his life and time as a UC faculty member. Included are personal letters between Virgil Crisafulli and his wife Martha Eva Bair, Martha and her sister Maddie Bair, and Martha and Pauline “Polly” Walsh (Sondergelt). Other figures mentioned in these letters include Eda Benton, Mrs. D. E. Whitehead, and Neil Chamberlain, as well as letters, documents, memorandums, pamphlets, programs, assorted notes, and official correspondence regarding Crisafulli’s time at Utica College. Related subjects include official appointment letters and letters of recommendation at UC, material related to UC’s Fiftieth Anniversary, a number of biographical materials detailing Crisafulli’s career, information regarding former UC faculty and staff, and the UC chapter of American Association of University Professors (AAUP). The collection also contains papers, letters, memorandums, pamphlets, photographs, programs, and other documentary material regarding the development, institution and advancement of Utica College’s Crisafulli Fund, Crisafulli’s career and involvement in state-wide economic studies, and New York State’s Constitutional Conventions.
Utica’s Jennings family maintains a long tenure as residents and military representatives of the city during the twentieth-century. Born in England during the early 1860s, Abram Jennings immigrated to the United States in 1904 alongside his wife Ellen. Together, the migrant couple and their children settled in Utica. On October 12, 1934, Abram Jennings passed away, and soon after was buried in Forest Hill Cemetery. Born on December 12, 1913 to related members of the family, Francis “Frank” M. Jennings served as a 1st Lieutenant in the Air Force during World War II. A continuously prominent member of Utica’s Irish community, Frank Jennings passed away on November 8, 1991. Born on July 26, 1945, Frank’s son Lawrence also served in the United States Armed Forces during the Vietnam War. Drafted in 1967, Lawrence completed basic training in Texas and served as Corporal in the United States Army’s First Air Cavalry Division. On January 19, 1968, Lawrence was killed-in-action by friendly fire.
The Jennings Family Collection consists of related family material and miscellaneous newspaper clippings and memorabilia. The family material present regarding the family’s local and military history includes newspaper clippings detailing service awards and positions held by the family’s military men during World War II and Vietnam. Some materials detail the family’s connection to Utica’s Irish community. Alongside the material related to the Jennings family, the collection includes some local newspaper clippings and memorabilia.
Members of the Jones family (Utica and Holland Patent) have resided in the Mohawk Valley since the beginning of the twentieth-century. Born in 1901, Anna Parry emigrated from the United Kingdom (Wales) in 1916. She arrived in New York that same year and moved to Utica with her family, including a twin sister. Soon after her arrival, Anna married George E. Jones, another Welsh immigrant residing in Utica. On September 29, 1930, the couple’s son, Robert Edward Jones, was born. The Joneses lived at 1214 Ash Street alongside other immigrant families. An only child, Robert “Bob” Jones joined the United States Army soon after his 1949 graduation from Utica Free Academy. Following his return home from the Korean War, Bob Jones married Patricia Lucille Soukup of New Hartford in 1958. Born on May 2, 1936, Pat Soukup (Jones) graduated from New Hartford High School in 1954, and later from Vassar College (Poughkeepsie) in 1958. Following their marriage, Bob and Pat Jones moved to Holland Patent. Pat worked as a teacher at New Hartford High School, while Bob worked at the Utica Typesetting Company. The couple had two children; Richard in March 14, 1960 and Carrie on November 2, 1963. At the age of sixty-four, Robert Jones passed away on November 26, 1994. Pat Jones retired from teaching at New Hartford High School. She passed away on January 12, 2015 at the age of seventy-eight.
The Carrie Jones Family Collection contains several documents, photographs, and memorabilia associated with Utica’s Jones family. Largely, the collection consists of lifelong documents, memorabilia, and photographs associated with Robert and Patricia (Soukup) Jones, including report cards, yearbooks, a scrapbook, school and church event programs, postcards, newspaper clippings, Freemason induction certificates, and photos of family gatherings and trips, the Korean warfront, and the Utica community during the 1920s. Also present in the collection are documents pertaining to the Parry and Jones family’s early twentieth-century emigration from the United Kingdom. Combined, these materials provide researchers with a detailed glimpse of family life and the community in Central New York during the mid-twentieth-century.
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Kathleen Louise Johnson was born on October 3, 1917, in Akron, Ohio. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the College of Liberal Arts at Boston University in May 1939. Kathleen (Kate) married Jacob Oser on December 17, 1954, and tended to household duties at their home in Endicott, New York. During this time, social activism became a prominent component of Ms. Oser’s life. Her activist endeavors focused on improving the lives of migrant workers, fighting for equal rights for women and members of the gay community, and events related to the peace movement during the Vietnam War. As a student at Boston University from 1938 to 1939, Oser became a member of the Young Communist League. In 1940, she joined the Communist Party and remained a member through the early 1940s. Oser eventually left the Party because she was unable to fully dedicate herself to the Party’s agenda. In addition to being a prominent activist in the Utica area, Ms. Oser was the mother of three, the grandmother of four, and the great-grandmother of five. At the age of 91, she died on September 8, 2009.
The Kathleen Oser Collection contains a vast assortment of documents, newspapers, magazines, and photographs relating to the National Organization for Women (NOW) as well as to significant political, social, and cultural events (at the local, state, and national level) during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. NOW was established in 1966, two years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed sex discrimination, and three years after the publication of The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan (NOW’s co-founder and first president). Kate Oser served as the secretary for the local Utica, New York, chapter of NOW. Her collection includes documents related to various organizations and groups, including: Planned Parenthood; National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL); Mohawk Valley Friends of Choice; Conscience-Catholics for a Free Choice; Family Planning Advocates of NYS, Inc. (FPA); and United Farm Workers. Additionally, the collection contains documents related to: Civil Rights; feminism; sexual abuse and rape; harassment; marriage and divorce; childcare; nuclear arms; poverty; and sexism. Pertaining directly to NOW, the collection contains: documents from the 1970s and 1980s; do it NOW publications; NOW National Times publications; and documents on the local NOW chapter (Utica) and the Central New York chapter.
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The Oneida County Anti-Slavery Petition Collection contains digitized copies of petitions from the citizens of Oneida County’s townships to the United States government protesting the continuation and expansion of slavery. This collection includes local petitions from the towns of Annsville, Augusta, Ava, Camden, Clinton, Deerfield, Florence, Floyd, Holland Patent, Kirkland, Lee, Marcy, Marshall, New Hartford, New York Mills, Oneida, Paris, Rome, Sangerfield, Steuben, Trenton, Utica, Vernon, Verona, Vienna, Western, and Whitestown. From 1834 to 1854, these local petitions called for the end of slavery, the slave trade, and the institution’s expansion into the newly acquired Nebraska, Florida, and Texas territories. Additionally, the petitioners called for the reinstatement of the Missouri Compromise after its 1854 repeal in favor of the Kansas-Nebraska Act (1854). The original documents may be found at the National Archives in Washington D.C.
The Roberta Walsh Family Collection offers insight into life in Newport, New York and the upper Mohawk Valley during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Roberta’s mother, Barbara Seaton, was born in 1914 and attended the Rome Free Academy in Rome, New York. Her father, John Seaton, worked at Rome’s Revere Copper and Brass Company. Roberta’s uncle, Roger Burn, served in the Navy during World War II. His ship sank due to friendly fire and he is buried in Manila, Philippines. The collection also includes some artifacts from Roberta Wash’s grandfather, Antonio Abruzzo, who immigrated to Rome, New York from Italy. A family friend, Peter Marinaro, also came to Rome from Italy and was a close friend of the family. Both Antonio Abruzzo’s and Peter Marinaro’s stories offer a small look into immigration in the upper Mohawk Valley. Roberta collected a few Newport, New York area diaries that are also included in the collection. The diaries combined with the family papers grant a glimpse into life in the upper Mohawk Valley during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
This collection consist of newspaper clippings, photographs, documents, notes, letters, and financial information regarding planning reunions for the Rome Free Academy class of 1933. The collection also contains letters, photos, and information on Roger Burns’s military service. The collection contains photos, award buttons and pins, and certificates commemorating John Seaton’s work at Revere Brass and Copper Company. Also included are naturalization papers, passports, and alien registration cards from Antonio Abruzzo and Peter Marinaro. The collection contains three diaries and one day book from the Newport, New York area. Also included is a post card collection and plaque with the key to a family member’s coffin.
Founded in 1914, the Utica Zoo has served the region for over one hundred years. In 1909, Thomas R. Proctor set aside and donated the land where the Zoo sits in Utica’s Roscoe-Conkling Park. Proctor hired famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. to plan Roscoe Conkling Park’s roads and scenic walkways. The Utica Parks Department formerly operated the Zoo property until 1964, when the Utica Zoological Society formally inherited ownership of the site. In 1966, the group hired the Zoo’s first professional director, and one year later, the site opened the Children’s Zoo. The New York State Educational Department chartered the Zoological Society as an educational organization in 1968 and the site inaugurated its own education department in 1973. Builders completed the site’s first building (today’s Wildlife Building) in 1920, which houses the Zoo’s administrative offices and personnel, auditorium, reptile exhibits and the kitchen, while construction concluded on the building’s Animal Care Center in 1981. Oneida County provides the Zoo with annual support and an annual operating grant from the New York State Natural Heritage Trust, while the Zoological Society raises the remainder of the budget through admissions fees, society membership, special events, the gift shop, the Adopt an Animal program, animal feed sales, stroller rentals, pavilion rentals and donations. The Zoo remains an active institution in South Utica’s recreational complex.
The Utica Zoo Collection contains a plethora of newsletters, newspaper articles and clippings, photographs, and other assorted material relating to the history, development, and operation of the Utica Zoo. Included are several issues of the Zoo’s annual newsletters including the “Zootica” and “Zoo News” publications, as well as the more recent “Utica Zoo Newz” publication. These newsletters date from 1966 to 2015. The collection also contains six scrapbooks collated at the Zoo, which contain a variety of newspaper articles, clippings, and memorabilia relating to the Zoo’s past events and history. Lastly, four binders worth of photographs of Zoo personnel, animals, the complex itself, and past events are included.
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