Are you ready? Millard Fillmore’s birthday, January 7

January 6, 2010

Millard Fillmore turns 210 tomorrow.

Millard Fillmore in the 1850s, NY Times image, Wikimedia

Millard Fillmore in the 1850s, wondering about that birthday cake. Wikimedia, via New York Times image

How do you plan to celebrate?

Some are planning big fetes:

From 10:00AM to 3:00PM on Sun Jan 10, 2010.

Save the date! Cayuga-Owasco Lakes Historical Society will once again host a birthday party for Millard Fillmore on Sunday, January 10 from 10:00am to 3pm. The history museum at 14 West Cayuga Street will be open for visitors and will serve refreshments in honor of our 13th President’s birthday. This will be the last official function until March, 2010. Throughout December the house will be open on Mondays 9:00 am until noon. If you have not visited lately, the recently refurbished Fillmore Room features a timeline of his life and presidency as well as photos and memorabilia.  (From

Tradition is on a glide path at the University of Buffalo, a school founded by Millard Fillmore; from the UB Media Center:

Media Advisory: UB to Commemorate 210th Birthday of Millard Fillmore

Release Date: January 6, 2010

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The University at Buffalo will uphold a longstanding winter tradition as it celebrates the 210th anniversary of the birth of Millard Fillmore, UB’s first chancellor and the 13th president of the United States, at a ceremony to be held at 10 a.m. Jan. 7 at Fillmore’s gravesite in Forest Lawn Cemetery.

The outdoor ceremony marking the 210th anniversary of Fillmore’s birth on Jan. 7, 1800, is hosted by UB, the Forest Lawn Group and the Buffalo Club. It is free and open to the public.

The commemoration address will be delivered by James A. Willis, UB executive vice president for university support services. Wreaths will be presented by Col. Timothy G. Vaughn, 107th Mission Support Group Commander, New York Air National Guard, representing the White House; Marc Adler, adjunct professor in Millard Fillmore College and immediate past president of the UB Alumni Association, representing UB; Charles M. Mitschow, president of the Buffalo Club; and Dean H. Jewett, chairman of the board of the Forest Lawn Group.

The invocation will be presented by The Rev. Joel Miller, minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Buffalo. The UB Police Color Guard will present the flags, and West Richter, a UB student and member of the UB Marching Band, will play taps.

A reception with refreshments will immediately follow in the Forest Lawn Chapel.

Fillmore helped establish UB, serving as its first chancellor from 1847 until his death in 1874. He also was instrumental in framing the charter transforming the Village of Buffalo into the City of Buffalo. He helped establish Buffalo General Hospital, the SPCA, the Buffalo Historical Society, the Fine Arts Academy, Buffalo Savings Bank, Buffalo’s public library system and the Buffalo Club. As a congressman, he secured funding to enlarge the Buffalo Harbor and expand the Erie Canal. Fillmore served as president from 1850 to 1853.

This year marks the 45th anniversary of UB’s stewardship of Fillmore’s service, but the tradition to honor Fillmore dates back to 1937. From 1937 until 1965, the ceremonies were staged by the City of Buffalo and the Buffalo Board of Education. The events were administered by Irving R. Templeton, a 1909 graduate of UB, who scheduled two programs annually on or near Jan. 7, one in City Hall and one in Forest Lawn.

The responsibility shifted to UB when Templeton died in 1965. Although UB participated in the Fillmore birthday commemoration during Templeton’s stewardship, the university took over the ceremonies and made it a community event starting in 1966.

Media arrangements: Charles Anzalone onsite at 440-8824.

According to Buffalo Rising!, tradition wins out at Forest Lawn, New York, too:

By Sandy Starks

Okay… the frenzy of holiday visits and activities are past, the decorations are put away, and the final game in regular season football has been played. The winter doldrums are about to set in, and what are we to do?

The Forest Lawn Cemetery Heritage Foundation has come up with programming that will help you get over the inevitable winter blues. We all love the Summer in the Cemetery tours the cemetery offered each year, so in 2010 the folks at Forest Lawn have decided to celebrate the winter season by hosting a four-part series of concerts and lectures to be held at the historic chapel, located in the heart of the cemetery.

On the second Sunday of each month, January through April, at 2PM, programs will include a mini concert, followed by a lecture on a topic related to Forest Lawn and the History of Buffalo. This Sunday January 10th, the topic will be The History of Music in Buffalo.

Music Librarian, Raya Lee, teams up with one of Buffalo’s favorite musical talents, Bruce Woody, to discuss how music evolved in Buffalo. The lecture includes information about the opening of the first music store in 1827, the first performance of super-star Jenny Lind in 1851, an overview featuring the greatest musical artists of the day, their stories, and the birth of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.

People featured in the lecture include Millard Fillmore, James P. Sheppard, owner of the first music store in Buffalo; Marian de Forest, Zorah Berry, and conductors John Lund and Charles Kuhn. Tunes, some we are familiar with such as “Shuffle off to Buffalo,” “Buffalo Gals,” and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” (Harold Arlen), will be played throughout the lecture.

The series continues with a program on February 14th, with The Entertainers and Writers of Forest Lawn, presented by: Forest Lawn researcher, Patrick Kavanagh with a musical presentation performed by Buffalo musicians Billy McEwen and Joe Head.

Many of us know about Darwin Martin of the Larkin Soap Company but there is much to know about John Larkin and the company itself. The March 14th program, A Review of the Larkin Soap Company – A Man and His Products will familiarize us the dynamic Buffalo business. Larkin Enthusiast Jerry Puma will talk about the Larkin Soap Company and bring some of his Larkin collection for you to view. A musical presentation by The Docenko Brothers rounds out this fun yet informative day.

The series concludes on April 11th, with a talk by Author Laura Pederson (if you haven’t read the book Buffalo Gal yet, that is another way to beat the winter blues), talking about Smokestacks & Skyscrapers: A Lighthearted History of Buffalo. The musical presentation will be by Grace Stumberg, a rising Buffalo musical talent and student at Villa Maria College.

Admission is $15. Tickets may be purchased at Forest Lawn’s administration office, 1411 Delaware Avenue or by calling 716.885.1600. Ask about the discount that is available for all four programs.

Texas social studies standards: Crisis is now

January 6, 2010

How bad is it?  Washington Monthly features a solid, long story on what is going on in Austin this week and next in Texas social studies standards.  I wish that outstanding publication had a much greater circulation.

Even in Minnesota, P. Z. Myers is concerned:  “Be afraid” he warns his readers.  In comments there, a guy named BlackWolf puts it bluntly:

Once, a guy in a schoolbook storage room was the killer.

Now, the books themselves are becoming dangerous.

You can help.  You can testify next week.  You can send comments.  The Texas Freedom Network can help you be heard.

Please let the State Board of Education know that Texas, and the nation, needs good social studies standards.  As we noted last month, it’s time to stand up for education and social studies:

Make Your Voice Heard at January Public Hearing

The process of revising social studies curriculum standards for Texas public schools is moving into a critical stage. And a public hearing the board has scheduled for January may be the only opportunity for you to speak out against the far right’s efforts to corrupt standards for history, government and other social studies classes.

The final drafts of the proposed standards prepared by writing teams made up of teachers, academics and other community members are reflective of mainstream academic scholarship in the various subject areas. It is clear that members of these writing teams largely resisted intense political pressure from far right, rejecting attempts to remove key civil rights figures and make other politically motivated revisions. (See the Background section at the bottom of this e-mail for a more detailed account of the politicization of this curriculum process.)

But as with science and language arts, far-right SBOE members are already plotting to undo the work of the writing teams of social studies.

Take Action

The State Board of Education so far has scheduled only one public hearing on the proposed standards. That hearing is likely to occur either on January 13 or January 14 in Austin.

If you are interested in speaking at the hearing, please click here. TFN will help you register to speak before the board and be an effective voice against efforts to politicize our children’s classrooms.

This may be the only opportunity the board provides for Texans to speak out on the proposed standards. If we are to prevent far-right SBOE members from turning social studies classrooms into tools for promoting political agendas, then it’s critical that the board hears from people like you! Click here to sign up for more information on how to testify in January.


Background on Social Studies Review Process to Date

Earlier this year, TFN exposed and derailed several attempts by the far right to hijack the social studies curriculum revision process. Members of the state board – or their appointees to review panels and writing teams – tried at various times to:

  • Remove civil rights champions like César Chávez and Thurgood Marshall from the standards, calling them poor examples of citizenship
  • Turn Joseph McCarthy – who discredited himself and dishonored Congress with his infamous Red-baiting smear campaign in the 1950s – into an American hero
  • Rewrite history and portray America’s Founders as intending to establish a Christian nation with laws based on a fundamentalist reading of the Bible

Members of the writing teams largely rejected these fringe ideas in the final drafts of the standards they submitted to the board. Chávez and Marshall remain in the curriculum. The American history standards do not whitewash the damaging history of McCarthyism. And under the proposed standards students would still learn that the Founders created a nation in which all people are free to worship – or not – as they choose without coercion or interference by government.

We must ensure that the board adopts curriculum standards that reflect mainstream academic scholarship in social studies. This is vitally important because the results of this decision will be reflected in the next generation of social studies textbooks around the country.

Click here to let TFN know you are willing to testify at the state board.

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