2009, Volume 21, Issue 1

The Long Island History Journal — a Mission Expanded

In his recent call for placing United States history in a global context, Peter Stearns offered the observation that “the global is often more local than we imagine, and vice versa,” recalling the oft-quoted comment by former Speaker of the House Thomas P. (“Tip”) O’Neill, that “all politics is local.”

As one who has spent his professional life teaching at the secondary and university levels, Long Island’s history has often served as a wonderful stepping-stone for instruction in United States history and global history. The rich heritage of this large island offers a unique opportunity to employ local history in addressing issues on the national and international stage.

The Founding Editor of the Long Island Historical Journal, Roger Wunderlich, certainly understood the larger implications of Long Island’s history. In his editorial comment in the inaugural issue of the LIHJ in 1988, he announced his intention to look at “Long Island as America,” drawing upon the history of Brooklyn, Nassau, Queens and Suffolk to accomplish this goal. With this new incarnation of the LIHJ, we expand his goal to embrace global events.

The articles in this first online issue of the Long Island History Journal underscore this enhanced mission. Our publisher and Editor at Large, Wolf Schäfer, sets the conceptual stage using a letter written by Albert Einstein (summering in what is now Cutchogue) to illustrate the intersection of global, national and local history. Joshua Ruff, Associate Editor, offers historical perspective on recent tensions on Long Island involving undocumented day laborers. Joseph Tiedemann’s article on Thomas Jones, a loyalist in the era of the American Revolution, examines the plight of a Long Island man of privilege confronted with the realities of a more democratic society. Frank Cavaioli traces the chartering of a prominent area educational institution in response to the area’s changing economic needs. Neil Buffett studies high school students organizing to call attention to environmental conservation, while Associate Editor Noel Gish profiles Lee Koppelman, whose important work as a planner in Nassau and Suffolk Counties spanned several decades and whose Center for Regional Policy Studies was the previous publisher of the LIHJ. This article serves as a companion piece to video excerpts from an interview with Koppelman, which inaugurates what will be an on-going feature of the LIHJ.

While the review section has already made the transition to the online LIHJ, in future issues we will be inviting you to visit the eMuseum and participate in virtual tours of prominent exhibitions at area museums. Additionally, our resources section will serve as a portal to area museums, historical sites, and organizations addressing the multifaceted aspects of Long Island history. This section will expand to include resources on the use of local history to teach national and global history.

We invite you to explore our first online issue and return for subsequent visits as the LIHJ continues into its third decade and builds upon the mission of its Founding Editor.

Charles Backfish
Editor in Chief