History Alliance of Kingston: The Origin Story

History Alliance of Kingston Zoom screen
History Alliance of Kingston at their weekly virtual meeting.

It was an idea kicking around in Henry’s mind for a few years. (There’d been a version of it at some point in the past.) But it wasn’t until he met Sarah at a Karaoke event that it came together.

As one member observed, “It’s as if we said, ‘Let’s put on a musical’.” So we brought together composers, choreographers, musicians, singers and dancers who all had an interest in history.

Thus, the History Alliance of Kingston (HAK) came to be.

With a series of meetings that began, and continue, on Zoom we accomplished a great deal in a fairly short period of time. As a group, we developed Community Agreements that guide the way in which we conduct meetings, the way in which we develop plans and programs, and our decision-making process.

Though we now have two working groups, one that is focused on public facing projects and another focused on the history of Kingston and the Hudson Valley, the initial work was developed by the full group; thereby drawing upon the vast and various experience and expertise of each member.

We established the mission: To bring local history to life for people of all ages through events and activities that reflect and promote a deeper understanding of the diverse social and cultural history of the Hudson Valley.

We defined our goals, which may be found here, and we brainstormed and developed an inaugural event that would engage the Kingston community while introducing folks to and building awareness of HAK.

HAK’s first outing was the Hudson Valley History Hunt, in which people were encouraged to learn more about local history by participating in scavenger hunts that could be completed outdoors or online. (The Hunt is still in play here, if you would like to play.)

The speed with which we established this collaboration and deployed our first initiative was driven by necessity. In the midst of the pandemic – because each of our organizations was compelled to rethink the way in which we engaged with the community, and was pivoting to develop digital content and establish a strong virtual presence – we set out to accomplish, as a group, much more than we could individually.

HAK membership is diverse, including people specializing in the fields of curation, education, exhibit design, marketing, etc. who are historians. As a group, we are exploring the opportunities that history provides to enhance everyone’s connection with the area in which we live and the people in our communities.

We hope you’ll follow our journey by checking out our biweekly articles here at the Kingston Wire. We will be covering a variety of subjects, from local events that celebrate the rich history of the Hudson Valley to think pieces that advance a deeper understanding of our place in and contributions to the historical narrative.

History is memory and shared experience. It is thought-provoking. It is both serious and fun. It is accessible. It is created daily, by actions and activities that are both large and small.

History is made by us all and belongs to us all.

Let’s continue to make history together!

by Troy Ellen Dixon, African Roots Center
published in the Kingston Wire on January 25, 2021