The year 2026 will mark the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, the foundational document of the revolution that occurred between 1774 and 1783 and resulted in the creation of the United States of America. What is now the State of New York played an immense and vital role in both the Revolutionary Era and the subsequent 250 years of American history. Planning for such an important commemoration in a comprehensive way at the local, regional, and/or state level can be a daunting task. Because of this, the Association of Public Historians of New York State (APHNYS) has partnered with the Office of State History at the New York State Museum to produce the New York State 250th Commemoration Field Guide which provides suggested commemorative themes, ideas, and information to help planners at the local and regional level in all parts of the state.
On February 24, 2022, Governor Kathy Hochul signed into law the “New York State 250th Commemoration Act,” establishing a state commission to facilitate the planning and development of the commemoration of the 250th in New York State. This bill was introduced in the State Assembly by Assembly member Carrie Woerner and in the State Senate by Senator Shelley B. Mayer and passed both houses of the legislature unanimously. The 250th Commemoration Act draws particular notice to the potential of the 250th commemoration to consider both the complexity of the American Revolution itself and the continuing struggle to achieve the ideals of the Revolution that at the time excluded a large portion of the population.
We ask you to consider each of the themes in this field guide as suggestions for how your community or organization can begin to think about commemorating the 250th anniversary of the founding of this nation. Each local community and region of the state has its own unique story to tell which together tell the history of the state itself. We urge you to take this once per half-century opportunity to help tell that history so that it may be preserved for the coming centuries.
We will keep you posted as the commemoration moves forward.