QUEENSBURY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – What’s the best way to connect people with the local history around them? One is through museum exhibits, with well-researched displays and artifacts of times gone by. Another is by way of reenactments, using period-appropriate garb and an understanding of how a great battle played out.
A third way is in the pages of a book. A local history organization is taking that method into its own hands, one paperback spine at a time.
The Warren County Historical Society has announced the creation of a new publishing arm, Warren History Press, as a new way to bring a rich regional history – including the Battle of Lake George, former presidents, and the birth of American industry – to more people, through more works. In its infancy, the press is already in conversation with its first couple of authors – and has been spearheaded by someone who is himself no stranger to the world of writing about his home region.
“I’ve done 11 books on Troy alone, and could probably do another 11,” said Don Rittner, Executive Director of the society and the author of over 50 books, including 30 on Capital Region and North Country history. “I don’t think people realize that the greater Capital District area is where American history began.”
The upstate New York slice of American history has many roots. Lake George carries stories from the Revolutionary War and the French & Indian War, remembered today through the memorial of four unknown soldiers and the legacy of Fort William Henry.
That’s only the start. South of Warren County, Albany stands as one of the earliest cities founded by American colonists. Glens Falls has a storied history of logging industry, using the Hudson River to move goods along.
Rittner’s 30-ish history books are joined by three encyclopedias, and a book on how to use the internet for social causes in the early days of the online world. He’s not the only author at the Warren County Historical Society, either. The publishing arm is comprised of him and two others, requiring no new hires, and nothing but the experience and connections Rittner has been building since college.
So far, the society has been in conversation with the author of a book about Susan B. Anthony, whose childhood home still stands in the Washington County town of Greenwich. Another is a chronicler of Ian Fleming, the author behind the original “James Bond” novels, one of which has a connection to Lake George.
At the core of the project is a desire to amplify local history through writing. The world of publishing is a hard one, especially for writers exploring stories on a local scale.
“National publishers don’t want to look at that kind of thing,” said Rittner. “It’s not going to make money. We’d like the author and us to make some money, but more than that, we have great history – and one of the easiest ways for us to get that history out is in book form.”
Despite his own breadth of work, there are plenty of topics that Rittner says haven’t gotten as much focus as he would like. He would love to see, and publish, books on the local area’s Native American prehistory, sufferage movement, and the history of African American life and slavery throughout the North Country. His hope is to see the publishing arm put out three or four books per year.
Publishing is hard, but getting those books into hands is the easy part. Books published by Warren History Press will be on sale at the historical society, but also through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other outlets, with a focus on marketing through social media.
Those interested in working with the press, who either have a book idea or area already in the process, can reach out to Rittner at firstname.lastname@example.org, or society President Dr. Stan Cianfarano at email@example.com. The society can also be reached by phone at (518) 743-0734.