Charles Dickens Comes to GCC to Support History Club

Mike Randall presents “A Christmas Carol” at GCC!

Batavia, NY–  The Genesee Community College History Club is excited to kick off the holiday season as Charles Dickens, played by WKBW-TV’s Meteorologist Mike Randall, presents “A Christmas Carol.” All are invited to the College’s Batavia Campus on December 18, 2017 at 7 p.m. to enjoy this festive and heart-warming storytelling experience.

A multifaceted actor, Randall studied both theatre and meteorology in school and since 1983, Randall has reported the weather on WKBW-TV in Buffalo. An award-winning reporter, his interview repertoire includes such talents as Willie Nelson, Jerry Lewis, John Candy, Steve Allen, Gregory Peck and Robert Goulet. In September 2017, Randall was inducted into the Buffalo Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

Back in 1868, Charles Dickens toured the country bringing his classic novel, “A Christmas Carol” to audiences everywhere. Nearly century and a half ago, Dickens’ performances were completely sold out in Buffalo. For the last decade, with only a replica of Dickens’ famous velvet, fringed reading lectern and a copy of “A Christmas Carol,” Randall has been transforming himself into Dickens, recreating the original tour atmosphere in stages, halls, classrooms and many other venues. Randall performs in a period costume with a beard and wavy hair, and through his expert theatrics he brings Charles Dickens to life. He plays each of the novel’s characters with distinguishing voices and mannerisms capturing all of the subtle comedic timing of Dickens’ original work.

The performance will take place at GCC’s Batavia Campus in room T102 of the Conable Technology Building. Tickets for the performances are $15 in advance or $20 at the door. Advanced ticket purchases are strongly recommended as seating is limited!

Proceeds from the performance will go to the Genesee Community College History Club.

“Coordinating the event is part of the service learning experiences for GCC students and members of the College’s History Club,” Derek D. Maxfield, GCC’s associate history professor said. “This event is great opportunity for students to learn about the value of community engagement as well as history, and it is a terrific opportunity for local families and friends to enjoy a festive holiday event that is fun for all ages.”

To reserve tickets or more information, contact Associate Professor of History Derek D. Maxfield at (585) 343-0055 ext. 6288, or via email:

Presale tickets are also available from all History Club members and Florence Nolan in the Humanties Suite on the second floor at GCC.  She may be reached at (585) 343-0055 ext. 6270 or e-mail:


A “Rude”Awakening

Tracy and Me

A “rude”pair: Derek Maxfield (left) and Tracy Ford (right).

By Derek Maxfield

I can recall in November 2016 I had a very rude awakening when I realized the country had elected Him, who shall not be named. Very. Rude.

Now as we watch the leaves fall about a year later, a friend and myself are planning a different sort of rude awakening that will not traumatize the country (we hope). We are launching “Rudely Stamp’d: Historical impressions.”

My partner in this rude enterprise is Tracy Ford, an English professor at a small Western New York college where I teach history. With over 50 years teaching experience combined, we make quite the odd pair – though we have much in common, including a love for history and literature. We also believe that living history is a powerful way to educate. Now we want to launch a formal initiative to do just that.

Although we have each portrayed various individuals separately – I have been everything from a Jesuit priest to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant – we have an ambitious plan to create an imagined conversation between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, based entirely on their remarkable correspondence after they had retired from public service. A Kickstarter campaign will help us to realize that vision.  Anyone interested in helping out can visit our rude website:

Another potential project would be recreating the Lincoln-Douglas debates. By the way, have you noted the short guy/tall guy thing? Yep. On the short end of that stick, so to speak, it would be me as the short guy and Tracy as the tall one.

Keep an eye on us as we present ourselves to the world Rudely Stamp’d.

GCC History Club to sponsor local history conference

Local history conference set for November 4th

 BATAVIA – The Genesee Community College History Club and Genesee County Federation of Historical Agencies is sponsoring a local history conference at GCC in Batavia on Saturday, November 4th from 8:30 AM until about 3:30 PM in room T102 of the Conable Technology Building.  Public and private historians are welcome as well as history buffs of all ages.

“We have put together a day of interesting programs that should appeal to a wide variety of history-minded folk,” according to Derek Maxfield, history club advisor and president of the Genesee County Federation of Historical Agencies. “I am especially interested in the session on disaster planning and the panel discussion about the Confederate monument controversy.”

Conference sessions will include:

8:30-9:15 AM                     Coffee clutch

9:15-10:00 AM                   State of history in Genesee County

Dr. Michael Eula, Genesee County Historian

10:15-11:00 AM                  Tracing lineal heritage


11:00-12:15 PM                 Disaster planning for historical organizations and museums

Panel discussion

12:15-1:00 PM                   LUNCH

Room T119 A&B

1:15-2:30 PM                      Considering Confederate statues, memorials & symbols

Panel discussion moderated by Prof. Derek Maxfield


Historical agencies and museums are invited to set up displays for visitors to browse.

Registration is $25.00 and includes a box lunch.  If you wish to attend the sessions without lunch, the registration is $12.00.  Please indicate your sandwich preference when registering.  Registration will close at 11:59 PM on October 30th.  Those not wishing to have lunch may register the day of the event and pay at the door.

For the registration form, go to:

REGISTRATION for Local History Conference

For questions about the conference, contact Prof. Derek Maxfield – or call 585-343-0055 ext. 6288.

Cavalry lecture up next for Historical Horizons Lecture Series

Out Flew the Sabres

Author Daniel T. Davis will present a lecture about his latest book, Out Flew the Sabres: The Battle of Brandy Station – June 9, 1863, as part of the Historical Horizons Lecture Series on Wednesday, Oct. 4th at 7:00 PM at GCC in Batavia in room T102 of the Conable Technology Building.  You won’t want to miss this event.

One day. Fourteen hours. Twelve thousand Union cavalrymen against 9,000 of their Confederate counterparts―with three thousand Union infantry thrown in for good measure. Amidst the thunder of hooves and the clashing of sabers, they slugged it out across the hills and dales of Culpepper County, Virginia.

And it escalated into the largest cavalry battle ever fought on the North American continent.

Come hear the tale.  The event is FREE and open to the public.


Pulitzer Prize-winning author Heather Ann Thompson to speak at GCC TONIGHT

BATAVIA – The Fall 2017 Historical Horizons Lecture Series will kick-off TONIGHT with Dr. Heather Ann Thompson whose book won the Pulitzer Prize for history in 2017.  Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and its Legacy also secured the Bancroft Prize in American History and Diplomacy.

The event is FREE and open to the public.  Beginning at 7:00 PM, the program will take place in room T102 of the Conable Technology Building.  For more information, contact Prof. Derek Maxfield at or call 585-343-0055 ext. 6288.

The college bookstore will offer paperback copies of the book at the event at a special rate and Dr. Thompson will make herself available for autographing books after her presentation.

Historical Horizons Third Annual Lectures Series Announced

Fall Schedule Kicks Off with Pulitzer Prize Winning Author

Heather Ann Thompson

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Dr. Heather Ann Thompson

Batavia, NY– The History Club at Genesee Community College has announced the fall schedule for its upcoming Historical Horizons Lecture Series. The lineup of local historians and renowned authors will detail historical events, people and places that continue to impact our world today. The Historical Horizons Lecture Series begins in early September with an event that is part of the Genesee Community College’s 50th Anniversary celebration, and continues on the first Wednesday of each month through December 2017.

“This will be our third year presenting the Historical Horizons Lecture Series – an opportunity that started with the Civil War Commemoration events that brought history to life. Some of our region’s most dedicated historians continue to be involved through the lecture series,” Derek Maxfield, GCC’s associate professor said. “This is shaping up to be one of our best  lineups yet!”

GCC’s Fall 2017 semester lineup for the Historical Horizons speakers includes:

Tuesday, September 12, 2017, 7 p.m. / Batavia Campus / T102

  • Pulitzer Prize and Bancroft Prize winning author Dr. Heather Ann Thompson will cap off the College’s special Convocation Day, delivering a presentation, Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and its Legacy,” based on her award-winning book. The word “Attica” has meaning far beyond the reaches of New York State. It has, in fact, become synonymous with the infamous prison uprising there in 1971. While there have been other books about the frightful event, none have been considered the last word. Blood in the Water, however, is destined to become the definitive account of that awful chapter in local history. Utilizing sources available to no other researchers, Dr. Thompson was able to write a reliable account that upends myths and exposes cover-ups. You won’t want to miss this event!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017, 7 p.m. / Batavia Campus / T102

  • Daniel T. Davis will deliver his presentation, Out Flew the Sabres: The Battle of Brandy Station.” The largest cavalry battle of the Civil War took place at Brandy Station, Virginia. Initiated by the Union cavalry, the battle was ultimately a Confederate victory – or was it? The implications of the battle would prove to be far-reaching.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017, 7 p.m. / Batavia Campus / T102

  • In the last year of the American Civil War, there were a number of civilian efforts to broker a peace. One of those attempts came as the spring 1865 military campaign was preparing to kick off again. Join Dr. Terrianne Schulte of D’Youville College to learn more when she delivers, A ‘Visionary’ Plan? The Proposed March 1865 Peace Conference.”

Wednesday, December 6, 2017, 7 p.m. / Batavia Campus / T102

  • Orleans County Historian Matt Ballard will present, “Fear of the Unknown: Creating the Illegal Immigrant in 19th Century America.” The theme of immigration to the United States is a relative topic in current events, but the establishment of the “illegal immigrant” only dates back to the turn of the 20th In the earliest years of immigration, Europeans were accepted without restriction, but an influx of new immigrants during the latter half of the 19th century raised concerns about potential impacts on American society. Uncertainty and unfounded fears created excessive restrictions focused on limiting access to specific ethnic/racial groups, religious groups, the disabled, the infirmed, and those likely to become a “public charge.”

All lectures are free and open to the public, and take place in room T102 of the Conable Technology Building at 7 p.m. Professor Maxfield also encourages attendees to stay tuned for other lecture dates at Genesee Community College campus centers.

For more information go to: or contact Marketing Communications Associate Director Donna Rae Sutherland at (585) 343-0055 ext. 6616, or via email:


Dave Ruch to Perform at Epochs in Orleans


Teaching Artist and Performer Dave Ruch in concert

MEDINA – The 2nd annual Epochs in Orleans Timeline Festival, sponsored by the Genesee Community College history club, will take place Sept. 16 and 17 at the GCC Medina, NY, campus center.

Part of the Orleans County Heritage Festival, Epochs in Orleans will feature reenactors and impressionists from throughout American history, as well as informative lectures and demonstrations.  But the big news for this year is the signing of teaching artist Dave Ruch, who will perform a special concert program entitled “The War of 1812: Songs and Stories from NY and Beyond”on Saturday, Sept. 16th at 1:00 PM.

Dave Ruch is a special musician who sings and plays music for all ages on an intriguing assortment of instruments including mandolin, banjo, guitar, jaw harp, bones, spoons and more.  His concerts feature a warm rapport with audiences as well as good humor.

In this lecture/concert, Dave Ruch presents a fascinating portrait of the War of 1812 through the songs and stories of the people themselves. Ruch has dug deeply into archival recordings, diaries, old newspapers and other historical manuscripts to unearth a wealth of rarely-heard music which, together with stories and humor, offers a rounded and fascinating picture of this “second war of independence.”

Special emphasis can be given to New York State’s important role in the conflict.

For more information on Epochs in Orleans and the Orleans County Heritage Festival, go to:, visit us on Facebook, or contact Prof. Derek Maxfield at

“Adams and Jefferson: A Revolutionary Friendship” lecture set for Corning


Mark your calendars now for Sept. 30th at 2:00 PM at Southeast Steuben County Library in Corning, NY.

Prof. Derek Maxfield will illustrate the tight friendship between Founding Fathers John Adams and Thomas Jefferson and discuss the evolution of that bond, and how it was sorely tested during a time of intense partisanship. Once both men had retired from public life, the friendship was renewed. It is a touching story. Come hear all the details of this remarkable story.




Pulitzer Prize winner added to GCC speaker series

Heather Ann Thompson

Dr. Heather Ann Thompson


BATAVIA — Genesee Community College has landed a Pulitzer Prize winner for its Historical Horizons lecture series.

Author Heather Ann Thompson will lead a discussion on her book, “Blood in the Water,” at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 12, in Room T-102 at the school’s Batavia campus.

Released last year, “Blood in the Water” is Thompson’s exposé on the 1971 Attica Prison riot. It won the Pulitzer Prize for History in April.

It is a major get for the school.

“I have known about this book for years, even before it was published,” said associate professor of history Derek Maxfield, who organizes the lecture series. “I had reached out to her when the book was released and told her how much I liked it. Then I congratulated her when she won the Pulitzer. I also told her I would love have her come in if she was ever in the area. Finally, we were able to work out a date this fall.”

Thompson spent 13 years researching the riot before finally writing her book. Part of the reason it took so long was that she waited until certain government documents were made available after being classified for decades.

In her book, Thompson revealed previously unreported details, including the names of state police officers who allegedly committed crimes in the riot but were never indicted.

“Since the book has come out, it’s been really incredible that so many people have read it and the response that has come to me has been overwhelmingly positive,” Thompson told The Daily News in April.

The book, of course, has local interest despite its controversial subject.

“There have been a lot of books about the riot, but I believe this is the first in-depth report by a historian,” Maxfield said. “As a historian myself, that appealed to me. It’s a very balanced and well-researched approach to the story. I’m sure it makes some people feel uncomfortable, because it’s an ugly story. There are still people who lived through it in the area. I have a lot of students who have parents who work at the prison, so this will have local interest for sure.”

For Maxfield, the book and the author’s visit hold even more significance, since he previously taught classes in the prison. It was an experience he called “eye-opening.”

“Your whole outlook changes a lot when you go into that atmosphere and see what kind of life the prisoners have,” he said. “You have an abstract view of it unless you see it for yourself.”

Maxfield added that he hopes this presentation will lead to a discussion about incarceration.

“We send too many people to prison and don’t work hard enough at rehabilitation,” he said. “Certainly there are violent criminals there who should be punished. But we throw these people away and feel they can’t be redeemed or rehabilitated.”

Thompson is not the first Pulitzer Prize winner to take part in the Historical Horizons lecture series. Eric Foner took part in the 2016 series. His book, “The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery,” won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for History.

2017 Orleans County Heritage Heroes Award Ceremony TONIGHT

Ceremony Recognizing Winners to be held May 5th at GCC’s Medina Campus Center

Medina, NY – Now in its fourth year, the Orleans County Heritage Heroes Awards were created in 2014 as a way to recognize the efforts of those who give their time, hard work and resources to preserve and protect local heritage. Often unnoticed, the efforts of those honored help to ensure that the history of Orleans County will be passed to the next generation.

The 2017 class of Heritage Heroes will be recognized in a ceremony at Genesee Community College’s Medina Campus Center in Medina, NY, on Friday, May 5th at 7 p.m.  According to Derek Maxfield, associate professor of history at GCC and a member of the executive committee that chooses the winners, “It is vitally important that we take the time to honor these deserving folks. Not only does it shine a spotlight on their efforts, but it reminds us that it is up to us – the living generation – to take the steps necessary to preserve our heritage for future generations.”

This year’s Orleans County Heritage Heroes are:

Jim Hancock has always been preservation minded and is a very high profile advocate for Orleans County history and culture. As president of the Medina Sandstone Society, Jim has had some pretty big shoes to fill with the passing of Bob Waters. One of the originators of the society, Jim has been instrumental in the creation of the Sandstone Hall of Fame. Jim has also been a major force in the creation of the John Ryan School of Historical Excellence at Medina Central School. As the former chairman of the Erie Canal Task Force and the present leader of the Christmas Parade of Lights and leadership in the Medina Tourism Committee, one has to wonder if this man ever sleeps.

Ken McPherson personifies what it means to be a Heritage Hero as gregarious keeper of the flame.  A graduate and advocate for the Charles Howard Santa School, “No one has done more to keep Charlie Howard’s legacy alive in his hometown,” according to Phil Wenz when he presented Ken with the Charles W. Howard Award in 2015. A thirty year veteran Santa Claus, Ken has amassed an impressive collection of Howard memorabilia and is on the committee to erect a memorial to Howard in downtown Albion.

Richard and Shirley Nellist work as a team, and they have painstakingly prepared detailed records for the eleven cemeteries in the Town of Ridgeway – over 11,000 burials all told, which are now loaded into the Orleans County Genweb system online and available for anyone doing genealogical research. Active members of the Medina Historical Society, Richard and Shirley have both served on the Board of Trustees.

Gretchen Sepik brings history to life with her engaging and inspirational portrayals of Erie Canal Sal, Susan B. Anthony, Mary Jemison and Beatrix Potter. In 2009, the Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council awarded Gretchen a grant to adapt her character Erie Canal Sal into a children’s book. As it is the 200th anniversary of the building of the Erie Canal, it only seems appropriate to honor Gretchen for her work educating young people about “Clinton’s Ditch.”

The C.W. “Bill” Lattin Award for Excellence in Municipal History will be awarded to Alice Zacher.  As historian for the Town of Shelby from 1981 to 1995 and 2006 to the present, Alice is a true inspiration and a tireless advocate of local heritage. In 2012, Alice published “Slate Boards and Hot Soup: A History of One-Room Schoolhouses in the Town of Shelby.” Through this she not only did her part to preserve the history and culture of the one room schoolhouses, but she donated all of the proceeds to the Millville Cemetery. Clearly, another of her passions, Alice has worked to raise funds to preserve the chapel at the cemetery, secured a historic marker from the Pomeroy Foundation, and took the lead in getting the cemetery on the National Register of Historic Places. An active member of the Medina Historical Society, Alice is presently cataloging artifacts donated to the society.

Those selected as Heritage Heroes could be of any age but had to be living residents of Orleans County. No posthumous nominations were accepted. History professionals and GCC employees were also not eligible for the award, nor were those serving on the award selection committees. The selection committees were made up of staff and students of Genesee Community College, community members and history professionals.

The award ceremony on Friday, May 5, 7 p.m. is at GCC’s Medina Campus Center located at 11470 Maple Ridge Road, Medina, NY 14103. The event is open to the public, but seating is limited. A reception will follow the ceremony featuring light refreshments.

For more information on the awards or the ceremony, contact Jim Simon at or Prof. Derek Maxfield at or by calling the Medina Campus Center at 585-798-1688.