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January 2004


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Patrick McGreevy <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
A LISTSERV list for discussions pertaining to New York State history." <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 13 Jan 2004 18:16:42 -0500
text/plain (88 lines)

The burned-over district refers to the region through which the Erie Canal
flows.  It originated during the intense period of religious ferment during
the 1820, 30s, and 40s.  The most famous single event was the Finney
revival in Rochester.  It was, from the start, a metaphor for spiritual
fires that swept through the region, felling many sinners.  More broadly,
it refers also to the beginning of spiritualism in Rochester, the birth of
religious and social movements and even new religions (Mormonism), and is
closely related to the progressive reforms that also began (or were very
pronounced) in this area: the women's rights movement, temperance,
abolition.  The population of the area at the time was overwhelmingly
Yankee, and the Yankee stream of migration continued west of Buffalo to
Cleveland, Michigan and Chicago.  Whitney Cross wrote a book called the
Burned-Over District in the 1950s.

Patrick McGreevy

At 12:52 PM 1/11/2004 -0500, you wrote:
>2004 Greetings,
>Just got the following query (I'm deleting the '&nbsp's ) from a friend on
>Cape Cod. Think I answered the first part adequately. As to the second
>part, anyone care to speculate on the women and men's shared experience as
>a basis for their actions? I'll pass along any responses to my up-wester
>David Minor
>"I have just finished a (nonfiction) book by James Gilbert entitled Perfect
>Cities: Chicago's Utopias of 1893. In its pages I ran across several
>references to the origins of many of Chicago's 1893 elite as deriving from
>"the Burned-Over District" of upstate New York, including Oneida County,
>Rochester, etc. Apparently this common geographical background engendered a
>cohesion that led to the massive cooperative effort which made possible the
>Chicago World's Fair. As Gilbert puts it: "Besides the uprooting experience
>of moving from upstate New York and Massachusetts to Chicago, this
>generation of embers from the Burned-Over District shared a similar rise to
>leadership In Chicago's business, social and cultural worlds. By 1893 they
>had moved to the forefront of Chicago's new and raw elite: a second
>generation of institution builders and city boosters but a first generation
>of enormous fortunes.
>Query: Whence came the name (what got burned over and when)? And if you can
>answer that, tackle this: what in these men's shared experience prompted
>them to rise to such heights?"
>David Minor
>Eagles Byte Historical Research
>Pittsford, New York
>585 264-0423
>'dminor' 'at symbol' 'eznet.net'
>Visit the Canal Society of New York State page at http://www.canalsnys.org/
>To be put on the mailing list for the weekly TimeMaster radio scripts
>(WXXI-FM 91.5), as well as a Quote of the Week and a URL of the Week,
>e-mail me at the address above.
>includes NYNY, a series of timelines covering New York City and State, from
>approximately 1,100,000,000 BC to 1991 AD.
>"I would undertake to supply your demands if your generosity is equal to
>        -John Bartram, U. S. naturalist
Patrick McGreevy
Department of Anthropology, Geography and Earth Science
Clarion University
Clarion, PA 16214

Fax 814-2393-2004

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