Public lectures have been and continue to be an important part of my goal to preserve, promote, and publish topics of local history. The stories that I have learned from history’s unexpected events have paved a path for me, yet I always wish to call others to join me as an audience in learning about our shared past.
Starting in 2013, I gave my first program on the Erie Railroad’s Newburgh Shortcut—a partially-abandoned railroad line that ran through my hometown of Central Valley, New York. This first lecture drew a surprisingly large audience and, since then, I have given more than thirty programs on topics of local history for both historical societies and regional organizations. In some cases, these presentations have directly influenced my interests in other areas such as writing and publishing. This transition can be seen well through my program Orange County’s Dairies and Their Milk Bottles, which I debuted in 2015 before the Hudson Valley Bottle Club. The audience was composed largely of fellow antique bottle collectors and, using the entirety of my milk bottle collection at the time as the visual element for my program, it was successful. However, as I began to present this particular lecture before historical societies with audiences that were not as knowledgeable about antique bottles, it became obvious that I needed to learn more about the dairy farms themselves.
This initiated a period of research into discovering how Orange County, New York once stood at the forefront of producing and marketing fluid milk–a revelation that added valuable details to my existing program and also led to the creation of an article in Marist College’s peer-reviewed Hudson River Valley Review titled “When Steel Rails, Glass Bottles, and Fresh Cream Ruled The Country: Orange County’s Role in the Birth of Transporting and Marketing Milk” (Spring 2020). With this being one of my first pivotal publications, a close relationship between research, writing, and lecturing has developed which not only improved the content of my programs but has also stimulated my passion as an author. To date, my work has been published eight times since that 2020 article on milk transportation and, since 2013, I have lectured more than forty times on topics of local history. My programs generally feature two facets for the audience to experience. The first is a powerpoint presentation that often features images, period newspaper articles or text, and audio recordings as well as videos to accompany this material. In addition, I generally bring a small collection of artifacts relevant to the program (for instance, when presenting on Orange County’s Dairies and Their Milk Bottles, I bring a collection of milk bottles relevant to the location of the program). My goal with these two facets is to immerse the audience as best as possible into the period of history in question so they are given a better understanding of the past.
Here are some samples of topics that I currently share with the public. Please note that I always have new concepts for lectures in development and always enjoy working with organizations that suggest new topics.
- Luis Moses Gomez: Three Centuries of History in New York’s Hudson Valley
- Orange County’s Dairies and Their Milk Bottles
- Stone Arches, Rock Cuts, and a Trip to the Summit: The Story of E. H. Harriman’s Incline Railroad
- The Art of Antique Bottle Detecting
- The Erie Railroad’s Newburgh Branch—Through the Color Photographs of Dennis Carpenter and Russ Hallock
- The Erie Railroad’s Newburgh Shortcut: Then and Now
- The Rondout Valley’s Glassy Past: The Ellenville Glass Works, a Forgotten Hudson Valley Industry
- Through Bailey’s Lens, Part One: The Erie Railroad’s Mainline in Orange County, NY Through the Photographs of James E. Bailey
- Through Bailey’s Lens, Part Two: The Erie Railroad’s Branchlines in Orange County, NY Through the Photographs of James E. Bailey
- From City to Country: A Journey Along the Erie Railroad’s Pine Bush Branch
Please see the following videos for information on some of my presentations:
Orange County’s Dairies and Their Milk Bottles:
Join Alex Prizgintas as he uncovers Orange County, New York’s role in the American consumer use of fluid milk. Where many may speculate that these dairy products were solely popular due to the region’s superior agricultural landscape, history has instead shown that Orange County stood at the forefront of transporting and marketing fluid milk in the nineteenth century. Individuals instrumental in this creamy saga, from Erie Railroad station agent Thaddeus Selleck who first shipped milk by rail in 1842 to milk can pioneer Jacob Vail and the early milk bottle user Alexander Campbell all either were situated or had close connections to Orange County. The results of their efforts gave birth to the golden age of Orange County’s agriculture–one that fueled over 4,000 farms of all kinds by 1884 and kept dairy farms prospering into the mid-twentieth century. Alex is a graduate of Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY where he studied Hudson River Valley History. A life-long resident of Orange County, he has given more than thirty programs over the past eight years in the tri-state area on various genres of local industrial history. Additionally, Alex has been published on topics covering Orange County’s dairy industry, local railroad lines, and the Ellenville Glass Works.
The Art of Antique Bottle Detecting with Alex & Viktor Prizgintas
Have you ever come across that lone bottle residing on your kitchen shelf or living room counter begging to tell a story? Today, it is often forgotten how glass bottles were once a primary method of storing and transporting substances of all kinds. Join Alex and Viktor Prizgintas as they discuss the fundamentals behind dating and identifying antique bottles. Alex has been collecting bottles from the Hudson Valley for over ten years and served as president of the Hudson Valley Bottle Club from 2018 to 2020. His research on local bottles and bottle history has been published in the Antique Bottle & Glass Collector magazine as well as Marist College’s Hudson River Valley Review journal. “Alex and Viktor Prizingtas truly know how to tease the story out of a bottle,” says Diane Lapis, president of the Beacon Historical Society where this lecture was presented in March of 2022. “The Art of Bottle Detecting helps the viewer to understand markings on bottles and put them into historical context. You will never look at a bottle in the same way again: marks, dips, seams, and colors come alive after this succinct and interesting discussion.”
Luis Moses Gomez: Three Centuries of History in New York’s Hudson Valley
The Hudson Valley fostered numerous celebrated events in history, but one era of transformation is often overlooked. Contrasting the region’s seventeenth-century settlements which were defined by ethnic, religious, and cultural identities, the eighteenth-century market revolution influenced these communities with evolving commercial forces. The development of transportation on the Hudson River and the growth of New York City as a center of trade linked local residents to the burgeoning Atlantic market. Regional farmers and artisans, however, often lacked the finances and influence to become directly engaged in these lucrative ventures, so instead, they consigned their wares through well-established intermediary merchants. One of these businessmen was Luis Moses Gomez, a Jewish refugee who was a member of New York City’s Shearith Israel congregation. Expanding his business interests northward in 1716, Gomez purchased land in Marlboro, New York, where he occupied this important intermediary role between local residents and the expanding market revolution. Gomez’s position in this changing society, as well as the three centuries of history endured by his Hudson Valley property known today as the Gomez Mill House, are extraordinary lenses through which socioeconomic and cultural advancements in the Hudson Valley can be observed.
If you wish to book me for a local history lecture or are wondering if I present on a specific topic, please fill out the information below and I will respond at my earliest convenience: