Episode 035: Michael Lord, Historic Hudson Valley & Washington Irving

Portrait of Washington Irving
Washington Irving, 1809

Washington Irving was an historian and writer. Some historians and biographers have called him the first great American author.

Today, Michael Lord, Director of Education at Historic Hudson Valley, joins us to explore the life of Washington Irving, his home, Sunnyside, and the historic Hudson Valley region he immortalized in stories such as Diedrich Knickerbocker’s History of New York, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” and “Rip Van Winkle.”


About the Show

Ben Franklin’s World is a podcast about early American history.

It is a show for people who love history and for those who want to know more about the historical people and events that have impacted and shaped our present-day world.

Each episode features a conversation with an historian who helps us shed light on important people and events in early American history.

Episode Summary

IMichael Lordn this episode, Michael Lord, the Director of Education at Historic Hudson Valley, takes us on a virtual tour of Historic Hudson Valley's six historic sites.

During our tour, Michael reveals information about Historic Hudson Valley, a museum of historic sites in Westchester County, New York; Details about the landholding system of colonial New York; and information about Washington Irving and the important role his literary works have played in how we remember and think about the Hudson Valley region and its history.


What You’ll Discover

  • Information about Historic Hudson Valley, a network of historic sites in and around Westchester County, New York
  • How Historic Hudson Valley defines the Hudson Valley region
  • Overview of the history of the Tappan Zee area of New York
  • Philipsburg Manor
  • Van Cortlandt Manor
  • Sunnyside, the estate of Washington Irving
  • The tenant/farmer landholding system of Colonial New York
  • Wealthy Hudson Valley landholders’ use of slaves
  • How slaves of the Hudson Valley lived and how their lives differed from their counterparts on southern plantations
  • What you will see when you visit the Philipsburg and Van Cortlandt manor estates
  • Details about Washington Irving and his literary accomplishments
  • Washington Irving’s Diedrich Knickerbocker’s History of New York and how it influences the way we remember the history of the Hudson Valley and colonial New York
  • Details about Washington Irving’s short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”
  • Whether the television show Sleepy Hollow has any connection with Historic Hudson Valley
  • What Sunnyside tells us about Washington Irving
  • Special events offered each year at Historic Hudson Valley
Washington Irving's Sunnyside, courtesy of Historic Hudson Valley


Links to People, Places, and Publications


Time Warp PlainTime Warp Question

In your opinion what might have happened if Washington Irving had not written Knickerbocker’s History of New York, “Rip Van Winkle,” or “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow?” Would the way we remember the history of the Hudson Valley, its Dutch inhabitants, and the history of New York State be different? If so, how?


Questions, Comments, Suggestions

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Get in Touch! Send me an e-mail, tweet, or leave a comment.



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