OSWEGO — Current research on refugees of the Fort Ontario Emergency Refugee Shelter and newly-acquired artifacts will be discussed on Wednesday, July 7, at the monthly “History on Tap” program at Steamer’s Restaurant in Oswego. Admission is free and open to the public.
The program begins at 7 p.m. The public is invited to purchase refreshments and learn about Oswego’s history.
Evelyn Fredericksen and Marilyn Huntingdon of the Safe Haven Holocaust Refugee Shelter Museum and Fort Ontario State Historic Site are conducting research and building up files on each of the approximately 1,000 Holocaust refugees who were interned at the Fort Ontario Emergency Refugee Shelter. They are actively collecting and seeking copies of documents, photographs, newspaper articles, and other materials for use in interpretive projects, exhibits, and publications.
Photographs of some of their discoveries will be displayed during the event. Fort Historian Corey King will also present images of shelter-related artifacts acquired by the Friends of Fort Ontario and donated to the collection of the state historic site.
“Fort Ontario in Oswego, NY was the only shelter for Holocaust refugees in the United States during World War II,” said Paul Lear, Fort Ontario State Historic Site Director. “It is where the Holocaust came to America; where everyday Americans first encountered a large group of victims of Nazi persecution and heard their personal stories of survival firsthand. It is where reporters finally found Holocaust stories they deemed worthy of headline coverage after years of burying them in the back pages of American newspapers.”
Fort Ontario is also considered by many to be the birthplace of American refugee policy because it is where the first group of undocumented refugees obtained asylum in the United States.
Steamer’s Restaurant is located at the Clarion Inn at 70 E. First St. (Route 481) in Oswego. For more information on History on Tap, contact Paul Lear at 315-343-4711 or Paul.Lear@parks.ny.gov. Updates and program information will be posted on the Friends of Fort Ontario Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/FortOntario. For more Oswego County history go to visitoswegocounty.com.