Friday June 3, 2016 from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM EDT
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University Club of Albany 
141 Washington Avenue
University Club of Albany
Albany, NY 12210

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Ellen Dragonette 
University Club of Albany Foundation 

6th Annual Pinkster Celebration 

Award-winning journalist and author Scott Christianson will discuss New York’s history of slavery and abolitionism through the life of a man known only as “Caesar,” who is buried in the cemetery of the Nicoll-Sill House in Bethlehem. Cocktail reception with light fare and cash bar from 6 – 7:00 p.m., presentation at 8, after-party from 8 - 10.

In the spring of 1811, the Albany Common Council banned Pinkster Day celebrations because of “rioting and drunkenness.” Two centuries later, in an effort to revive a tradition from Albany’s past, members of the University Club petitioned the Common Council to repeal the prohibition. The Pinkster ban was lifted on May 16, 2011.

On Friday, June 3, the Club will welcome award-winning author Scott Christianson to the 6th Annual Pinkster Celebration at the National Register-listed University Club of Albany. Scott Christianson, Ph.D. is an award-winning author of several distinguished non-fiction books, as well as a journalist, criminologist, historian, filmmaker, teacher and human rights activist.

Christianson will discuss New York’s history of slavery and abolitionism through the life of a man known only as “Caesar.” He lived his entire life on a colonial estate in Albany County, and was the last living slave north of the Mason-Dixon line. He was the last person in New York to die in bondage in 1852, though slavery ended in New York on July 4, 1827. Caesar is buried in the cemetery of the Nicoll-Sill House in Bethlehem.

In addition to the presentation on Caesar, Christianson will sign copies of two of his books, Freeing Charles: The Struggle to Free a Slave on the Eve of the Civil War (University of Illinois Press; January 22, 2010), and 100 Documents That Changed the World: From the Magna Carta to Wikileaks (Universe; November 10, 2015).

Freeing Charles recounts the life and epic rescue of captured fugitive slave Charles Nalle of Culpeper, Virginia, who was forcibly liberated by Harriet Tubman and others in Troy on April 27, 1860. It follows Nalle from his enslavement by the Hansborough family in Virginia through his escape by the Underground Railroad and his experiences in the North on the eve of the Civil War.  His account underscores fundamental questions about racial inequality, the rule of law, civil disobedience, and violent resistance to slavery in the antebellum North and South.

100 Documents that Changed the World offers a tour through history via declarations, manifestos, and agreements from the Magna Carta and the Declaration of Independence to Wikileaks. This fascinating collection gathers the most significant written documents that have influenced and shaped the way we think about the world and the course of history.


The Club’s first Pinkster Celebration featured readings from four centuries of scholarly and popular publications documenting the people and places of New York’s capital city. In 2012, the University Club Foundation welcomed Albany’s own Pulitzer Prize-winning author, William Kennedy. The featured speaker for 2013 was Stefan Bielinski, the director of the Colonial Albany History Project. In 2014 award-winning journalist and author Paul Grondahl discussed These Exalted Acres: Unlocking the Secrets of Albany Rural Cemetery; and in 2015 the Club hosted a 5th Anniversary Pinkster Celebration Concert with singer songwriter Beth Wood.

The Pinkster Celebration will feature a cocktail reception with light fare and cash bar from 6:00 – 7:00 p.m., followed by a presentation by Christianson. When the reception wraps up at 8:00 p.m., Pinkster revelers are invited to head downstairs for an after-party in the Grille Room with The Greater Love Combo, performing classic, up-tempo jazz. On the first Friday of each month, the University Club serves as a venue for 1st Friday, the downtown arts walk that showcases Albany’s thriving and lively art scene.

Tickets for the Pinkster Celebration are $40 per person. Reservations are required and may be made by calling the University Club at 518-414-3555 or with the links on this page. 

When you purchase your ticket, please consider making a gift to the Foundation's "BIG DIG" campaign to help offset the cost of emergency repairs to a collapsed sewer line!

Proceeds from the event benefit the University Club of Albany Foundation, Inc., a 501c3 corporation, and one need not be a member of the University Club to attend. The Foundation was formed to recognize and maintain the unique historic and architectural significance of the National Register-listed University Club building, its historic neighborhood and the city of Albany, where it has been located since its inception in 1901.

Support for educational programming presented by the University Club Foundation is provided by AT&T.