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Events Celebrate the James Family of Albany

"Henry James Senior and a Tragic Event in Academy Park" -- May 1
Walking tour of Albany Rural Cemetery -- May 7
"Henry James movies until you can't stand it: The rarely seen" -- May 14
Trolley tours -- May 22

"Henry James Senior and a Tragic Event in Academy Park" is the title of a presentation by University at Albany Distinguished Teaching Professor Warren Roberts on Sunday, May 1, 2011 at 2 p.m. at the Academy Building, Academy Park, Albany (across from Albany’s City Hall). A brief walking tour follows. The event is open to the public and free of charge.

Roberts will discuss family patriarch William James, the Irishman who immigrated to Albany and established the family that produced his famous grandsons, writer Henry James and philosopher and psychologist William James.

William James opened a dry goods store in 1795. The properties he purchased along the Erie Canal were of central importance in creating his vast fortune. The Academy building was close to the site of an accident suffered by Henry James Sr., which resulted in the amputation of his leg below the knee, an incident that greatly influenced the lives of his sons William and Henry.

That Henry and William James had many ties to the Albany is evidenced by James's opening of his story Portrait of  a Lady in a brownstone on Albany's State Street. The significant works and pivotal thought of the two brothers helped shape the 20th century, particularly the intellectual, artistic, and philosophical movement now called Modernism.

James Family Celebration events continue on Saturday, May 7 at 1 p.m., when UAlbany Distinguished Service Professor John Pipkin will lead a walking tour of Albany Rural Cemetery. The tour will depart from the Chapel/Mausoleum and attendees are urged to wear sturdy walking shoes and come prepared to walk in any weather for this 90-minute guided tour of one of the region’s treasure troves. A visit to the James Family Plot is on the itinerary. The walking tour is free of charge.

A film festival, "Henry James movies until you can't stand it: The rarely seen," takes place Saturday, May 14 at the Albany Academy’s Black Box Theater, at 135 Academy Rd. in Albany. The Film Festival starts at noon with a screening of The Lost Moment (1947) based on the story "Aspern Papers," followed by a 2 p.m. screening of Benjamin Britten’s The Turn of the Screw (opera – 2008). At 4 p.m. The Green Room (1978) screens; the movie was directed by Francis Truffaut and based on the James stories "The Altar of the Dead" and "The Beast of the Jungle." At 6 p.m., In the Shadows (1998) will be shown, a contemporary version set in Seattle of The Wings of the Dove. The Film Festival is free of charge and is hosted by Leonard Zapala, director, Menands Public Library. Zapala holds an MFA in Film Studies from Columbia University.

Henry and William James

Author Henry James and his brother William, psychologist and philosopher.

Two trolley tours on Sunday, May 22 further explore James family ties in the region. The James Family Connection Tour from 12:30-2:30 p.m. includes visits to Albany Academy, State Street House from Portrait of a Lady, and Elk Street House, the family home. From 2:45-4:45 p.m., the Erie Canal Tour includes visits to Cohoes Falls and Tug Chancellor, a canal lock tour, and a walking tour of Champlain Canal side-cut and towpath. William James Sr., grandfather to William and Henry, was instrumental in the development of the Erie Canal. Tours are followed by a 5 p.m. reception at the C.H. Evans Brewing Company. The cost is $25 per ticket for a seat on the trolley tour and the cocktail reception with cash bar; $46 per ticket reserves seats on both trolley tours and the cocktail reception with cash bar. Tickets are on sale at Watervliet Public Library, 1501 Broadway (across from City Hall) Space is limited so please reserve seats early.Call (518) 274-4471 or e-mail for more information.

The James Family Celebration is funded by a grant from the New York Council for the Humanities, and supported by the UAlbany College of Arts and Sciences, UAlbany's Center for Humanities, Arts and TechnoSciences, and local programming partners. See additional events.

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