ASF Past 2016 News

The American Scottish Foundation News Archive

News Archive 2016

  • ASF Roundup of Summer Events & News (7/26/2016)
  • ASF Midsummer Events & News (7/8/2016)
  • ASF Summer Events & News   (6/7/2016)
  • In honor of John Muir's birthday on April 21st...  (4/21/2016)
  • 2016 National Tartan Day Award to be presented to Robert McWiiliam  (4/14/2016)
  • Scottish Waterways Trust launch the American Friends of Scottish Canals  (3/24/2016)
  • The ASF Spring News and Updates - Tartan Day Parade approaches  (3/22/2016)
  • ASF Winter Greetings and Calendar updates  (1/22/2016)
  • Celebrate The Bard : ASF Burns Night Celebration - January 15th ...  (1/12/2016)
  • Join Us for the 18th Annual New York Tartan Day Parade  (1/11/2016)

  • October 18, 2016

    Towering achievements of Scots who built New York to be celebrated via tourist app

    The Scots who built some of the greatest buildings in New York are to be finally put on the map by a new tourism project.

    The immigrants and their descendants who created Carnegie Hall, Penn Station and the Empire State Building will be celebrated by a walking tour and map conceived by the American Scottish Foundation, a charity which promotes ties between Scotland and the US.

    The Big Apple might have been founded by the Dutch — who ceded Manhattan island to the English in 1674 — but the modern metropolis was shaped by Caledonian hands whose contribution to the world’s most famous skyline has long been overlooked. Other landmarks in the city were built for or by wealthy Scots.

    The foundation has organised a series of talks about the people who laid the foundations of the city.

    Camilla Hellman, executive director of the foundation, said the research for the project had taken 18 months. “Now we are looking to move on to create a city map and walking tour app which will allow visitors to discover the leading buildings that Scottish-Americans have been responsible for,” she said.

    “We are looking to have the map and app available for April 2017, to coincide with the Tartan Week celebrations that will take take place in the city at that time.”
    Ms Hellman claimed people were astonished to learn of the extensive work of Scottish architects, engineers and developers in the city. Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel, the author and director of the Historic Landmarks Preservation Centre, said she had come to discover that “all the leading landmarks in New York appear to have been built by Scots”, Ms Hellman said.

    John Kinnear, an architect and member of the New York branch of the foundation, who has given a number of lectures on the city’s Scottish-built landmarks, added that Scottish people had been settling in New York since the city’s early days.

    He continued: “Scottish-Americans and Scottish architects, in particular, have been a leading force in the developing of New York and remain so today. We are now looking to bring this important and fascinating history to a wider audience through the walking tour app and map, and ultimately, a coffee-table book entitled The Scots Who Built New York.”

    A foundation spokesman added: “The influence of the Scots was such that they didn’t just create a section of the city, like Little Italy or Chinatown. They were the city.”

    The map will feature a host of locations including Penn Station, Morgan Library and Museum and the Morningside Heights campus of Columbia University, which were all designed by Charles McKim, as well as City Hall, which was designed by John McComb Jr in 1811.

    Carnegie Hall, the concert venue, was financed by the Fife-born philanthropist Andrew Carnegie; the Empire State Building was designed by William Lamb; Gracie Mansion, the mayor’s official residence, was built for Archibald Gracie of Dumfries; and Grant’s Tomb, the mausoleum of President Ulysses Grant, which was designed by John Duncan.

    All of them will be included in the project.

    July 26, 2016

    HYDE PARK, NY -- On Monday, August 1, 2016, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum and the Home Of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site -- with the American-Scottish Foundation -- will open "In the Footsteps of John Muir," an exhibition by Scottish photographer Ken Paterson. The exhibit will be on display in the Henry A. Wallace Center at the FDR Presidential Library and Home through September 30, 2016. A special opening reception will be held from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. on August 1 in the Wallace Center. Refreshments will be served. Visitors may view the exhibit free of charge in the visitor center, during regular operating hours.

    "In the Footsteps of John Muir," an exhibit of 30 photographic works by Scottish photographer Ken Patterson, traces Muir's early days in Dunbar, Scotland to his love of Yosemite allowing one to see the environment Muir loved and did so much to help preserve. The exhibit is part of the National Centennial Celebration of National Parks.

    Read more in the full Official Press Release here.

    April 14, 2016

    National Tartan Day Award Presentation

    On Thursday April 14th, 2016, The Scottish Coalition, USA, will present the National Tartan Day Award to Mr. Robert McWilliam as part of Washington DC's annual celebration of Scottish-American heritage. The reception, hosted by the National Capital Tartan Day Committee, will take place on Capitol Hill.

    Robert McWilliam has devoted more than 40 years to supporting and promoting Scottish-American culture, in addition to his military, legal, business and philanthropic careers.

    "I am delighted at the unanimous selection of Robert McWilliam for the 2016 Scottish Coalition, USA Award," announced Alan L. Bain, President of the TSC, USA and Chairman of the American-Scottish Foundation, a founding member of the coalition.

    "Bob never stops!" added Bain. "He has been tireless in his support of so many Scottish-American causes, and I have worked with him on various boards where his energy and dedication has been boundless."

    McWilliam, a long-time resident of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, enlisted in the Army after high school, and saw active duty in 1948 and 1949. He served in the reserves for many years, and was promoted to colonel in 1978.

    As he completed his active duty in the Army, McWilliam took his bar exams. From 1957, he practiced law before joining a family-owned start-up company in the automotive and metal casting industries. During his 40 years with the company, he traveled extensively, speaking with engineering societies and presenting research papers at international meetings. At the time of his retirement, the company was providing materials and equipment to industries all over the world.

    Scottish American Activities
    McWilliam has been involved with the Scottish-American community since the 1970s. He is currently:

    - President Emeritus, current Trustee, and one of the founding members of The Scottish Coalition USA;

    - President Emeritus and current Trustee of the Council of Scottish Clans and Associations (COSCA);

    - Past President and current Trustee of the Milwaukee St. Andrews Society and recipient of the Society's Founder's Award;

    - Past President and current Trustee of the Caledonian Foundation USA;
    - a member of the Board of Directors for Scottish Heritage USA;

    - and Emeritus Director of the Clan Donald Foundation.

    McWilliam was granted a personal coat of Scottish arms by Scotland's Lord Lyon, King of Arms. The grant is unique in that it was not based on ancestry, but "for service to Scotland and Scottish Culture."

    He is the originator of the Wisconsin State Tartan, passed by both houses of Wisconsin State Tartan originated by Robert McWilliam, signed into law in April, 2009 by the state legislature and signed into law by Governor James Doyle on April 7, 2008.

    In July of 2009, he was invited by the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs to speak in the Debating Chambers of the Scottish Parliament on the occasion of the 2009 International Clan Gathering in Edinburgh.

    He was a member of Clan Donald USA's 1993 crew of 13 that rowed and sailed the Aileach - an open decked, 40 foot replica of a Scottish Berlinn ( a short Viking long boat) - from Armadale, Skye; down the west coast of Scotland; through the Inner Hebrides, portaging the Aileach across the Kintyre Isthmus to commemorate Magnus Bare Legs, the King of Norway's 1098 portage; and then up the river Clyde to the center of the city of Glasgow, commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Forfeiture of the Lordship of the Isles.

    Other philanthropic work
    In addition to his work with the Scottish-American community, McWilliam has been active with the Boy Scouts of America for a number of years, receiving awards for distinguished service and currently serving as a member of the Advisory Board for the Milwaukee County Council.

    He has also been very involved with the Knights Templar. In 2003, His Royal Highness, the Grand Master, Don Francisco de Borbon y Escasany, Duke of Seville bestowed upon him the dignity of Knight of Grace in the Military and Hospital Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem.

    In 2013, The Sovereign Military Order of the Knights of the Temple of Jerusalem (The Templars) conferred upon him the dignity of their Knight's Grand Cross for his 20 plus years of service, including a term as Prior of their St. John the Baptist Priory.

    Family life
    McWilliam and his wife Mary have been married for over 40 years. They enjoy spending time with their seven children and 10 grandchildren, and engaging in sailboat racing, camping, canoeing and downhill skiing.

    NEWS RELEASE - Thursday, March 24, 2016

    Scotland's National Waterways Charity Hope To Make A Splash In The States

    An exciting new partnership to bring the work of Scotland's only national waterways charity, Scottish Waterways Trust, to supporters in the US launched today, Thursday, March 24.

    The American-Scottish Foundation® will now promote Scottish Waterways Trust's innovative, outdoors projects caring for the canals and creating brighter futures for people living along their banks, amongst potential partners and donors in America.

    American diaspora and those with connections with Scotland will now be able to donate or take up membership packages through the Trust's new American Friends of Scotland's Canals & Waterways [AFSC&W] initiative.

    By becoming a Member or donating to a particular project of AFSC&W, the American Friends will help ensure a brighter future for Scotland's two hundred year old historic canals by making possible a range of important repair and improvement projects.

    Two pioneering waterways projects, Canal College 2® and Ironwork Canal Archaeologists will be backed by the new partnership.

    Scotland's first ever Canal College, the Trust's most successful project to date, helped 116 young people across Scotland into work, further education or training between 2013 and 2015. The charity is now fundraising for the $1.9 million needed to open canal college 2 in North Glasgow, Falkirk and the Highlands and run it for a further three years.

    Ironwork Canal Archaeologists is an innovative project designed by Scottish Waterways Trust to uncover the fascinating history of a lost canal-side Ironworks on the Forth & Clyde Canal in Glasgow, with a series of archaeological and heritage events for the local community and general public.

    Scottish Waterways Trust uses innovative waterways projects like these to engage those suffering from poor physical and mental health, social isolation and unemployment and help them gain the confidence and skills they need to turn their lives around.

    Now donors in America can help make these projects possible and ensure Scottish Waterways Trust can reach and help even more people across the country.

    Karen Moore, Chief Executive of Scottish Waterways Trust, said:

    "We are delighted to launch American Friends of Scotland's Canals & Waterways to enable people in America to forge closer ties with Scotland's vibrant canal history and at the same time help people and wildlife across the country.

    Through this partnership, we hope to add to the great work The American-Scottish Foundation already do in bridging the gap between two great countries, developing a new and exciting way to create strong, sustainable bonds which can last a lifetime.

    Together, we offer people in America the opportunity to strengthen their links to Scotland and connect with a vital piece of the country's rich built, natural and cultural heritage. With the valued support of our friends in America we can make a real and long-lasting difference to our valuable canal network and to the lives of people across Scotland."

    Camilla G Hellman, the Executive Director of the American-Scottish Foundation, said:

    "The American-Scottish Foundation is excited to engage with and promote AFSC&W's valuable work supporting the protection and conservation of Scotland's beautiful, unique waterways through the activities of Scottish Waterways Trust.

    The partnership opens up opportunities for people and organisations in America to connect with a vital part of Scotland's history and heritage by joining AFSC&W as an American Friend, or supporting Scottish Waterways Trust's pioneering projects across Scotland with directed giving opportunities."

    See our dedicated page for more about these exciting AFSC&W projects, and how you can help.

    Photographer traces footsteps of little known naturalist

    KEN Paterson's recovery from a brain tumour was aided by the relatively unknown John Muir, who inspired Ken to photograph a wild journey into nature... read more

    How the Scots built: New York

    January 15, 2016 by Emma O'Neill

    Penn Station, in New York, was built by Charles McKim, who was of Scottish heritage

    SCOTS have made New York their home for centuries - dating back to the time when it was still called New Amsterdam and was under Dutch rule.

    They made their way over in such a steady stream that their influence didn't just create a section of the city - such as Little Italy or China Town - they were the city.

    The lounge room at the New York University club

    New York's culture and landscape were shaped by the immigrants who, sometimes unwillingly, found their way to the shore of the city.

    The earliest Scottish immigration dates back to the 1600s when America was still made up of 13 colonies.

    The Scots came over on the Mayflower ship in drips and drabs, settling into new life across the settled lands.

    The 13 colonies were Virginia, Maryland, Connecticut, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia - and of course New York.

    "At the end of the day, we're all Americans. But what we bring with our culture and our heritage influences what we do."

    - John Kinnear of the New York branch of the American Scottish Foundation

    When the War of American Independence took place, several Scotsmen were part of the signing of the declaration, including Aaron Burr, Alexander Hamilton, James Monroe, James Buchanan, John K. Polk and William Drummond.

    In the 1790 census, Scots made up eight per cent of the population of New York, and there are towns called Albany, Perth and Dundee in the wider state.

    Charles McKim was of Scottish decent, and had a great impact on the city. Born in Pensylvania, the architect made his way to New York after studying in Paris.

    As part of the McKim, Mead & White architect firm, Charles helped to build the Morningside Heights campus of Columbia University (1893), the University Club of New York (1899), the Pierpont Morgan Library (1903), New York Penn Station (1904–10). He also designed the Howard Mansion (1896) at Hyde Park, New York.

    The McKim Building of the Morgan Library

    Andrew Carnegie was born in Dunfermline in Fife.

    Immigrating to the States in 1848, he started work as a telegrapher, making his fortune from sound investments.

    He built and owned Carnegie Hall on 7th Avenue and is still thought of as one of the most prestigious venues in the world for both classical music and popular music.

    Andrew Carnegie portrait by Patch Brothers

    In his later years, Andrew Carnegie implicated a system of having public libraries built across the country.

    Uncle Sam, the personification of the US Government, was based on Samuel Wilson, whose parents came from Greenock.

    Sam provided the army with beef and pork in barrels during the War of 1812. The barrels were prominently labelled “U.S.” for the United States, but it was jokingly said that the letters stood for “Uncle Sam.”

    Even the influence of Scottish universities have had an effect on New York. The first medical school in New York, King’s College, was established by Samuel Bard, who gained his doctorate at Edinburgh University. He was also personal physician to George Washington.

    John Kinnear of the New York branch of the American Scottish Foundation, believes that it is important to celebrate this heritage, saying: “At the end of the day, we’re all Americans. But what we bring with our culture and our heritage influences what we do.

    “It’s like if someone asked ‘What’s the point of preserving all the buildings?’. It’s because it’s a matter of our heritage and the past is the stepping stone to the future.

    The portrait of Uncle Sam was based on Samuel Wilson, whose parents were from Greenock

    “You can’t just wipe everything out and start from scratch.”

    See also this article from the DAILY RECORD in our Magazine, and more recenty this informative piece.

    American Scottish Foundation hosts fundraiser

    January 14, 2016 by Sora Vernikoff, NY Charity Events Examiner

    On Friday, January 15, 2016 The American-Scottish Foundation is having its 21st Anniversary Burns Night Celebration. This important fundraiser will begin at 7 p.m. and will take place at The University Club which is located at 1 West 54th Street, New York. This celebratory event will begin with a reception and whisky tasting and then guests will be piped into dinner where they'll experience a traditional Burns Night Supper.

    Now one of the evening's major highlights will be "Piping in the Haggis." With all its fanfare, the gentlemen piper will announce the arrival of the Haggis and will lead a procession which includes the chef, the orator, and the whisky bearers who will be presenting the Haggis. Then after circling the room so that all the attendees have been able to see the Haggis, the Haggis will be set in a place ready to be "addressed." Then Kenneth C. Donnelly, who is president of the Robert Burns Society of New York will present a special recital of Burn's "Address to a Haggis." At some appropriate point in his presentation when the line "An cut you up wi ready slight", is said, Mr. Donnelly will take his dirk and pierce the Haggis, finishing his "Address to a Haggis" with "Gie her a Haggis!"

    So if you'd like to join The American-Scottish Foundation to help strengthen ties between The United States and Scotland and to also enjoy a very rich culturally exciting American-Scottish evening then click HERE and buy a ticket today!