Shorto, a narrative historian and journalist, is known for his chronicles of New York’s past, in particular its origins as a Dutch colony. As the head of the Diamonstein-Spielvogel Institute, Short will oversee the creation of a new historical archive of materials relating to local activism, including the civil rights movement, women’s rights, the fight for LBGTQ+ rights, and more recent actions against climate change. He’s also a contributing writer at the New York Times Magazine and senior scholar at the New Netherland Institute in Albany.
“I’m very excited about this opportunity,” said Shorto. “New York has always led the way in advancing civil rights and social justice in America. For nearly 20 years I’ve argued that that tradition has its roots in New York’s Dutch founding. The Diamonstein-Spielvogel Institute gives me a chance to bring that history to bear on the present. I’m grateful to Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel and Louise Mirrer for deputizing me to take on such a worthy task.”
The institute was founded this summer to memorialize the marginalized communities and individuals at the center of the last century’s most important political, social, and cultural moments in New York; it also offers scholarly programs, a resident fellowship, and short-term fellowships. Among the first pieces in the Institute’s archive was a selection of historic documents associated with Manhattan’s High Line and its transformation from a disused rail structure to open public space beginning in 1999, followed by papers on historic preservation efforts around the city.
“[Shorto’s] noteworthy appointment as executive director enables us to expand our efforts to support our commitment to inclusiveness, diversity, social equity, community service, and accessibility, so that present and future historians can place the city’s multiple histories within an accurate and meaningful context, Diamonstein-Spielvogel said in a statement.