A Local Music Legacy Inspires New Online Exhibit

(PLATTSBURGH, NY - Monday August 1 2022) - Tim Hartnett never met a research question he didn't like. The late librarian, musician, and beloved man-about-town relished the challenge of tracking down reliable information. He was good at it, and good at helping college students acquire the skills needed to do it for themselves.

One question that captivated him late in his life was, How many famous musical acts played the SUNY Plattsburgh campus?

Answering that question led him on a journey to uncover the largely forgotten history of famous performers and personalities who played the SUNY Plattsburgh campus over the years. The results of his work can now be found on the Plattsburgh Rocks! website.

From the 1960s to 1990s, Plattsburgh had a vibrant culture of concerts and performances, playing host to rock groups and to speakers touring the Northeastern United States and Quebec.

The list includes many impressive names, such as rockers Pat Benatar, Talking Heads, Yes, Billy Joel, and Alice Cooper; folk performers Pete Seeger and Doc Watson; living legends James Taylor and Joni Mitchell; poet Allan Ginsburg; and activist Jerry Rubin. And many more.

New Online Exhibit

Plattsburgh Rocks! inspired Eleanor Schulz, a graduate student at the University of Washington, to launch a project that has resulted in an exciting new online exhibit called, Capturing the History of SUNY Plattsburgh’s Student Nightlife Scene in the 1980s and 1990s.

The exhibit, Eleanor's Capstone project for her MLIS degree, extends Tim's work with oral histories drawn from interviews with people who remembered or participated in the Plattsburgh concert scene. 

"I had a really rewarding experience working on my Capstone project with the amazing librarians at SUNY Plattsburgh. With their help I was able to learn so much about how 90s students enjoyed their time in this happening college town!"

Ms. Schulz enjoyed collaboration with Tim's sister, Cassandra (Cass) Hartnett, a reference librarian at the University of Washington and an Information School lecturer – they met when Eleanor took a library science class from Cass; Joshua Beatty, SUNY Plattsburgh librarian and co-historian for the City of Plattsburgh; and Debra Kimok, SUNY Plattsburgh Special Collections librarian. 

"This project speaks to the importance of student-librarian-historian partnerships in supporting student learning," says SUNY Plattsburgh Library Director Elin O'Hara-Gonya. "The success of this project illustrates the ongoing value of collaboration between complementary fields of study; drawing upon historian and librarian expertise can enable students to participate more widely in creating new scholarly works. This capstone project also acknowledges the long-time contributions of librarian Tim Hartnett to the greater Plattsburgh community." 

Earlier, Plattsburgh Rocks! provided source material for another online exhibit devoted to Plattsburgh history. And Still We Rise: Celebrating Plattsburgh's (Re)Discovery of Iconic Black Visitors was created by SUNY Plattsburgh students in their African American Political Thought class, with assistance from Tim, Debra Kimok, and Joshua Beatty. The political science class was taught by John McMahon, assistant professor.

Tim Hartnett had a deep knowledge of and lifelong commitment to Plattsburgh, NY. Widely appreciated as a local musician, he enjoyed chronicling the history of musicians and other performers who visited the college. His legacy lives on.