Tag Archives: New York State Library

Charles Gehring On New York’s Dutch Records


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Charles GehringCharles Gehring, director of the New Netherland Research Center at the New York State Library in Albany, recently joined host Jane E. Wilcox on the podcast Forget-Me-Not Hour, for two consecutive episodes.

Gehring talked about the Center’s project of transcribing and translating the provincial Dutch records of New Netherland. He shared the astonishing history of the records, his most recent work to put them online, explained what genealogists and historians can find in them, and more. Continue reading

West Kill Creek: History Meets Post-Apocalyptic Fiction


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wkcfrontcoverWest Kill Creek by Shawn Purcell (Troy Book Makers, 2014) is a contemplative work of post-apocalyptic fiction set in upstate New York and shot-through with local history.

A particularly lethal virus has rapidly wiped out most of civilization. A hardy band of survivors does what it takes to stay alive, but the novel also reverberates with the echoes of local history and deep time, the beauty and terror of nature, the power and glory of books, current environmental and political issues, and actual events and places. Continue reading

NYS Library Clearing Thousands of Items From Stacks


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TU StoryPaul Grondahl at the Albany Times Union is reporting that the New York State Library is rapidly discarding tens of thousands of items in the stacks of the old State Library beneath the State Education Building.

State Librarian Bernard Margolis, who is overseeing the reduction of the stacks, blames years of State Library budget cuts and an increase in state Education Department paperwork.  Opposition from State Library employees, who remain anonymous out of fear for their jobs, has gone unheeded.

Here are some of the details from Paul Grondahl: Continue reading

New York State Library Offering Family History Programs


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NYS Cultural Education CenterThe New York State Library on Madison Avenue in Albany is a treasure trove of genealogy resources. This month, library staff will present two public programs for those tracing their family histories.

“Genealogy Online with HeritageQuest and Ancestry Library” will be held this Saturday, August 10, 2013 from 10:30am to noon at 7th floor computer classroom. Senior Librarian Stephanie Barrett will demonstrate the HeritageQuest and Ancestry online databases, both of which are accessible at the New York State Library. Participants will learn how to access census records, genealogy and history book, maps and other resources included in these databases. Seating is limited and registration is required. Continue reading

Lecture: The Excavations of Fort Orange


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Dr. Paul Huey, now retired as archeologist for the New York State Historic Sites system (Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation) who will present a talk on the history of Fort Orange and the excavation in 1970 and 1971 of archeological remains of the fort ahead of the construction of Interstate 787, an event which inspired a revival of interest in the history of Albany in the Dutch period.

Fort Orange was a trading center built by the Dutch West India Company in 1624. The fort was located outside of Beverwijck (present-day Albany), to the south and near the river bank. In 1647, Petrus Stuyvesant, representing the West India Company as director of New Netherland, began to allow private traders to build houses inside the fort. Other traders built houses close to and outside the fort, which Stuyvesant considered to be illegal.

Consequently, Stuyvesant established the settlement of Beverwijck as a town at what he considered a satisfactory distance away from the fort. The fort and all of New Netherland were taken by the English in 1664 during peacetime. The fort was retaken briefly by the Dutch who then returned it to the English, and it was finally abandoned in 1676 by the English. The English then built a new fort on the State Street hill in Albany.

The event is hosted by The Friends of the New York State Library and will take place on September 26 2012 from 12:15pm – 1:15pm at the 7th floor Librarians Room, at the New York State Library, Madison Avenue, Albany, NY. To register for the program, go to: http://www.forms2.nysed.gov/nysl/trngreg.cfm

Illustration: Location of Fort Orange on today’s Albany’s riverfront from Len Tantillo’s Visions of New York State. Digital copy courtesy The People of Colonial Albany Project.

State Library History Programs Planned


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The New York State library is offering two history related public programs in January. These programs are free and open to the public. Participants can register online, e-mail NYSLTRN@mail.nysed.gov, or call 518-474-2274. The organizers ask that participants contact them if any reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act is required at least three business days prior to the program date.

Walking Tour: Local History and Genealogy Resources
Date: Saturday, January 14
Time: 10:30am – 11:30am
Location: 7th floor, New York State Library – meet in front of the Genealogy/Local History Desk

The New York State Library is a treasure chest of resources for those tracing their family histories. This one hour tour highlights published genealogies, local histories, church records, Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) records, United States and New York State Census records, newspapers on microfilm, city directories and more. Shawn Purcell, subject specialist for genealogy and local history at the New York State Library, will lead the tour. The tour is limited to 15 individuals and registration is required.

Historical Newspapers Online at the NYS Library
Date: Saturday, January 21
Time: 10:30-12:00
Location: 7th floor Computer Classroom

Senior Librarian, Stephanie Barrett will discuss online databases available at the New York State Library that contain full-text historical newspapers. She will demonstrate the effective use of America’s Historical Newspapers and the Historical Newspapers (New York Times) with an emphasis on newspapers published in New York State. She will also discuss Civil War: a Newspaper Perspective. Seating is limited and registration is required

State Museum, Library, Archives Closed Saturday


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The New York State Museum, State Library and State Archives will be closed to the public on Saturday, September 24 due to semi-annual routine maintenance of electrical systems in the Cultural Education Center.

The Cultural Education Center is closed on Sundays. The State Museum, Library and Archives will reopen on Monday, September 26.

The State Museum, Archives and Library are part of the Office of Cultural Education (OCE) and are programs of the New York State Education Department. They are located on Madison Avenue in Albany. Admission is free. Further information can be obtained by calling (518) 474-5877 or visiting the OCE website.

1911 Capitol Fire Exhibit Extended


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The 1911 Capitol Fire exhibit in lobby of Cultural Education Center has been extended through October 22, 2011. In the early morning hours of March 29, 1911, a fire broke out in the
northwest corner of the New York State Capitol. Many Albany residents awoke in the early morning hours to see the entire western side of the presumed fireproof building was engulfed in flames shooting 200 feet high. The fast-moving flames destroyed much of the State Library, the fifth largest in the U.S., which was housed in the Capitol.

More than 8,000 Museum objects stored in the Capitol were also destroyed or lost. The fire caused the unprecedented destruction of the state’s intellectual, cultural and historic property and also claimed the life of the lone night watchman.

The exhibition commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Capitol Fire through dramatic photographs, eyewitness accounts, and artifacts that survived the blaze.

Photo: Amateur photographer Harry Roy Sweney captured the Capitol inferno at 3:30 a.m. on March 29, 1911. The New York American paid $25.00 for the first print of this dramatic photograph. Courtesy New York State Library, Manuscripts and Special Collections.

State Capitol Fire of 1911 Commemoration


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In the early morning hours of March 29, 1911, a fire broke out in the New York State Capitol at Albany. By sunset, the vast collection of the New York State Library, then housed in the Capitol, had been reduced to ashes.

To commemorate the centennial of the fire, coauthors Paul Mercer and Vicki Weiss, both of the New York State Library, have published The New York State Capitol and the Great Fire of 1911 (Arcadia Press, 2011) including rare images and documents from the special collections of the modern library, which arose from the ruins of the 1911 fire.

The public is invited join Executive Deputy Chief Warren Abriel of the Albany Fire Department to mark the 100th Anniversary of this historic event on Tuesday, March 29, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the University Club of Albany. The reception will feature light fare and cash bar, and authors Mercer and Weiss will discuss and sign the book. Royalties from book sales benefit the Friends of the New York State Library.

The event will also feature a preview of a documentary set to air on March 31 on WMHT, The New York Capitol Fire. Robert Altman, President and CEO of WMHT Educational Communications, will introduce a clip of the video, which draws on interviews, archival materials and reenactments. This WMHT documentary was created in collaboration with the New York State Museum, the New York State Archives, the Albany Institute, the New York State Library, the City of Albany and the Commission on the Restoration of the Capitol.

The cost for the reception, book signing and video preview is $20 per person. Reservations are required and may be made by calling the University Club at (518) 463-1151.

A portion of the proceeds from this event benefit the University Club Foundation, formed to recognize and maintain the unique historic and architectural significance of the University Club building and property, 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 of Albany Foundation, Inc. is provided by AT&T.

Photo: Fire-destroyed reading room in State Capitol, Albany, NY, 1911. Courtesy New York State Archives.

State Museum 1911 Capitol Fire Exhibit Opening


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The “1911 Capitol Fire” exhibition will open at the New York State Museum on March 19 as part of a series of special events and programs commemorating the 100th anniversary of the devastating fire that struck the New York State Capitol.

Many Albany residents awoke in the early morning hours on March 29, 1911 to see the Capitol on fire. The entire western side of the presumed fireproof building was engulfed in flames shooting 200 feet high. The fast-moving flames destroyed much of the State Library, the fifth largest in the U.S., which was housed in the Capitol.

More than 8,000 Museum objects stored in the Capitol were also destroyed or lost. The fire caused the unprecedented destruction of the state’s intellectual, cultural and historic property and also claimed the life of the lone night watchman.

Special events will include a commemoration ceremony at the Capitol on March 29 at 10 a.m., sponsored by the New York State Commission on the Restoration of the Capitol. The State Museum also will host a preview of a WMHT documentary – “The New York Capitol Fire” – in the Huxley Theater on Monday, March 28 at 12:15 p.m. It will air on WMHT on Thursday, March 31.

Open until June 18 in the lobby of the Office of Cultural Education (OCE), the exhibition is a collaboration between the State Museum, State Library and State Archives and chronicles how the fire affected each of the OCE institutions and their collections. It is based largely on the book, “The New York State Capitol and the Great Fire of 1911,” written by Paul Mercer and Vicki Weiss, senior librarians in the State Library’s Manuscripts and Special Collections unit.

The exhibition will include dramatic photographs, eyewitness accounts and artifacts that survived the blaze. One of those is a section of the iron chain link that stretched across the Hudson River between West Point and Constitution Island to prevent British vessels from navigating up the river during the American Revolution. West Point was a strategic site because of the s-curve in the Hudson there that forced large ships to slow down and become an easy target. The links were recovered from the State Library ruins after the fire. Another section of the chain is preserved at the West Point Military Academy.

Also on display are an 1892 fire helmet, lantern and fire nozzle, courtesy of Warren W. Abriel, a deputy chief in the Albany fire department and a fourth-generation Albany firefighter. The helmet was worn by Abriel’s great-grandfather, Reuben H. Abriel, who manned Steamer 2 for the Albany Fire Department when it was a volunteer force.

There also will be several objects showing fire damage that were part of the Museum’s world-famous Lewis Henry Morgan collection. New York state commissioned Morgan to gather objects from the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) communities in the state and from the Six Nations reserve in Canada in 1849-50. All but 50 of some 500 objects were on exhibit.

On the day of the fire Arthur C. Parker, who was Seneca and the state’s first archaeologist, risked his life to save Museum collections and wrote that he was only able to save about 1,500 of the 10,000 objects. The only items in the Morgan collection that survived were in his office. The Parker family assisted Morgan in assembling the collection.

More information on the Morgan collection will be available at one of the programs planned at the Museum to complement the exhibition. The talks are all on Tuesdays at 12:15 p.m. They are:

* March 29 – Talk and Book Signing: “The New York State Capitol and the Great Fire of 1911.” Mercer and Weiss will present dramatic stories and images from their new book. The book will be for sale after the talk and also is available in the Museum shop and from the Friends of the New York State Library – http://nyslfriends.org/, which will receive all royalties from the book.
* April 5 – “The Conservation of Burned Documents.” Paper conservator Susan Bove of the State Archives will discuss contemporary preservation methods that were used to repair documents salvaged from the Capitol Fire. She will also talk about the conservation treatment protocol that she developed to meet the needs of these especially fragile items.
* Tuesday, April 12 – “Lessons Learned: Modern Response to Fire Events in Cultural Institutions.”

Paper conservator Michele Phillips of the State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation’s Bureau of Historic Sites will provide an overview of best practices in action to safeguard collections and their impact on salvage and recovery.

Tuesday, April 19 – “A Capitol Loss: The Lewis Henry Morgan Collection.” Dr. Betty J. Duggan, the Museum’s curator of Ethnography and Ethnology, recounts the collection’s history and the experience of its young curator, Arthur C. Parker, during and after the fire.

The State Museum is a program of the New York State Education Department’s Office of Cultural Education. Located on Madison Avenue in Albany, the Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 9:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. except on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Further information can be obtained by calling (518) 474-5877 or visiting the museum website at www.nysm.nysed.gov.

Photo: Amateur photographer Harry Roy Sweney captured the Capitol inferno at 3:30 a.m. on March 29, 1911. The New York American paid $25.00 for the first print of this dramatic photograph. Courtesy New York State Library, Manuscripts and Special Collections.