Tag Archives: New York State Library

1911 Capitol Fire Exhibit Extended


By on

0 Comments

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


By on

0 Comments

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


By on

0 Comments

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.

Event: State Capitol and the Great Fire of 1911


By on

0 Comments

On Sunday, March 6, at 2:00 pm, the Albany Institute of History & Art will host a free lecture and book-signing by Paul Mercer and Vicki Weis, authors of the recently published book, The New York State Capitol and the Great Fire of 1911 (Arcadia Publishing, 2011). The lecture will complement a library case display at the Albany Institute of 10 historic photographs documenting the event, including the only known photo in existence of the full view of the building fully consumed by flames.

Weiss and Paul, of the New York State Library’s Manuscripts and Special Collections will discuss their pictorial history of the fire, which occurred on March 29, 1911. The book combines dramatic photographs with eyewitness accounts of the fire, which severely damaged the western portion of the capitol.

Virtually the entire collection of the State Library—as well as significant holdings of the New York State Museum—were destroyed in the blaze, which struck as the Education Department was mere months from relocating to the State Education Building across the street. The book tells not only the story of the fire and its aftermath, but also recounts the history of the construction of the capitol, as well as the pre- and post-fire history of the library.

The Albany Institute of History & Art’s library case display documenting the event includes a selection of 10 rare photos, showing both exterior and interior views taken during and after the actual fire. It also includes images of many of the firemen who responded to the blaze, The display opens on March 4 and closes in June. Viewing is free and open to the public.

The March 6 lecture and book-signing is free and open to the public. Museum admission is not included. Call (518) 463-4478 or visit www.albanyinstitute.org for more information.

More New Netherland Documents Now Online


By on

0 Comments

Out of print for many years and inaccessible to researchers, the first volume of the Register of the Provincial Secretary of New Netherland is now available on the web courtesy of the New Netherland Research Center. This archive, originally comprising 49 books, contained copies of correspondence, land conveyances, court proceedings, resolutions of council,regulations, contracts, leases,and more. The Provincial Secretary was responsible for recording the proceedings of the High Council and maintaining these archives for future reference.

In the 19th century, E. B. O’Callaghan decided that the Dutch records could be organized more logically. His “improvement” was to tear the books apart and rearrange the documents according to genre. The original 49 books became 23 volumes, each containing a specific type of document.

The first volume in his scheme,Register of the Provincial Secretary 1638-41, consists of wills, inventories of estates, depositions, and other documents. O’Callaghan produced translations of the three volumes of “Registers” and the first volume of “Council Minutes.”

Some years later another translator, A. J. F. van Laer, judged O’Callaghan’s work to be unreliable and undertook a new translation. By 1911 he had completed a translation of the first volume; this and the original records were lying on his desk when a disastrous fire broke out in the State Library. Van Laer’s work was destroyed, together with the Dutch originals.

Although all the Dutch records suffered varying degrees of damage, only this volume, volume one of the colonial Dutch records, was completely destroyed. All that remains of its Dutch original is a transcription of documents 95-143, which Van Laer happened to have at his house.

To continue his projected new translation, Van Laer had to use the surviving O’Callaghan translation. However, as the Dutch originals were still fresh in his mind, he was able to correct O’Callaghan’s translation in extensive footnotes. Van Laer eventually also translated the next three volumes (“Registers” for 1642-47 and 1648-57,and “Council Minutes” for 1638-49) as arranged by O’Callaghan.

These were not published until 1973, several years after his death in 1955. Minor changes only have been made to the text and to Van Laer’s notes, and corrections are incorporated according to Van Laer’s notations.

Offensive language or situations have been put back in the text, as have several pages that had inadvertently been left out. Future volumes in this series will consist of a scan of the original document, a transcription of the Dutch, and a translation with annotations. To browse or download volume one of the register, go to:
http://www.nnp.org/nnrc/Documents/vanLaer/index.html.

New Netherland Research Residencies


By on

0 Comments

The Quinn Library Research Residency consists of specialized research in Dutch-related documents and printed materials at the New York State Library. Researchers interested in the history of New Netherland and the Dutch Colonial Atlantic World are also encouraged to apply for the special Cunningham Grant of $2,500.

The Quinn Archives Research Residency consists of up to one year in Albany, working in the rich collections of the New Netherland Institute and the New York State Archives.

Researchers interested in the history of New Netherland and the Dutch Colonial Atlantic World are also encouraged to apply for the research residency, which carries a stipend of $2,500.

The Quinn Library Research Residency Award application must be postmarked by January 28,2011 and is due January 29,2011. The Archives Research Residency Award application is due January 15,2011. Each award is for $2,500 and the successful candidate has a year from the time the awards are announced to complete his/her research.

A panel of scholars and library staff will review proposals. The panel’s decisions will be announced by April 14, 2011.

More information and the application link can be found at http://www.nnp.org/nni/Research%20&%20Education/quinn.html

If you’d like to discuss the suitability of your research topic for one of these awards, contact cgehring@mail.nysed.gov or jvenema@mail.nysed.gov or mdshattuck@gmail.com

New Expanded Saturday Hours for NYS Archives, Library


By on

0 Comments

The New York State Library and New York State Archives will institute new Saturday hours beginning on October 16th. Saturday hours of operation at the two facilities, located on the 7th and 11th floor of the Cultural Education Center (CEC) at the Empire State Plaza in Albany, will be from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free public parking will be available in the Madison Avenue parking lots adjacent to the CEC. Directions and parking information is available on the New York State Museum website.

This new policy for expanded access does not affect the hours of the New York State Museum, which is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week, except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. However if a major holiday (e.g. July 4th, Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day) falls directly on a Saturday, the Library and Archives will not be open (checking their websites is advised for such holidays).

The New York State Library has served New Yorkers, New York State government and researchers from throughout the United States for more than 190 years. It is the largest state library in the nation and the only state library to qualify for membership in the Association of Research Libraries. The Library’s research collection of more than 20 million items includes major holdings in law, medicine, the social sciences, education, American and New York State history and culture, the pure sciences and technology.

The New York State Archives identifies, preserves, and makes available more than 200 million records of colonial and state government dating back to 1630 that have enduring
value to the public and private institutions and to all the people of the Empire State and the nation.

Tracing Your Ancestors to the Dutch Settlers


By on

1 Comment

Theodore P. Wright, Jr., Ph.D., Vice President of the Dutch Settlers Society of Albany and a trustee of the New Netherland Institute, will discuss resources to aid in tracing your ancestors to the Dutch Settlers, specifically in an area under the jurisdiction of the Court of Rensselaerswijck prior to the year 1665 or in Esopus (Kingston, NY) prior to the year 1661. The program will be held in Librarians Room, New York State Library, Cultural Education Center, 7th floor 310 Madison Avenue, Albany 12230 on Thursday, June 17th, 12:15 – 1:15 PM Online registration is available.

The Dutch Settlers Society of Albany was founded in 1924, in connection with the celebration of the tercentenary of the settlement of the City, and was instituted to: perpetuate the memory and virtues of the individuals who resided here during the time it was a Dutch colony; and to collect and preserve records and information concerning the history and settlement of Albany and its vicinity, including genealogical records of the settlers and their descendants without regard to race, creed, or country of origin.

For more information about this program, contact Sheldon Wein or Mary Beth Bobish at NYSLTRN@mail.nysed.gov, or call at 518-474-2274.

Lecture: Sex and the City: The Early Years


By on

1 Comment

In 1633, Griet Reyniers invented the role of the Manhattan woman on the prowl, personifying the bawdy world the Dutch created when they settled in the Hudson Valley and surrounding region. On May 14th, Bill Greer explores this world in his talk “Sex and the City: The Early Years” as part of the New York State Library’s noontime programs.

Using art, literature and folklore, Bill will discuss the Dutch culture of the era and the libertine characters like Griet who transplanted it to the Hudson Valley. The wanton ways of these early settlers helped fuel a conflict between the people and their rulers, a conflict many historians argue laid the foundation for the freedom-loving society that America became.

Bill is the author of The Mevrouw Who Saved Manhattan, a novel of New Amsterdam. De Halve Maen, Journal of the Holland Society, describes the book as a “romp through the history of New Netherland that would surely have Petrus Stuyvesant complaining about the riot transpiring between its pages.” He is a trustee and the Treasurer of the New Netherland Institute, a nonprofit organization supporting research and education in Dutch-American history. The Institute currently is working with the New York State Office of Cultural Education to establish the New Netherland Research Center in Albany.

The talk will be in the Huxley Theater on the first floor of the Cultural Education Center, home of the New York State Library, Museum and Archives, at 310 Madison Avenue, Empire State Plaza, Albany, NY. It will run from 12:15 to 1:15 on Friday, May 14th. The program is free and attendees are invited to bring lunch.

State Library Puts Revolutionary War Materials Online


By on

0 Comments

The New York State Library has a new web page that highlights and links to materials relating to the American Revolutionary War that have been scanned from print copies in the State Library’s collection.

One of the items recently digitized is “The Balloting Book and Other Documents Relating to Military Bounty Lands in the State of New York,” which contains copies of several acts relative to Revolutionary War bounty lands and the payment given of officers and soldiers for service in the War. An alphabetical listing of the names of soldiers and officers in each regiment is provided and includes the rank and company of the soldier, the township number, the lot number, the acreage, and date of patent.

Another item recently digitized is “New York in the Revolution as Colony and State,” a compilation of papers that relate to the services performed by New York in the Revolutionary War, including muster and pay rolls of men serving in the Line, Levies, Militia, and Navy (Privateers).

In addition, several manuscript documents have been digitized. For example (shown above), “A Representation of Major John Andrè, Adjutant General to the Kings Forces in North America, Going From the Vulture Sloop of War to the Shore of Havershaw [sic] Bay in Hudsons [sic] River the Night of the 23d. of September 1780, in a Boat Which Was Sent For Him […]” is a digital copy of an engraving from a drawing sketched by Major Andrè on the morning on which he was executed.