Tag Archives: Online Resources

A Survey of Oral Histories in Local Repositories


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Historical societies, especially small ones, often fall off the radar when librarians compile collection information, even though most of our cultural heritage is collected and kept in these small repositories. Personal accounts in the form of recorded oral histories are one of the most valuable, and also the most vulnerable of these precious local documents.

Librarian and oral historian Nancy MacKay (San Jose State University, School of Library and Information Science), is currently conducting a survey on the state of oral histories in repositories. She is especially interested in reaching historical societies and cultural centers. The results of the survey will be made available as widely as possible.

If your organization contains oral histories, please contribute information about your organization online.
The survey should take 15-20 minutes. More information about the survey can be found on the survey information page. The Survey deadline is March 30. For more information contact Nancy MacKay or Emily Vigor at curatingoralhistories@gmail.com.

Q & A: Tessa Fallon of the Human Rights Web Archive


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In February the New York Archivists Round Table was spotlighting the Human Rights Web Archive (HRWA), a joint initiative of Columbia University Libraries and Information Services and its Center for Human Rights Documentation and Research. As stated on the project’s site on the Internet Archive, the HRWA is “an effort to preserve and ensure access to freely available human rights resources created mainly by non-governmental organizations, national human rights institutions, and individuals.”

A major and invaluable undertaking, the HRWA is indicative of the recognition by major research institutions of the importance of the practice of web archiving, or capturing and preserving websites and other web-only materials for future research. Earlier in the month the Round Table had the opportunity to conduct a brief interview with Tessa Fallon, Web Collection Curator for the HRWA. Many thanks to Tessa for her insightful replies, which highlight some of the complex issues at work in the HRWA and also touch upon future directions for the project:

Q: What are your primary responsibilities as Web Collection Curator?

A: My primary responsibilities revolve around the maintenance and development of our web archive collections. This includes (but is not limited to): selecting new sites, requesting permission from site owners, sending cataloging requests to our catalogers, testing sites for technical suitability, and managing crawls of our selected sites. In addition to the HRWA (managed jointly between myself and co-curator Alex Thurman), I also manage the new Burke New York City Religions and the Rare Book and Manuscript Library web archives (both collections are in stages of development). Alex manages the Avery Architectural Library web archive, which includes sites related to historic preservation and architecture in New York City, and the University Archives collection.

Q: One of the main criteria for website inclusion in the HRWA is a perceived risk of disappearance. How do you determine that a website is at risk of disappearing?

A: This is a perennially tricky question, and we are continually refining our perception of what “at risk” means for a website. Some might argue that given the ephemerality of the web, all websites are at risk. For the HRWA, there are some criteria that are clearly defined: organizations that are at risk of persecution from hostile governments or other groups, organizations that have limited or threatened access to the internet, and sites that are static, presumably abandoned (no longer updated–in some cases, for years). In our experiences, sites may also disappear and reappear without notice, which makes at-risk difficult to gauge.

Q: Can you briefly explain the process of how a website is captured for inclusion in the archive?

A: The (very) abbreviated version of How Web Crawling Works: Sites are captured using a tool called a web crawler. A crawler can capture web content by crawling from link to link on a given site. So, if I sent a crawler to capture this blog, the crawler starting, “nyhistoryblog.com” would capture all of the content on nyhistoryblog.com at that moment in time. The crawler creates a file (called a WARC file) that is then used by a program like the Wayback Machine to show the archived site (content captured by the crawler).

Q: The HRWA website states that the project team is currently pursuing other means of making the archive available in addition to the project page on the Internet Archive. What additional means are you considering?

A: As part of the grant, we are attempting to develop a portal that would allow us to provide a local index and interface for our archived web sites. This is not yet available to the public. Portal development is spearheaded by Stephen Davis, Director of Library Digital Programs Division, programmer David Arjaniks, and web designers Erik Ryerson and Eric O’Hanlon.

If you’d like to learn more about the HRWA, check out the highly-informative FAQ section of the project site!

Humanities Council Radio Program Announced


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The New York Council for the Humanities has announced a new radio program, Person Place Thing with Randy Cohen, produced by WAMC-Northeast Public Radio with production support by the Council. This new one-hour interview show will debut Friday, February 17th at 1pm and its initial season will air monthly through July.

Hosted by the Emmy-winning Cohen, who wrote “The Ethicist” column for the New York Times for a dozen years, Person Place Thing (PPT) “reinvents the one-on-one interview around the premise that people reveal themselves most intimately when speaking not directly about themselves but about something they care about. Guests come prepared to talk about a person, and a place, and a thing that are important to them, allowing them to tell stories they never have before,” according to a statement issued to the press.

Initial guests Dick Cavett and Jane Smiley will be followed in future episodes by Susie Essman, Dave Cowens, Michael Pollan, John Hockenberry, Rickie Lee Jones, Ed Koch, Samantha Bee, R.L. Stine, Dan Savage, and Sir Roger Bannister. Each show also features an opening vignette from Cohen and a listener contribution. Shows, podcasts, photos, and extras are available at www.personplacething.org.

In addition to providing production support, the New York Council for the Humanities has created PPT Conversation Toolkits, which provide all the resources necessary to host the type of engaged, in-depth, and surprising conversations that are expected to be the hallmark of the PPT radio program. Each toolkit focuses on a particular PPT episode and includes questions for at least one of the guest’s three audio segments (person, place, or thing), as well as tips for creating engaging conversation and resources for further reflection.

New York State community organizations, libraries, and classrooms that host discussions using the Conversation Toolkits are eligible to receive a small honorarium from the Council. Toolkits and more information about receiving the honorarium can be found on the Council’s website.

The broadcast schedule of upcoming shows on WAMC are below:

Friday, February 17: Dick Cavett with Jane Smiley
Friday, March 16: Susie Essman with Dave Cowens
Friday, April 20: Michael Pollan with John Hockenberry
Friday, May 18: Ricky Lee Jones with Ed Koch
Friday, June 15: Samantha Bee with R.L. Stine
Friday, July 20: Dan Savage with Roger Bannister

Online Genealogy Standards Organization Formed


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The Family History Information Standards Organisation (FHISO) is a newly-formed international organization created to develop standards for the digital representation and sharing of family history and genealogical information. The standards are hoped to solve today’s interoperability issues independently of technology platforms, genealogy products or services. They are expected to provide opportunities for innovation and address robust user requirements such as search, capture and research administration.

In the fall of 2010, a group of technologists and users formed the “Build a BetterGEDCOM Project” to improve data exchange standards and to facilitate sharing between researchers. This grassroots effort has grown into an open forum for the exchange of ideas, and a substantial body of work has been produced. In order to realize the project goals, a more structured, organized environment was needed. It is hoped that FHISO will provide this environment.

The FHISO process is expected to identify practices and trends that require standardization and provide a transparent, collaborative environment that promotes innovation and consensus-building for the development of open standards. Following publication, the organization is expected to provide education and other support to encourage standards adoption and use. The FHISO standards will be publicly available at zero or minimal cost on a non-discriminatory basis according to an recently released FHISO statement. Anyone will be able to implement the standards for any purpose without royalty or license fees, the statement said.

FHISO membership is available to all who participate in the global family history and genealogical community. “The success of FHISO depends on the voluntary participation of its members representing all the global stakeholder groups,” the group said in its statement to the press. “In the standards-setting process, there is no substitute for the active involvement of vendors, developers, technologists, users and family history or genealogy organisations.”

FHISO can be found on the web, on twitter @fhisorg, on Facebook and Google+.

Quebec Family History Society Goes Online


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The Quebec Family History Society (QFHS) has announced the launch of its new website at www.qfhs.ca. The website features several new sections, such as Gary’s Genealogical Picks, research tips, surname interests, and a bulletin board.

QFHS members researching their ancestors in Quebec will benefit from the new Jacques Gagné Church Compilations in the members’ section. Long-time member Jacques Gagné has compiled historical information and the location of records for more than 1,000 English and French Protestant churches across the province, from 1759 to 1899.

The Quebec Family History Society is the largest English-language genealogical society in Quebec, Canada. Founded in 1977, it is a registered Canadian charity that helps people of all backgrounds research their family history. Its members, in addition to researching their Quebec roots, research historical records in all Canadian provinces and territories, the United States, the British Isles, and Western Europe. At the QFHS Heritage Centre and Library, members have free access to a collection of 6,000 books, manuscripts, and family histories, plus thousands of microfilms, microfiche, historical maps, and periodicals, and access to billions of online genealogical records.

Chris Pryslopski: The Hudson River Valley Review


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As Associate Editor of The Hudson River Valley Review, published by The Hudson River Valley Institute (HRVI), I get to explore the region that I call home and to share these finds with our readers.

While our website allows us to be as expansive as our associates and interns are interested in being, it is the journal that I find most rewarding with its approximately 150 pages per issue that forces us to focus our interests and energies into a concise product every six months. The Hudson River Valley Review is published each spring and autumn, alternating between thematic and open issues. Continue reading

Some Sources for Ideas and Inspiration


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The posts here at New York History demonstrate the robustness of New York’s historical enterprise and the creativity and energy of people working in the field. But the posts also show the need for more leadership, coordination, resources, and new approaches. This post lists some sources from beyond New York that might provide useful perspectives for discussions about strengthening the historical enterprise in our state. (It is an expanded version of the list in my article in Public Historian last August.) Continue reading

Strengthening the Historical Enterprise


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Several recent posts on this site have demonstrated the robustness and diversity of New York’s historical programs but also pointed to the limitations, challenges, and potential for much greater achievement. The special issue of the Public Historian on “Strengthening the Management of State History: Issues, Perspectives, and Insights from New York” last August analyzed these same issues.

That discussion needs to continue. In fact, we are overdue for an examination of the state’s historical enterprise and discussion of ways of boosting its effectiveness and impact.
New York is one of the nation’s oldest states, with a history stretching back more than 400 years. Continue reading

John Warren: A New York History Site Update


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It’s been two months since I announced that we’d be taking this site to the next level, and how far we have come! More than a dozen organizations and individuals from around the state have answered the call to contribute to this online effort to help foster a sense of shared mission and purpose among New York historians of every stripe.

Among those that have already joined us as regular contributors are State Historian and Chief Curator of the New York State Museum Robert Weible and President of the Association of Public Historian of NYS Gerald Smith; long-time public historians like Wanda Burch, who recently retired as site manager of Johnson Hall State Historic Site and Tompkins County Historian and AASLH columnist Carol Kammen; Northern New York historian Lawrence Gooley; and the two gentlemen who provided much of the impetus for this effort Bruce Dearstyne, who served as guest editor, for Public Historian‘s NYS issue, and Peter Feinman, Director of the Institute of History, Archaeology, and Education.

An equally esteemed list of those who have agreed to begin contributing in the coming months includes folks from the New York State Historical Association, the New York Folklore Society, the Museum of the City of New York, the NYC Archivists Round Table, NYS Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation, and the North Star Underground Railroad Museum.

We’re still in need of contributors, and in the coming weeks I’ll be reaching out to some of the less represented sectors of New York history. Given the response so far, I’m confident we’ll be growing in some exciting new ways. Suggestions for new contributors can be sent to me via e-mail by clicking on my by-line above, or left below in the comments.

In the meantime, spread the word about what we’re up to, and contribute to the discussions. You can follow us the following ways:

Met Announces Exhibition Catalogs Online Project


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The Metropolitan Museum of Art has announced the completion of a collaborative project coordinated by the Met’s Thomas J. Watson Library to preserve and digitize the early exhibition catalogs of Knoedler & Company, a renowned art gallery in New York.

In total, we digitized 898 catalogs, checklists, and unpublished materials from the Watson, Arcade, and Knoedler collections, comprising approximately 14,000 pages of content created between 1869 and 1946. Many items include extensive handwritten annotations; in several cases, more than one copy of a particular catalog was digitized to capture these unique additions.

Knoedler & Company was established in 1857 and has been among the most important art dealers in New York City for a century and a half. Following the pattern of Watson Library’s successful collaboration with the Frick Art Reference Library on the Macbeth Gallery project, we worked with Knoedler & Company and the Arcade libraries (Frick Art Reference Library, Brooklyn Museum Libraries and Archives, and the Museum of Modern Art Library) to identify Knoedler exhibition catalogs, pamphlets, and checklists in our collections to create a series that is as complete as possible.

Access to these items is available through the libraries’ respective online catalogs, Watsonline and Arcade, as well as the OCLC library cooperative catalog, WorldCat. The catalogs’ contents are full-text searchable in Watson Library’s digital content management system, CONTENTdm.

The project was made possible by the Lifchez Stronach Fund for Preservation at the Thomas J. Watson Library and funds from the Frick Art Reference Library.

Illustration: An image from the Catalogue of an exhibition of woodcuts by Albrecht Dürer : March 6th to April 7th, 1928.

NYG&B Expands Member Website


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The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society has announced that it has replaced its website with a new one that is hoped to be easier to use and includes expanded content for members.

All collections in the eLibrary may now be viewed in a browsable format, which allows the reader to easily scroll through documents and print multiple pages. Numerous unique records and digital publications have been added to the eLibrary.

For Example: The complete run of The New York Researcher and its predecessor publication The NYG&B Newsletter, which was first published in 1990. New guides to using newspapers, maps, and other resources have been created. Dozens of Research Aid articles have been brought up to date by the original authors. Individual guides to genealogical research in New York counties are in production; thirteen of a projected 62 guides are now online.

Additions to the eLibrary include:

* The family records contained in the American Bible Society Collection and an index to more than 8,000 names

* The complete set of over 500 NYG&B Member Biographies from the early 20th century

* 32 digitized books, including many volumes originally published as part of the series Collections of The NYG&B Society and several entries in the WPA’s Public Archives Inventory, Church Archives Inventory, and Guide to Vital Statistics series for New York City.

* Book two of the 1855 New York State Census for Manhattan’s Ward 17.

The cornerstone of the eLibrary is the full run of The NYG&B Record, which has been published quarterly since 1870 and forms the largest single collection of published material on families that lived in New York State. The collection is every-word searchable and is accompanied by a search engine based on an index to more than 1,000,000 names from the pages of The Record.

While access to the full digital resources of the website is available only to NYG&B members, there are several features available to both members and non-members:

* News You Can Use is updated frequently and references new resources and information pertinent to New York research.

* There are free guides on the following subjects: Getting Started on Your Family History; Finding New York Vital Records; Genealogical and Historical Societies in the New York Region; Heraldry; Heritage and Lineage Societies; and Hiring Professional Genealogical Researchers.

* The Genealogical Exchange allows anyone to submit a specific query about a genealogical question related to New York.

* Information about upcoming programs offered by the NYG&B and the New York Family History School is also available; tickets may be purchased through the website.

Frick Art Reference Library Photo Archive Goes Online


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Scholars in multiple disciplines around the world have long heralded the Photoarchive of the Frick Art Reference Library as uniquely valuable to research that relates to object-oriented study of works of art. Without this repository of an estimated 1.2 million images of works created by more than 40,000 artists, curators, art dealers, and authors of monographic catalogs would be hard pressed to find visual documentation of unpublished art and the preparatory studies, versions, copies, or forgeries that relate to those and even to more famous works.

In recent years, the Frick’s Photoarchive has also played a key role in helping researchers compile provenance information about art looted during World War II. Lynn Nicholas, the highly respected author of The Rape of Europa: The Fate of Europe’s Treasures in the Third Reich and the Second World War (New York, 1994), recently noted that “to do provenance research, of course, one of the very first places to go is the Frick…”

Until now, online access to these valuable resources has been limited to searches for the artists’ files, the results of which indicate the amount of material the Photoarchive has for a given artist, but no specific information about individual works of art. For that, researchers had to visit the Library premises, and manually browse the photographs stored on file.

The Frick Art Reference Library and its partners in the New York Art Resources Consortium (NYARC)—the libraries of The Museum of Modern Art and the Brooklyn Museum have announced that through a complex process of data migration, all of the Photoarchive’s research database records created since 1996 (and all future records created both for the existing collection and for new acquisitions) may now be accessed via NYARC’s online catalog Arcade.

These online records in Arcade offer detailed historical documentation for the works of art, including basic information about the artist, title, medium, dimensions, date, and owner of the work, as well as former attributions, provenance, variant titles, records of exhibition and condition history, and biographical information about portrait subjects.

Andrew W. Mellon Chief Librarian Stephen Bury comments, “For us the incorporation of the Photoarchive records in Arcade means that the richness of all of the Frick’s research collections will be available to scholars everywhere and the image collection will be discoverable as easily as our other special collections of auction catalogues and exhibition ephemera through a single search in Arcade. We know that the road that will take us to full digitization of the archive is long (currently online access is possible to only 125,000 items in the archive, but the Frick is committed to the digital future of this exceptional resource).”

To cite a typical example of the advantages users will gain from the seamless searchabilty across text and image collections that the Frick now makes possible: locating the catalog of the Stroganoff sale at Lepke in 1931 now yields not only the publication, itself, but also the works of art listed documented as sold there by the Photoarchive, one of which was part of the Goudstikker collection that was recently restituted to the heirs.

In addition to global access to the historical documentation for works of art recorded in the Photoarchive, a new interface, the Frick Digital Image Archive has been created to link the images of 15,000 works of art captured during the Frick’s photography expeditions throughout the United States from 1922 to 1967 to the documentation in Arcade.

Researchers can retrieve images by keyword or field searching, display large preview images, download small jpeg image files, and link to the matching Arcade records. This image archive, which may be accessed via the website of The Frick Collection, was made possible by funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Henry Luce Foundation.

The NEH also designated the project as part of its “We the People” initiative to encourage and strengthen the teaching study and understanding of American history and culture. Through this two-year project, the Frick digitized 15,000 endangered negatives within the larger collection of 60,000 Library negatives and developed the interface to make the images freely available online. The negatives were the products of photography expeditions during the first half of the twentieth century to Alabama, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

In many case Frick Art Reference Library the images record early states of the works of art, prior to restoration or deterioration, and in some instances, they remain the only record of a work that has been subsequently lost or destroyed. Much of the documentation for these works is also uniquely recorded at the Frick because it was obtained from the owners (particularly true of the provenance and portrait subject information) or from scholars who consulted the images years after they were captured by the Library’s photography team.

During the course of the NEH project, Library staff updated the ownership and attribution information for nearly 1,500 works, relying on notations by researchers of the past and on the Inventories of American Paintings and Sculpture online database. Access to these images will complement the collection of 25,000 Frick Library negatives earlier digitized with the support of ARTstor and the Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Foundation and available through subscription to ARTstor.

With this new online access to the Frick Photoarchive research database records and the digital image archive, the Frick is now poised to incorporate a growing number of documented images from its visual resource holdings. These images complement other visual resources contributed by the NYARC partners, thereby ensuring that a broader community of researchers will have access to these unique collections.

Website Challenges Your American Revolution Knowledge


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American history enthusiasts will find lots to enjoy on The American Revolution Center’s new website (www.AmericanRevolutionCenter.org). It features an interactive timeline that allows you to virtually “handle” objects from the Center’s collection, a reading list, a searchable database of lesson plans, video podcasts, and the opportunity to test your knowledge about the American Revolution. By answering demographic questions, you can compare your answers with others who have taken the quiz.

Visit the site to take the quiz and find out more about why we now enjoy the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The American Revolution Center is a non-partisan, not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to engaging the public in the history and enduring legacy of the American Revolution. The Center is establishing The Museum of the American Revolution in historic Philadelphia.

New Website Features ‘Big Maps’


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There is a new New York City addition to the Big Map Blog, a bird’s-eye view of the Brooklyn Bridge in 1885 made by noted print makers Currier & Ives. The image is freely downloadable by anyone at its highest resolution [8,999px × 6,293px].

The Big Map Blog was begun in March and already has a considerable number of large, unusual maps. “I came across many of the maps you’ll see on the Big Map Blog while doing research for a film I’m working on,” The Big Map Blog’s curator, who calls himself 59 King, reports. “While searching, I found thousands of old, beautiful maps that are sadly being kept from the public that deserves them — sometimes by clumsy or unwieldy government ftp sites, and other times by archives with steep fees for research, and steeper fees for reproduction. I felt strongly that something should be done about this.”

The site adds new maps five days a week. There are also several other NYC maps on the Big Map Blog, which can be found using the New York City tag.

1871 Canadian Census Now Online


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Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter is reporting that Library and Archives Canada has placed the 1871 census online. 1871 marked the first regularly scheduled collection of national statistics. The information covers the four provinces that were part of the Dominion of Canada in 1871: New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec.

The online database provides digitized images of original census returns featuring the name, age, country or province of birth, nationality, religion, and occupation of Canada’s residents at the time. The database is searchable by nominal information such as Name, Given Name (s) and Age, and/or geographical information such as Province, District Name, District Number, and Sub-district Number.

The 1871 Canadian Census is available free of charge at: www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/databases/census-1871/index-e.html

You can learn more about the 1871 census at http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/databases/census-1871/001101-2000-e.html

New iPhone Tours Relate Immigrant Experiences


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Past Preservers and Crimson Bamboo have launch two new historical walking tours related to New York History for Rama, an app for the iPhone. The first explores the construction of the Statue of Liberty; the second that takes you through the immigrants’ ordeal of Ellis Island. Both were written by Hannah Murray.

“From disembarkation to medical inspection to entrance into the land of opportunity (or, for the unlucky or politically unpalatable few, deportation back home), Hannah Murray’s Ellis Island shows this place as the hopeful immigrants who arrived her experienced it,” stated Michael Carroll, co-founder of Crimson Bamboo, the creator of the Rama app. “The tour recreates on your iPhone the history of this point of entry for the aspiring immigrants to whom over 40% of Americans trace their ancestry.”

Ellis Island is the sequel to Murray’s Land of Liberty tour, which captures the history and idealism behind the construction of the nearby Statue of Liberty. For $1.99 the tour continues to explore the theme of distinctive sites symbolic for Americans and their heritage, and the stories of the thousands of individuals who left the Old World for the New. It is illustrated with thought provoking and evocative contemporary archival photographs.

“I have been captivated by Ellis Island ever since I visited New York nine years ago,” explained Murray, who has previously worked as a volunteer at the Benjamin Franklin House in London, as well as at the British Museum. She describes history as her passion above all others and will shortly be taking a Masters degree in Public History at Royal Holloway. “I have studied the immigrant experience at university and the impact that it had on American society is what drew me to Ellis Island – the myth of an inclusive environment is somewhat dented by the restriction of Asian and eastern European immigrants, however. Photographs from the early 1920s show immigrants in detention pens, waiting to be sent back home, a part of Ellis Island which has been downplayed in contrast to the thousands leaving its shores to pursue the American Dream — a life which, for some, was never that smooth in reality.”

Rama can be downloaded from iTunes and was named as one of the ten best new travel apps by BBC Travel in 2010.

NYS Archives Online Exhibit of Rare 9-11 Images


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The New York State Archives, the nation’s largest repository of records of a state government, has introduced a new online exhibition entitled Ground Zero from the Air.

Based upon an archival collection of images commissioned from a private contractor by the New York State Office for Technology (NYS OFT), the website features aerial, infrared and computer generated imagery of Ground Zero, as well as photo images of recovery efforts. Also included
is a directory of related websites and New York State Government records contained within the New York State Archives related to the World Trade Center attacks and subsequent response efforts.

Principally accumulated during a series of flights that occurred between September 15 and October 22, 2001, the aerial imagery collected for NYS OFT was used to direct the efforts of first responders, identify unstable areas, pinpoint stairwells and elevator shafts, and coordinate removal of debris.

“As we consider the events of September 11, 2001 and the heroic efforts of first responders and, indeed, of many levels of local, state, and federal government in the weeks and months following the attacks, we at the New York State Archives committed ourselves to putting together an online exhibition that provided a unique look at this history event
for the 10th anniversary,” said New York State Archivist Christine W. Ward.

Ground Zero from the Air is the newest in a series of projects undertaken by the New York State Archives. Following the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center, the New York State Archives was instrumental in the creation of the World Trade Center Documentation Task Force, a
multi-institution group committed to identification, collection and preservation of public and private records that chronicle the attack and its aftermath and to determine future steps necessary to insure that the historical record is as complete as possible for use by future
generations.

Ground Zero from the Air may be found on the New York State Archives webpages online.

Photo: Ground Zero seen from above. Courtesy the NYS Archives.

New-York Historical, NYC Media Offer Video Shorts


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The New-York Historical Society and NYC Media, the official network of the City of New York, have partnered to produce When “Did the Statue of Liberty Turn Green? & Other Questions about New York City,” a special series of 90 one-minute videos that feature the staff of the New-York Historical Society answering some of the most captivating questions ever posed to them about the City’s unique history. The video series airs every evening at 7:30pm on NYC life (Channel 25) in anticipation of the reopening of the New-York Historical Society’s Museum galleries on November 11, 2011. The series can also be viewed online on the NYC Media Video on Demand player.

“Inquisitive viewers will get the answers they’ve been looking for as the New-York Historical Society shares its vast knowledge and archive in our new series,” said Diane Petzke, general manager, NYC Media. “As part of our ongoing efforts to partner with local cultural organizations, we’re delighted to bring this fun and engaging perspective of City history to New Yorkers.”

“We are pleased to partner with NYC Media as we count down toward the re-opening of our galleries 90 days from now,” said Louise Mirrer, president and CEO of the New-York Historical Society. “As the oldest cultural institution in New York City, we have a history that is closely tied to the history of the City as a whole. What better way to celebrate than by exploring the fascinating, sometimes surprising questions put to us by curious New Yorkers and visitors?”

On Veterans’ Day, Friday, November 11, 2011, the New-York Historical Society will throw open its doors as never before after completing a three-year renovation of its Central Park West building. The face of the institution—the first museum established in New York—will be transformed as visitors of all ages are welcomed to this great cultural destination. Visitors will experience brand-new gallery spaces that are more open and hospitable, both to major exhibitions and to a vastly expanded public. Highlights include, a multi-screen presentation of American history seen through the lens of New York City; the DiMenna Children’s History Museum, the first of its kind in New York, where the past comes to life through the stories of real children; a new museum restaurant operated by Stephen Starr Restaurants in a light-filled, modern space; and a permanent exhibition taking visitors on an interactive journey from colonial times to the September 11th attacks, incorporating high-definition digital screens and original artifacts. For more information about the New-York Historical Society’s re-opening, visit nyhistory.org.

New Collection of Union Labels Available Online


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In 1889, in response to growth in the number of labor unions, New York State passed a law offering unions an opportunity to register their labels, names, brands, or other devices with the Secretary of State. It was thought that this procedure of officially recognizing the uniqueness of each labor association or union logo would help avoid the confusion that might result from similar designs.

The law was amended in 1943 to substitute the Department of Labor as the registering agency. Hundreds of labels were registered during the period from 1901 to 1942, the time period represented by a new collection of online images hosted by the New York State Archive [link].

Most union labels were made of paper and usually fairly simple in design; a few were colorful and elaborate. One of the devices registered was a branding iron designed to literally “make an impression.” However, the labels were intended to do more than just identify an association of people who made a particular product or service; all projected, explicitly or implicitly, the pride that members had in their trade, while encouraging solidarity with workers everywhere.