As part of a $59,966 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Humanities Collections and Reference Resources planning grant for the preservation and digitization of collections awarded to Historic Huguenot Street (HHS) in April, historians and authors Firth Haring Fabend and David William Voorhees have begun a scholarly evaluation of historical New Paltz documents at HHS and partner institutions: the Town of New Paltz, the Reformed Church of New Paltz, and the Haviland-Heidgerd Historical Collection at the Elting Memorial Library.
The project began with a two-day site visit July 18–19, during which Fabend and Voorhees viewed hundreds of original manuscripts, accounts books, and other documents ranging from the 17th through late 19th century.
At the conclusion of their visit, Fabend and Voorhees met with representatives from all four institutions to share their preliminary findings. Those taking part in the July 19 meeting were New Paltz Town Supervisor Neil Bettez, Town Historian and Coordinator of the Haviland-Heidgerd Historical Collection Carol Johnson, Reverend Mark Mast and Kevin Cook from the Reformed Church, Digital Services Librarian and advisor on the project Jennifer Palmentiero from the Southeastern Library Resource Council, researcher and chair of the HHS Archives Sub-Committee Joan Kelley, and HHS curatorial staff Josephine Bloodgood, Ashley Trainor, and Carrie Allmendinger.
Over the next several months, Fabend and Voorhees will draft an assessment report elaborating the importance of these documents to humanities research, which will help prioritize the collections for preservation and digitization. Subsequent phases of the planning project consist of condition assessment of the collections by a team of conservators from the Conservation Center of Art and Historic Artifacts and development of digitization guidelines.
Firth Haring Fabend is a historian with a Ph.D. from New York University. She is the author of two award-winning books published by Rutgers University Press on the Dutch in Early New York and the Dutch in 19th-century New York. Both books, as well as some 30 essays and/or chapters in books on these topics, were firmly based in primary sources, including in the court records of Bergen, Rockland, and Ulster Counties, town records, and church records. A third book, New Netherland in a Nutshell: A Concise History of the Dutch Colony in North America (2012), was commissioned by the New Netherland Institute and is in its second printing. She was awarded the Medal of the Huguenot Society of America in 2000 for her scholarship and served as Past President of the Society from 2004–7. She is the president of the Jacob Leisler Institute for the Study of Early New York History.
David William Voorhees received a Ph.D. in history from NYU. He is director of the Jacob Leisler Institute for the Study of Early New York History and managing editor of de Halve Maen, a journal devoted to New Netherland studies. His published works include two volumes of translations of the Records of the Reformed Protestant Church of Flatbush, Kings County, New York, (1998, 2009), as well as numerous essays on the colonial period in America. He published numerous essays relating to the connections between Jacob Leisler and the French Reformed (Huguenot) communities and was the Huguenot Society of America Medalist in 1993. He compiled an inventory of French- and Dutch-language documents held by HHS in 2004–5.
For more information about Historic Huguenot Street, click here.
Photo of Members of the New Paltz Historical Documents focus group, pictured left to right: New Paltz Town Supervisor Neil Bettez, Jennifer Palmentiero, Firth Fabend, Joan Kelley, David W. Voorhees, Carol Johnson, Carrie Allmendinger, Kevin Cook, Rev. Mark Mast, and Josephine Bloodgood (not pictured Town Clerk Rosanna Mazzaccari and Ashley Trainor). Photo by Ashley Trainor.