Grant to NYSHA Library Broadens Access to Historical Documents
Since the New York State Historical Association moved to Cooperstown in the 1940s, its Research Library has gathered hundreds of manuscript collections. Most of them are stored in boxes, making access difficult for researchers, both professional and avocational. To begin to remedy this, the library was recently awarded a grant to make manuscripts spanning the 18th to the 21st centuries more accessible to researchers and the community by putting finding aids to the collections online. The manuscripts include business, personal, family, military, and agricultural records.
The South Central Regional Library Council awarded the grant to NYSHA, in partnership with the Farmer’s Museum, as part of the council's Regional Bibliographic Data Bases and Interlibrary Resources Sharing program. The $7,556 grant will be used to digitize finding aids for collections in NYSHA's library. Finding aids exist for the larger manuscript collections, listing the contents of each box. But the finding aids themselves are not digitized and only accessible by visiting the Research Library, so researchers cannot check our online catalog to know about specific contents in the many cubic foot boxes of manuscripts the library owns. By digitizing the finding aids and placing them online, researchers can learn the contents of collections before visiting Cooperstown to examine the manuscripts first-hand.
The finding aids for these collections will be available to the public on NYSHA's Pathfinder online catalog (pathfinder.nysha.org) and on New York Heritage (nyheritage.org), a research portal for students, educators, historians, genealogists, and anyone else who is interested in learning more about the people, places and institutions of New York State. The value of making finding aids available online has been tested in the past few years. A small number of such finding aids have been put on the Library’s website; researchers have discovered them and learned of the existence of specific historical documents that they otherwise would not have known about.
The project will make over 50 boxed collections much more accessible to researchers. These collections are all unique, one-of-a-kind manuscript collections. They span the 18th to the 21st centuries and cover a broad range of topics such as business records, personal and family records, military records, and agricultural records.
The public may view these collections by making an appointment to visit the Research Library’s Special Collections Department during its weekday hours 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. The Library is also open many Saturday afternoons during the school year.
The Research Library is open to visitors and researchers year-round. Its collections include over 90,000 books and bound periodicals, manuscripts, newspapers, and photographs. Holdings on New York’s state and local history, agricultural history, 19th century life, art, and family history are particularly well represented. The library is located on State Route 80, north of Cooperstown, next to the Fenimore Art Museum. Visit library.nysha.org or call (607) 547-1470 for more information.
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