Tag Archives: New York State Library

Lecture: The Excavations of Fort Orange

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.