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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 16, 2018
For More Information Contact:

JP O’Hare or Jeanne Beattie

(518) 474-1201

www.nysed.gov

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New York State Archives Receives $125,000 Grant to Conserve Historical Records from Revolutionary War Era

The New York State Archives and the Archives Partnership Trust have received a $125,760 “Save America’s Treasures” grant from the National Park Service and the Institute of Museum and Library Services for the conservation and digitization of historical court records and other important documents of the Revolutionary War era. The documents are eligible for the grant because of their national significance and their poor and fragile condition. Upon the completion of the grant project, which begins November 1, the documents will be conserved, digitized and placed online on the New York State Archives website for research use.

The court records in the State Archives that will be conserved at a professional laboratory include over 400 pages of indictments of Loyalists (American colonists who stayed loyal to the British Crown during the Revolutionary War) and Supreme Court minutes for 1775-1783 (both royal and state courts). Other documents to be conserved are fire-damaged minutes and papers of the royal governor and council in New York City (1776-1783) in the State Archives and loyalty oaths to the Crown during the war and military enlistment papers, held by the New York State Library.

“With more than 250 million documents in its collection, the State Archives is an important steward of New York’s history,” said Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa. “We are grateful to the National Park Service and the Institute of Museum and Library Services for this grant that will help conserve important documents of New York’s Revolutionary War era history. Once these documents are conserved and digitized, I encourage students, scholars and educators to use these records to learn about an important chapter of New York’s early history.”

“Thanks to this Save America’s Treasures grant, the State Archives will conserve and digitize these vitally important records that may tell untold stories of the Revolutionary War era,” said State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia. “This treasure trove of documents will soon be available for researchers and scholars to study and discover stories from New York’s early days as a colony in the 1700s.”

“We are proud to receive this Save America’s Treasures grant, which will enable us to preserve and make available extremely fragile, but remarkably important documents from New York’s Revolutionary War period,” said State Archivist Thomas Ruller. “The records will be a critically valuable resource for scholars and anyone who is interested in New York during the Revolutionary War.”

“As the State Archives’ non-profit partner, we are pleased to help build support for special preservation projects,” said Stephen Pagano, Board Chair of the New York State Archives Partnership Trust. “We are grateful to our donors and the New York State Organization of the Daughters of the American Revolution for providing seed funding to begin our efforts to preserve these great documents, which helped us to secure this Save America’s Treasures grant. We are committed to continue to assist the State Archives preservation efforts and to increase support for and awareness of the entire collection.” 

The grant project title, “Enemies of the State: Rediscovering the Patriot-Loyalist Struggle in Revolutionary New York,” alludes to the 1779 statute that authorized prosecution in the Supreme Court of Judicature of “Enemies of this State,” on the charge of treason. New York was a pivotal state during the American Revolution, militarily and politically. The court and other records to be conserved contain detailed but unutilized information about the state’s vigorous proceedings against suspected Loyalists, and about the royal government’s continuing operations in New York City until the end of the war.

Archival records of New York’s Unified Court System contain unique information about court operations and caseloads, trends in civil litigation and criminal prosecution, changes in civil and criminal procedure, the decisions of judges, the practices of trial attorneys, the rights and status of persons, and the overall impact of the courts on New York’s society since the seventeenth century. These records often provide the only documentation of ordinary people, including those who were marginalized, especially in the colonial and early national periods.

Many historical records of New York’s courts have been lost over time. An important success in preserving a major collection of those that survive, including the records that will be conserved under this grant project, occurred in early 2017, when nearly 2,000 cubic feet of records of the Supreme Court of Judicature and the Court of Chancery were transferred from the New York County Clerk’s Office to the New York State Archives in Albany. These records joined nearly 5,000 cubic feet of records from upstate court offices that were transferred to the State Archives in 1982, thereby creating a complete, statewide resource of historical court records dating from 1683 to 1847.   

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's libraries and museums. It advances, supports, and empowers America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. Its vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities. To learn more, visit the Institute of Museum and Library Services website and follow the Institute on Facebook and Twitter.

The New York State Archives is a program of the State Education Department’s Office of Cultural Education. Located on Madison Avenue in Albany, the Archives is open Monday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. except on legal holidays. Further information can be obtained by calling (518) 474-8955 or visiting the Archives’ website.

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