Historical Document Inventory (HDI)

The Historical Documents Inventory (HDI) was a project to locate, identify, describe and report all of the manuscripts and archives materials in New York State repositories. Although items or collections that are part of the HDI appear in the NYS Library's online catalog, they are not held at the New York State Library in Albany; they reside in approximately 1,250 repositories across New York State.

NYS Library Catalog: In the brief record that displays in your list of results, you can identify any items that are held by HDI participants because they will list list the location as something like "1 copy available at Historical Document Inventory in REPOSITORY." For example:

Example of catalog search results that list an HDI item.

To find out which repository holds the item, click on the "Details" button to get more information about the item. Then look for the LOCATION field, which identifies the HDI repository.

In the record:

  1. Click on the "Catalog Record" tab (labeled 1 in the screenshot below).
  2. Look for the LOCATION field at the bottom of the record (labeled 2 on the screenshot) to get the name of the library or archives that actually holds the materials.

Screenshot of a catalog record, indicating where to find the location of HDI materials.

WorldCat: HDI records also appear in OCLC's Worldcat. They show up as being held by:

New York State Historical Documents
Albany, NY 12230 United States

Unfortunately, the Worldcat record doesn't include the LOCATION field with the actual location of the materials. If you originally found a record in Worldcat, you will also need to then look the item up in the NYS Library catalog and check the LOCATION field to identify the HDI repository, as in the instructions above. (To search only the HDI and not the State Library's collection, select "Historic Documents Inventory" on the Library pull-down list.)

HDI Background

New York State has many institutions that maintain the documentary evidence of its history. Manuscripts and archival materials that chronicle historical events on a local, State or national level are held by:

  • 500 historical agencies,
  • 2,200 public libraries, and
  • 175 colleges and universities.

However, the great variety of repositories and the lack of a comprehensive finding aid can made it extremely difficult for researchers to locate the primary source materials needed for the study of New York State's history. To rectify this situation, in 1978 the New York Historical Resources Center began the Historical Documents Inventory, a Statewide survey of manuscripts and archives collections in repositories that are open to the public. The project was completed in 1993.

HDI Guides

The survey resulted in the creation of a series of print guides, arranged by county, that include either repository descriptions or summaries of the holdings of particular repositories. These guides (Guide to historical resources in _xxx_ County, published by Cornell University) may be

No determination was made as to the historical or research value of particular collections. Therefore, all documentary materials found in the repositories were reported in the HDI guides.

Last Updated: August 11, 2017