Transforming the Learning Experience
The State Research Library’s collections are a resource for scholars and students of New York State history.
Fostering Tomorrow's Research
The State Research Library usually awards five research residencies annually through the Quinn-Library Research Residency Program and the Anna K. and Mary E. Cunningham Research Residency Program. Six residencies were awarded in 2009, including a special Cunningham-Quinn residency to mark the 400th anniversary of the Dutch era in American colonial history. Awards nurture scholars who use the Library’s unique collections to throw light on New York State’s history. Topics for 2009 included African-Dutch contributions to North American culture and the mercantilist system in New Netherland and Colonial New York.
Scholars, researchers, and students from around the world attended the 32nd annual Rensselaerswijck Seminar sponsored by the New Netherland Institute, the nonprofit organization devoted to securing funding for the New Netherland Project and its programs. Kiliaen van Rensselaer's Colonie: The Beginning of European Settlement of the Upper Hudson took place in October and featured an opening presentation and book signing by famed author Russell Shorto. New Netherland Project Director Charles Gehring and others including Henry Hoff, editor of The New England Historical and Genealogical Register; food historian Peter G. Rose; and historical artist Len Tantillo were among the presenters.
Researching the New World
The Research Library's collections of Dutch colonial materials stepped into the international limelight in 2009 with the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson's voyage and the 35th anniversary of the Library's New Netherland Project. Since 1974, Dr. Charles Gehring and a small group of staff and volunteers have worked to translate and preserve the early Dutch colonial documents in both the Library’s and the State Archives' collections – some of the oldest documents of America's history. The program has achieved international status, inspiring the best seller Island at the Center of the World by Russell Shorto, producing publications, generating a nationally touring exhibit, and energizing researchers and scholars around the globe. In July, a CBS News Sunday Morning story on the 2009 Quadricentennial thrust the New Netherland Project onto the national stage.
The Project was honored by a three-year matching grant of $280,000 from the Netherlands Government to support the ongoing work of the New Netherland Project and fund a New Netherland Research Center, where scholars, researchers, and students from the global community can learn about and study the Dutch era of American colonial history.
Now in its initial stages, the New Netherland Research Center (NNRC) is a world class cultural resource that promotes and supports scholarship and knowledge about the seventeenth-century Dutch colony of New Netherland in North America. The NNRC web site can be accessed at www.nysl.nysed.gov/newnetherland/.
The State Research Library digitizes historic documents in its collections to both preserve originals and make them accessible through more useable online formats. Some of the collections digitized in 2009 include:
Journals and other papers of the Sanford Family. The writings of Mary Buchanan Sanford, wife of former State Senator and Chancellor of New York State Nathan Sanford, and their son Robert, provide a rare and detailed glimpse into the personal and social life of this prominent upper class family in 19th century New York.
A compilation of papers related to New York State in the Revolutionary War. Included are rosters and other documents of men serving in the Revolutionary forces of colonial America along with general indexes and indexes of commanding officers.
Documents, Committee Reports, and the journal of the historic constitutional convention of 1821. The 1821 Constitution was the first to be submitted to voters for approval and provided for all future amendments to be approved by the voters. This constitution gave the Governor veto power, allowed the Legislature to overrule a Governor's veto with a 2/3 majority vote, and expanded the right to vote.
Manuscript diary of Aaron Hamton. This 112-page diary documents Hamton's 1813 journey with fellow Quakers to the westernmost part of New York State and provides a personal glimpse into the early history of a young nation and what was then the western frontier.
Map of the Hudson River showing the route of the Hudson River Day Line. (Fred B. Abele Transportation History Collection.)