The marks of the American Revolution on New York, from the adoption of a State constitution early in the war to the post-war effects of the land bounty system, were evident for decades after the conclusion of peace. Several of the most important military campaigns of the Revolutionary War were conducted within the boundaries of New York State. Geographically, the State was crucial to the war effort, containing as it did a major port city, a water corridor to Canada via Lakes George and Champlain, and the eastern-most boundary of the Great Lakes. More lasting in effect than military campaigns, however, were the social and political impacts of the war on New York.
The Revolutionary War records of New York State government provide researchers with a variety of information on the political and military conduct of the war in New York. Records created by the Revolutionary and postwar era State legislatures (and the British colonial Council and governor), the comptroller, the secretary of State, and the surveyor general largely consist of administrative minutes and correspondence, pay receipts, accounts, and land patent or sales records. These records are particularly useful for research into the administration of State government during the Revolution, and research on the long term effects of the war on financial and land policy in the State. In addition, there is information on thousands of soldiers, although most of this information relates to payments and bounties received rather than to military service or personal history. Postwar records relating to the settlement of accounts, land bounty rights, and confiscations of loyalists' property illustrate the lasting effects of the war. There is considerable information concerning the settlement of estates confiscated from prominent loyalists during the war.
The records described in this guide are part of the holdings of the New York State Archives. The State Archives, part of the Office of Cultural Education in the State Education Department, is mandated to identify, acquire, preserve, and make available for use the permanently valuable records of State government. Since the opening of the Archives storage and research facility in the Cultural Education Center in 1978, over 52,000 cubic feet of records have been transferred to the State Archives, and additional records are accessioned continually. The records described here consist of 75 series totalling nearly 120 cubic feet. The level of description varies among series; in many cases, container listings and/or indexes are available at the Archives. Many of the records have been microfilmed, and microfilm copies are available on inter-library loan or for purchase. Microfilming of selected records was supported in part by grant funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
The entries in this finding aid are grouped by general subject category (see Contents), each with a short introduction. However, there is much overlap because many series contain information on more than one subject. Therefore, researchers should carefully consult the index at the back of this publication to identify all series relating to a particular topic.
Entries for each series in this guide provide the name of the originating agency or office, series title, dates, quantity, arrangement, informational content of the records, an indication of available finding aids and indexes, a note indicating availability in microform, and an indication of restrictions due to the fragile condition of some of the records.
Many of the records listed in this guide were severely damaged by the State Capitol Fire of 1911, and access may be restricted due to their fragile physical condition. Use of microfilm copies or published versions of the records may be required by the Archives depending on the physical condition of the original records.
It is unfortunate that because of fire damage some of the series listed in this guide have negligible informational value. Although they are listed here for the sake of completeness and to accurately represent the breadth of State Archives holdings, these fragmentary records offer slight help to researchers interested in individual data or specific case knowledge. Prior to visiting the Archives, researchers should request information on the condition or completeness of the series in question.
The State Archives and Records Administration lacks the resources to undertake searches for individual names not linked to specific documents. Archives staff will, however, make every effort to locate copies of specific documents which researchers have identified through use of published sources or unpublished indexes available for on-site use at the State Archives. Photoduplication services are available from the Archives on a fee- for-service basis.
Records in the State Archives may be used at the Archives' research room. Certain record series have been microfilmed by the State Archives, and the film may be borrowed on inter-library loan or purchased. For further information please contact us.
This finding aid was prepared by Duncan O. McCollum, Senior Archivist.