Appendix II - Executive Officer Report
Archives Partnership Trust Board Meeting for March 24, 2011
Hackman Research Residency Program
The Hackman Research Residency program, administered by the New York State Archives Partnership Trust, is entering its 15th year. Nearly 150 researchers have been awarded Hackman Research Residencies to conduct research in the historical government records held by the New York State Archives.
We received 17 applications for the Hackman Research Residency program year starting June 1, 2011 and ending May 31, 2012. An internal review committee, consisting of staff of the State Archives and State Library, has reviewed those applications. The internal review committee has recommended that 13 applications be forwarded to the external Selection Committee for their consideration. Four applications are not being forwarded because staff determined that records in the State Archives do not support the proposed research. The meeting of the Selection Committee is scheduled for Friday, April 29, 2011. That committee includes board members Nedda Allbray and Ann Buttenwieser, among others.
Here's an update on current residents: Stephen Staggs, a Ph.D. candidate at Western Michigan University, received his second Hackman residency award to continue research in Dutch administrative records, 1630-1664. He studying the changing perceptions of Native Americans, comparing and contrasting the theories of Dutch theologians and ministers in the Netherlands and the actual observations of Dutch officials and settlers as recorded in the Dutch records in the New York State Archives.
Maeve Kane, a Ph.D. candidate at Cornell University, used War of 1812 service claims by Seneca, Cayuga, and Onondaga veterans of the War of 1812 (or their widows) to study the material culture (clothing, equipment, arms) of native warriors during that conflict.
Dorothy Tobin, a Ph.D. candidate at Binghamton University, SUNY, completed her residency. She made intensive use of governors' appointment files to study the appointment process and politics of 110 woman appointees during the first generation of woman suffrage, 1917-1942.
The State Archives is grateful for the Trust's financial support of an intern project to rehouse, conserve, and promote access to series A4114, Accounts submitted by local officials detailing monies raised and men furnished during the Civil War, 1861-1866. The records provide unique data on the contributions of local communities to the Union war effort and are important for researchers studying the experiences of New Yorkers on the home front during the Civil War. They provide a nice contrast to the State Archives' strong holdings of military service records of individual soldiers. As the nation celebrates the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, the Archives anticipates increased interest in these and other Civil War-related holdings from groups such as genealogists, local historians, teachers, and members of the general public.
APT interns Elizabeth Barone and Cecelia Corrigan have worked diligently the past two months (starting on February 15th) to flatten and rehouse these records, many of which were originally tri-folded and stuffed into dirty envelopes that were bundled together with string.To date, the interns have surface cleaned 611 documents, manually flattened 849 documents, placed 1,631 documents intoalkaline folders, and have spent 81 hours creating a finding aid that will be formatted for the web.The documents of only fifteen New York towns remain to be processed and indexed.
The project has generated interest in work beyond the original project proposal. With an Archives Magazine article in mind, Elizabeth Barone is researching the lives of twoNew York State soldiers eulogized in the Civil War documentsprocessed during the internship, while Cecelia Corrigan has asked to use her conservation skills to separate many of the fragile documents that remain dangerously glued together.
Ventana al Pasado
Archives Intern Yaima Centeno completed translating into Spanish web-based materials and descriptive metadata related to Ventana al Pasado, a bilingual web-based research collection that links the Latino-related records housed in ten New York State archival repositories. NYSA staff refined the Spanish version webpages and created style sheets to present the finding aids on the website. Remaining tasks include proofreading the Spanish language text. Ventana al Pasado or Window on the Past contains over 3,000 digital images, including nearly 1,000 digital images from the Centro de Estudios Puertorriqueños, http://www.archives.nysed.gov/a/research/ventana/. The images document the social, political, and cultural lives of New York's Hispanic and Latino communities and include photographs, documents, pamphlets, and other primary source documents. Yaima's work enabled us to provide Spanish metadata for images from Centro, Hostos Community College, and Hofstra University. This project was funded through a grant to the State Archives from the National Endowment for the Humanities; the Archives Partnership Trust generously supported for the translation.
We have been working with the Governor’s Office since January as they develop schedules for their records and identify record from Governor Paterson’s administration that will come to the State Archives. It appears that we will receive a significant volume of important series of records (most of which have been considered to be “public,” i.e., without restrictions, which is a significant amount of important material. We have also heard that the agreement between Govenror Paterson and Cornell has not materialized and I am hearing that all the records will come to the Archives. I have a meeting next week about this and expect that we will be asked to resurrect the draft protocol for dealing with privileged records that we were negotiating with the Governor when time ran out at the end of last year. I hope to have good news to report at our next meeting.
Transfers of Agency Records
Agencies, particularly those whose leadership is changing with the new Administration, are transferring executive records to the Archives. The Archives has also captured websites of all agencies, authorities and many commissions at the end of the calendar year when leadership is changing.
Open Government Legislation
Last week I participated in an Assembly Roundtable on Open Government sponsored by the Committee on Government Operations to discuss several bills that individual members have proposed that involve making electronic versions of records available on the Internet. The Archives is committed to broad access to government information, but because we have expert knowledge of the huge volume of records created by NYS government (almost 2 million cubic feet or between 2 and 4 billion pages) and we know how expensive it is to scan and make searchable records for Internet use as well as to maintain these records in accessible form into the future, I have been urging the Legislature to take a more selective approach to making government records available. I’ll be working with Legislative staff to craft language that will ensure that the most requested records are put on the Internet and also help them develop a plan for doing so.
Local Government Records Management Improvement Fund
This fund, supported by fees collected by County Clerks, has experienced decreasing revenues for the last several years and will undoubtedly continue to produce less income until the housing market recovers. The fund is used to provide competitive grants and advisory services to help New York’s local governments manage their records. At this time the fund revenue is about $8 - $9 million annually. In addition to decreasing revenue, the State has, over the last 4 years, swept over $2.5 million out of the fund to plug the deficit. The Local Government Records Advisory Council will be meeting in Albany next week and this issue will undoubtedly be a primary topic on their agenda. In addition to considering an advocacy strategy to deal with this problem, they will also be discussing ways to redirect the program to make the best use of dwindling funds.
New York State Capitol Fire Exhibit
If you came in the front doors of the State Museum, you would have seen a new exhibit in the lobby on the 1911 fire that destroyed significant portions of the new Capitol building and most of the collections of the New York State Library. At that time, there was no Archives and many of New York’s historic documents were housed in the State Library. Most of our colonial and early statehood records were destroyed and what survived is burned to varying degrees, some of it seemingly unusable. The exhibit is a collaboration of the State Museum, Library and Archives, all of whom suffered losses and continuing issues related to this fire.
Many Happy Returns
Just published by SAA, edited by Larry Hackman, includes a chapter by Judy Hohmann and myself titles: “To Know…Is to Love Us…Is to Support Us: the Creation and Evolution of the Archives Partnership Trust.
Preserving the American Historical Record (PAHR)
If authorized, the PAHR Act would create a formula-based competitive grant program that would fund archives programs in every state and at every level. New York would receive about $2.8 million when the program is funded. The PAHR bill was introduced in the House in May 2009. 64 co-sponsors signed on to the bill. As of December 31, 2010, the bill had not moved out of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform’s Subcommittee on Information Policy, the Census, and the National Archives. Senator Orrin Hatch (R, Utah) and Senator Carl Levin (D, Michigan) introduced it in the Senate in April 2010. Nine cosponsors signed on. The bill was referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. The bill will be reintroduced in the current Congressional session. Congressman Maurice Hinchey will again be the House sponsor. He is currently looking for a Republican co-sponsor. We expect Senators Hatch and Levin to sponsor in the Senate. The bill is being spearheaded by the Council of State Archivists and, in particular, by Kathleen Roe of the New York State Archives who heads their Legislative Committee.