Environmental History:

Creating a Virtual Resource Collection on New York State's Environmental History




Funded by: National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), Division of Preservation and Access

Lead Institution: New York State Archives

Partner Institutions: Adirondack Museum, Cornell University, New York State Library, State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and Warren and Ulster County governments

Project Time: October 2002 - September 2005

NEH Funds: $260,628 (Participant cost share:$309,784)


The project focused on a pivotal facet of America's environmental history: the Adirondack and Catskill Parks. Partner holdings were integrated into a virtual collection that

  • Takes a thematic approach thematic rather than an institutional approach
  • Unifies geographically distributed collections
  • Provides balance to different perspectives on enviromental history
  • Employs an integrated approach to web-accessible access tools, ranging from a traditional Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC) to a union database of EAD-encoded finding aids, and digitized reproductions of archival material.



  • Developed and/or revise descriptive tools for a 162 collections relating to the Adirondack and Catskill Parks from seven partner institutions.
  • Created encoded finding aids and provided links between US MARC records, finding aids and digitized images.
  • Provided Web access to over 3200 historical maps, photographs, documents, and graphic materials of high interest drawn from partners' collections.
  • Developed a common method for creating electronic finding aids and mounting them on the Web
  • Developed shared guidelines and best practices for finding aid content, EAD markup, and item digitization that will help other New York State repositories
  • Developed the necessary infrastructure for housing the finding aids and making them available
  • Laid the foundation for the future growth of this and other topical sites on New York State history
  • Built a rich research resource for historians, geographers, educators and other humanities scholars


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