Environmental History: About the Project:

Operating Principles

helped refine the intent and purpose of the virtual research collection as well as the material to be inlcuded in the project

Audiences for the Virtual Collection

Educational Users

  • College and University Faculty

  • High School teachers

  • 4 th and 7 th Grade NYS teachers, especially for development of Document-based questions (DBQs)

Administrative Users

  • Government agencies
  • Regional and local government departments
  • Surveyors
  • Attorneys

Historical Users

  • Environmental historians
  • Researchers
  • Authors/journalists
  • Publishers
  • Local historians
  • Environmental historians
  • Policy makers and planners (legislators)
  • Environmental activists and organizations
  • Industry/Corporations


This list is derived from environmental themes identified, and those suggested by the Partners & Advisory Groups. They were used to guide the selection and description processes.

  • Land Use (including eminent domain, community development, historic preservation, and forestry)
  • Water (including quantity/quality/pollution, dams, reservoirs)
  • Protection
  • Pollution
  • Energy
  • Solid and Hazardous Waste Disposal
  • Biodiversity
  • Recreation (including outdoor use, tourism/tourists)
  • Public Health (Tuberculosis)
  • Policy & Law
  • Citizen action Through Organizations and Government
  • Roles of Business and Corporations (especially mining, forestry, lumber, agriculture)
  • Environmental Education and Technical Assistance
  • Science and Technology
  • Funding of Environmental Affairs
  • People/Groups/Cultures
  • Religion
  • Management of Natural Resources
  • Transportation (especially canals, interstates, railroads)
  • Fires
  • Cultural/Esthetic/Artistic Significance

Criteria for Selecting Materials for Digitization

Mandatory criteria:

  • Relevant to themes/goals/audience
  • Cohesive thematic focus
  • Clear ownership of material and copyright to it; or, copyright permission is considered easily obtainable
  • Manageable size

Probably necessary criteria:

  • Processed with finding aid
  • Past user demand or anticipated future user demand justifies electronic access
  • Relatively easy to describe
  • Physically stable
  • Historical significance

Desirable criteria:

  • Visually interesting
  • Diverse formats (e.g. text, still picture, motion picture, sound,  microformat)
  • Representative example of document type
  • Interlocking collections/items (i.e., Cockburn family papers (State Library) and Cockburn field books (State Archives))
  • Items that document change over time
  • Items that are exemplars of a series/collection and that help users understand its nature and content
  • Seminal items/collections
  • Scope of materials is broad enough to provide context for understanding their significance

Formats that are good candidates for imaging:

  • Maps
  • Photographs
  • Prints
  • Drawings
  • Paintings
  • Archives/textual documents
  • Newspaper cartoons
  • Scrapbooks
  • Aerial photographs
  • Broadsides
  • Postcards
  • Stereo views
  • Audiovisual: sound recordings, motion pictures
  • Sheet music
  • Artifacts (3-D)
  • Land papers: leases, fieldbooks