A new award honoring New York University archivist Debra Bernhardt, the recently deceased head of the Tamiment Library and the Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives at NYU, has been announced by the New York State Regents.

The award, entitled the “Debra E. Bernhardt Award for Excellence in Documenting New York State History,” has been established “in memory of Dr. Debra E. Bernhardt, whose tireless efforts, creative leadership, and inspiring passion for ensuring an equitable documentation of New York has literally given an historical voice to many groups, organizations and people who would have otherwise been silent in the documentary record.”

The first recipient of this award will be the Wagner Labor Archives at NYU, which, according to the Regents, “has demonstrated unparalleled leadership in ensuring an even and equitable documentation of New York’s labor history.” The Archives was founded in 1977 as a repository for the historically significant, non-current records of New York City labor organizations. Since its inception, the Archives has made important achievements in not only documenting the history of labor, but also in leading the effort to document labor history statewide and nationally. In addition to acquiring manuscript and archival materials, the Wagner Labor Archives has undertaken many oral histories with members of the labor community to ensure that all aspects of labor’s story will be preserved.

The Archives, held in NYU’s Tamiment Library, is co-sponsored by the New York City Central Labor Council, the AFL-CIO, and NYU. Tamiment Library is a non-circulating research collection emphasizing the history and culture of American radicalism and labor.

Bernhardt, who spearheaded a successful three-year drive to obtain landmark status for Union Square Park (the cradle of American labor history), was the co-author of the book, Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives (NYU Press). She died in late March of this year.

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