The collections, Sylvester Manor Archive, the Richard Maass Collection, and the Leo Hershkowitz Collection, reach back to the 17th century, shedding light on previously unknown aspects of pre-Revolution politics, trade, and culture. Through teaching, research, public accessibility, and events at NYU and beyond, these collections will continue to extend the field of early New York and Atlantic history.
New York University has received a pledge of one million dollars from the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation to make widely accessible three major collections of downstate New York history. The announcement was made by Carol A. Mandel, Dean of the NYU Division of Libraries. The collections are the Sylvester Manor Archive, the Richard Maass Collection, and the Leo Hershkowitz Collection.
“We are thrilled by this generous support from the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation,” said Dean Mandel. “As we bring our cutting-edge archival expertise to bear in exposing these rich collections, they will support knowledge creation in a very wide range of academic disciplines at NYU and beyond.” Atlantic history; constitutional, economic, social and political history; American studies, and food studies; and nineteenth century American literature are among the wide academic fields that will be illuminated by the content in these collections.
The collections reach back to the 17th century, shedding light on previously unknown aspects of pre-Revolution politics, trade, and culture. The Sylvester Manor Archive, from the family that purchased Shelter Island in 1651, is considered by historians to be the richest known documentation of the Atlantic “triangle trade” as well as a trove of Long Island history through the 19th century. The Maass Collection is particularly focused on Revolutionary War and the early Republic. The Hershkowitz material extends through the 18th and 19th centuries to the emergence of downstate New York’s prominence as a world capital of trade, finance, and culture in the early 20th. Its varied content of primary source materials, from early real estate maps and court records to letters, books, and archives, enable students and researchers first hand views into the economic and social development of New York City and the downstate region. Through teaching, research, public accessibility, and events at NYU and beyond, these collections will continue to extend the field of early New York and Atlantic history.
Sylvester Manor digitization, and comprehensive treatment of the Richard Maass and Leo Hershkowitz collections, will bring together NYU Libraries archivists, conservators, and digital technicians in a coordinated, three-year-long initiative to ensure the material’s longevity and broad accessibility. The outcome will be the digitization and worldwide availability on the Internet of the Sylvester Manor and Richard Maas content, and the processing and discoverability of the finding aid to the content of the Hershkowitz Collection.
Previous grants from the Gerry Charitable Trust; The Reed Foundation, Inc.; the Moore Foundation, the Double R Foundation, and the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation helped the Libraries begin to preserve and catalog the Sylvester Manor Archive, which documents the 300-year-old history of a northern plantation once worked by indentured Europeans, impressed Native Americans, and enslaved Africans. A previous grant to NYU from The Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation enabled the Libraries to begin digitizing the material. The new grant will enable the Libraries to complete the digitization project by creating approximately 36,500 additional digital images from the Sylvester Manor Archive, making its most important content widely available online for use in teaching and research.
The NYU Division of Libraries is a global system comprising five libraries in Manhattan and one each in Brooklyn, Abu Dhabi and Shanghai. Its flagship, the Elmer Holmes Bobst Library on Washington Square, receives 2.6 million visits annually. For more information about the NYU Libraries, please visit http://library.nyu.edu
The Robert D.L. Gardiner Foundation, established in 1987, primarily supports the study of New York State history, with an emphasis on Suffolk County. Robert David Lion Gardiner was, until his death in August 2004, the 16th Lord of the Manor of Gardiner’s Island, NY. For more information about the Robert D.L. Gardiner Foundation, please visit http://www.rdlgfoundation.org