The New-York Historical Society has received a grant of $304,470 from the Leon Levy Foundation to preserve and process its institutional archives, which document the institution’s 210-year history. “The two-year initiative will improve scholarly access to the archives and open a trove of material for a broad range of research possibilities,” an announcement sent to the press said.
The records document various aspects of the New-York Historical Society, encompassing collecting, exhibitions, research, scholarly and social activities, and even day-to-day operations. As part of this two-year project, New-York Historical is expected to arrange and describe over 1,600 linear feet of records, converting them from a modestly used, in-house resource to publicly accessible research collection.
Highlights of materials to be processed include a list recording Francis B. Winthrop’s 1809 donation that includes the contemporary manuscript of his ancestor John Winthrop’s 1630 sermon “A Modell of Christian Charity”; letters to Thomas Jefferson and John Quincy Adams acknowledging their honorary membership to the New-York Historical Society; records from the late 19th century relating to the New-York Historical Society’s first woman member, historian Martha Lamb; and correspondence regarding the purchase of Audubon’s watercolors and other materials in the Society’s holdings.
The New-York Historical Society was founded in 1804 as one of the nation’s first historical societies and one of New York’s oldest continuously operating museums. Its records detail attempts to document the history of New York and the nation through collections in fields as diverse as the fine and decorative arts, botany, zoology, mineralogy, archaeology and ethnology.
As the organization narrowed its collecting focus over time, several major collections were transferred to younger institutions, such as the American Museum of Natural History, the Metropolitan Museum, and the Brooklyn Museum.
The Leon Levy Foundation was founded in 2004 as a private, not-for-profit foundation whose goal is to support scholarship at the highest level.