The 250th celebration of the nation comes with new challenges to expand and deepen the narrative, and a recent guide can help researchers discover those previously hidden stories in their communities. “USA @250 and New York: Uncovering Local Stories” is an online guide with suggested research strategies and resources for finding primary sources connected to local communities during the American Revolution.
One of the key research areas is the untold story of the local militia units. In every community, a few served with the Continental Army, but many more served with the militia. They had shorter enlistments in order to provide for and protect their families, but traveled far and wide, participated in major battles and served at strategic locations.
Their contributions are largely overlooked or dismissed, to this day. Their pension applications are a rich mine of information, since they seldom had paperwork to prove their service and had to rely on their own memories, supported by others who they served along side, to try to get a pension. These applications are one way to uncover eyewitness testimony about major events that usually has been below the radar.
The site’s editor Sue Gardner is the author of Pure Necessity: Revolution at Warwick, the result of 20 years of research by the Friends of Hathorn Historical Society to find the forgotten Revolutionary legacy of the community of Warwick, in Orange County, NY. She is Deputy Historian for the Town of Warwick, local history librarian at Albert Wisner Public Library, and a member of Orange County’s Semiquincentennial Commission.
The site is hosted by the Albert Wisner Public Library in Orange County and can be found at https://guides.rcls.org/250/.
The New York Almanack is offering continuing coverage of America’s 250th celebration. You can follow all the news here.
Illustrations, from above:New York State’s America’s 250th logo; and a list of ox teams “impressed” – seized with the promise of eventual payment – from Warwick farms in 1778-79 by the Continental Army (courtesy National Archives).