Making Historical Collections Gradually More Accessible

July 8, 2012 | CUNY Matters, The University

Most books and journals today can be readily replaced by their e-versions, but many historical items and special collections at CUNY libraries have no electronic substitutes: They’re the real thing. And yet, even these items are gradually becoming part of digital archives, too. The goal is not to replace them, but to provide greater access to such treasures for people who can’t physically get to the library. Here’s a sampling of just a few of CUNY’s distinctive collections:

Queens College

The Louis Armstrong Archives, a collection of tapes, scrapbooks, photographs, personal papers and musical instruments, housed in his longtime Corona home.

Lehman College

A collection of primary and secondary sources documenting the history of the Bronx, including oral histories, personal and organizational papers, books and photographs. Digital archives “Bronx Business for Everybody,” “Bronx Architecture” and “Childhood in the Bronx.”

LaGuardia Community College

The papers of Mayors Fiorello LaGuardia, Robert Wagner, Abraham Beame and Edward Koch, searchable on college website.

Brooklyn College

Published and unpublished works relating to the cultural, political and historical development of Brooklyn, ranging from the papers of Reps. John Rooney and Eugene Keogh to the Coney Island Collection.

College of Staten Island

The political papers of State Sen. John Marchi and the Fresh Kills Landfill Collection, which contains significant environmental and scientific reports.

Kingsborough Community College

Repository for the Kingsborough Historical Society collection, primarily photos documenting Manhattan Beach and Sheepshead Bay history, back to the elegant 19th century resort hotels.

Baruch College

An extensive “Baruchiana” collection, including photographs, memorabilia, books, artifacts documenting the life of iconic financier Bernard Baruch, an 1889 graduate of City College.

Late 14th Century hand-copied Latin Church missal is among City College Library’s treasures.

City College

The Russell Sage Collection of more than 100,000 reports and publications issued by social welfare organizations active in the United States from the late 19th Century to 1940.