NY State Archives Preserving Revolution-Era Documents

Revolutionary War-era documents, culled from the collections of the State Archives and the State Library, are being preserved, thanks to a $164,000 grant in public and private money through the federal Save America's Treasures program, a national effort to preserve historic structures, documents and works of art. Documents include the secrets British spy John André carried away in his boot.

"It's time, we feel, to work to bring them back to a condition where they can be exhibited, shared with the public and digitized so copies can go up on the Internet," said Christine W. Ward, the state archivist. "We want to make sure that what is left is preserved for future generations."

It is finicky, hard work, and with thousands of historic documents to preserve for posterity, the conservators do not have the luxury of, say, art restorers, who can spend years on a single object. Some documents must be removed from old leather bindings they were placed in by past archivists, and placed in plastic sleeves to protect them.

The state's archivists and librarians hope that the renewed interest in the Revolutionary War - with popular histories beginning to appear - will send scholars and authors here, where they hope they will soon be able to find data and insight by looking over the state's newly cleaned, newly legible documents.

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