Locust Grove Diaries General

Project Description

The focus of the project is to digitize a collection of some 200 diaries of the Young family spanning over a hundred years of Locust Grove, placing the history of the family and estate in the larger context of Hudson Valley, New York state, and United States history. The Youngs, a prominent Poughkeepsie family, acquired the estate from the heirs of Samuel Morse in 1895. In 1975, Annette Innis Young, the last member of the family to live at Locust Grove, created a not-for-profit foundation to preserve the estate for the enjoyment, visitation, and enlightenment of the public.

The family members whose diaries are in the archives of Locust Grove include:
Annette Innis Young (1885-1975) diaries spanning 1893-1973
Innis Young (1887-1953) diaries spanning 1899-1953
Martha Innis Young (1856-1946) diaries spanning 1866-1918
William Hopkins Young (1855-1909) diaries spanning 1878-1908

Mary Eliot Dwight Young (1817-1890) diary spanning 1829

Laura Tallmadge Hasbrouck Varick (1834-1925) diaries are not dated on finding aid

Hasbrouck Innis (1859-1932)
 diaries spanning 1886-1906
George Innis (1822-1903) 
diaries spanning 1843-1897
Alice Young Eaton (1840-1920) diaries are not dated on finding aid

The choice of using the diaries provides a defined subset of material in the Locust Grove archives which form a natural narrative timeline. Unlike correspondence or business records, diaries represent a clear continuum of family records and provide an intimate window on life as it was lived in the Hudson Valley. As such, using the diaries, as opposed to other archival material, eliminates the need for labor-intesntive selecting and editing. In the tradition of other diarists such as Samuel Pepys, Philip Hone or George Templeton Strong, the Young family diaries offer a unique perspective on a significant span of time. Furthermore, since many of the diaries were written by female family members, they serve as an important contribution to documenting women’s history in the Hudson Valley. Other material would be digitized on an ad hoc basis in order to flesh out the digital project, such as images and photos or local newspaper articles related to events described by the authors.

The intent would be to initially transcribe select entries to provide a core set of full-text searchable entries and gradually transcribe others once the initial project has been completed. Entries will also be annotated to place personal names and events into their proper historical context. Additional items from local Hudson Valley newspapers to proved more context to the diaries. Ideally, web 2.0 technology would be used to allow volunteers and the public to assist with transcription. A historian/writer would be hired to compile a number of family stories, as well as other historical content, based on the diaries that highlight social trends and historical events. Also, funds would be used to pay the Locust Grove education and public programs staff to develop lesson plans and educational material based on the diaries, as well as public programs such as integrating the material in new tours of the estate. Funds would also be used to hire a web designer/programmer to develop the database and search functions, as well as interactive portions of the website.

Metadata for diary entries would include at a minimum: date, author, subjects/topics discussed, and people mentioned. Retrieval of diary entries would be by search and browsing. Browse capability would by date, including through a timeline and/or calendar interface that could overlay family events with New York State, U.S. and world events as appropriate. Also browse options would include by author possibly through a family tree interface. Advanced searching features would include: keyword, author, date, date added/updated, subject/topic, and personal names. The project would also include the ability to search within search results and sort results at least by relevance and date. A “This Day in History” feature would be incorporated into the home page to highlight entries of the current date for visitors to the site.

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