Locust Grove Project Summary

Locust Grove requests funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities to create an online, flexible portal to mount primary source, archival collections which document the social and cultural history of the Hudson Valley region of New York State. In 1996, Congress designated the Hudson River Valley a National Heritage Area in order to recognize, preserve, and interpret its nationally significant cultural, historic, and natural resources, confirming the importance of the region as a critical social, cultural, political and economic artery throughout American history. In cooperation with the Hudson River Valley Institute (HRVI), the digital diary project will serve as pilot project in further developing its innovative Hudson River Valley Heritage digital library and portal. The ultimate goal of this project is to make electronically accessible these compelling and underused primary sources and place them in the larger context of Hudson Valley, New York State, and United States history.

The scope of the initial two-year phase of the project aims to capture, explain, and make accessible the contents of 256 diaries via a freely available website with multi-faceted searching and browsing functions. The diaries, which form a subset of the Locust Grove collection, were written by nine Young family members, spanning 144 years, from the mid-19th century through the latter half of the 20th century and serve as an important entry point to materials in the rest of the estate’s archival collection. Images of the diaries will be mounted as complete texts and for the initial phase selected entries will be transcribed. The overall objective for digitizing the diaries is to produce a faithful rendering of the underlying source documents. Value added features and educational content will be developed to enhance visitors' experiences and make the diaries more accessible.

Personal papers and manuscripts remain essential to scholarly research. Family papers are critical to examining topics of cultural history as they permit students and historians to discover connections between personal beliefs and attitudes, family and social relationships, and the wider society and culture. Furthermore, historians have long recognized the value of diaries as a witness to the past and as an extraordinary source of information for the life and times of those who write them. Unfortunately, the nature of archival repositories tends to discourage the frequent and in-depth use by multiple students that is necessary for primary resources to become an integral part of any curriculum. By building a comprehensive, dynamic resource that is flexible in which to mount the digital diaries, this project will offer crucial access to unique research collections.

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