PTNY is History
Parks & Trails New York (PTNY) has been working to expand, protect, and promote a network of parks, trails, and open spaces throughout our state for the past 30 years. Now that work will be saved for posterity.
In January, PTNY donated our archival materials to the M. E. Grenander Department of Special Collections & Archives at the University at Albany, State University of New York.
Our papers will be part of the archive's Modern Political Archive. As part of this collection, PTNY is proud to join a multitude of organizations involved in conservation and environmental issues in New York, including the Environmental Advocates of New York, the Schoharie Land Trust, the Sierra Club, and many others.
Our readers who are not historians might ask, what does donating papers to an archive really entail? Well, let's follow the paper trail.
How did you know if you have something to archive?
If you're in an office (whether at work or at home!), look around you. Are some of the filing cabinets full of papers whose contents you never use? If so, how old are those materials? Do they tell a story about your organization, your company, or yourself?
If you've answered yes to these questions, your papers could be worth archiving. Historians use papers, everyday materials, architecture, audiovisual materials, and more to learn about the past. What might seem like boring paperwork today could open up a window into another world in 50 years.
How do you go about putting those old papers into an archive?
While not all archives accept new collections, some have collections with particular geographic or thematic focuses. One focus of the M. E. Grenander Department of Special Collections & Archives at the University at Albany is modern politics. After learning of its focus, PTNY contacted the archives. We explained what papers and materials we had and their archivist told us how to prepare those materials. Then, one fine January day, acquisitions and digital preservation specialist Brian Keough stopped by PTNY’s office with a U-Haul and picked up nearly 30 boxes worth of PTNY materials.
Which papers did PTNY donate?
The old ones! We sent reception invitations, annual reports, publications, staff notes, trail materials, photos from Cycle the Erie Canal events past, and much more! An exciting contribution were the reports and maps of trails from across New York State. Although PTNY did not develop these materials, we have accumulated a variety of trail planning materials from across New York over the past 30 years. Our archival collection will be a valuable repository for this knowledge for any curious researchers in the future.
Wow! How interesting. When can I go visit the archives and rummage through PTNY’s papers?
Great question! University at Albany staff must first process our materials, developing a filing system and what’s called a Finding Aid. Once PTNY’s papers are processed, anyone can head on over to the M. E. Grenander Department of Special Collections & Archives to check out the first 30 years of Parks & Trails New York’s legacy!
Special thanks to Head Archivist Brian Keough for his assistance in transferring PTNY's papers to the M. E. Grenander Department of Special Collections & Archives at the University at Albany, SUNY.