Long Island University is pleased to announce that the Board of Directors of the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation has approved a grant in the amount of $695,000 to fund the Robert Moses Archival Project in partnership with the New York State Department of Parks and the New York State Archives. The program will be overseen by the Palmer School of Library and Information Science at LIU, which has been dedicated to the digitization and preservation of Long Island’s irreplaceable historical records.
“From Huntington to the Hamptons, from Fire Island to Gardiners Island, the history of Long Island is rich and varied,” said Dr. Kimberly R. Cline, president of Long Island University. “By working to preserve Robert Moses’s archival heritage, we’re bringing another part of that history to life.”
Thanks to the Foundation’s previous generous support of a separate project, “Digitizing Local History Sources,” the Palmer School is completing its second year of a six-year project to digitize materials found in Long Island’s local historical societies. So far, more than 25,000 images have been captured and over 5 terabytes of data have been accumulated from the collections of more than two dozen historical societies in Nassau and Suffolk Counties.
Both projects are directed by Dr. Gregory S. Hunter, who has helped the Palmer School at LIU become a national leader in library and information science. Dr. Hunter was part of the team that built the Electronic Records Archives for the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, D.C. At LIU, Dr. Hunter serves as the director of the Palmer School’s Certificate of Advanced Study in Archives and Records Management.
“The influence of Robert Moses on New York State is unparalleled,” said Kathryn Curran, executive director of the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation, in a statement. “Access to his archives will offer researchers new insight not only to the man, but to the social, political, economic and cultural influences surrounding his massive projects. We at the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation are carrying on the vision begun by Robert David Lion Gardiner in supporting organizations making a significant contribution to understanding our communities and their history and legacy.”
Brian X. Foley, deputy regional director, Long Island State Parks Region, said this grant award was wonderful news and he looked forward to working closely with LIU on this project.
“One of the more distinguishing features of this effort lies in the fact that three major entities are working together to move this project forward: New York State government, Long Island University, and a dynamic Foundation, whose mission is to deepen our appreciation for New York State history,” said Foley in a statement. “The Robert Moses digitization project aligns perfectly with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s ‘Path Through History’ initiative. One can rightly characterize it as a digital path through history.”
“We look forward to working with the project team and facilitating access to these great materials,”said Thomas Ruller, New York State Archivist.
Among Robert Moses’s many titles, he was president of the L.I. Parks Commission and chairman of the State Parks Council. Moses, the master builder chronicled in Robert Caro’s Pulitzer-Prize-winning biography, The Power Broker, did more than anyone in the Empire State to shape Long Island’s parks and recreation, bridges and highways, and so much more that New Yorkers take for granted today.
The Robert Moses Archival Collection, currently housed in three locations—two on Long Island and one upstate—is a huge and mostly intact collection of photographs, letters and architectural drawings. Now, thanks to the Gardiner Foundation’s new grant to the Palmer School at LIU, this remarkable legacy—once it’s completely digitized—will be preserved for posterity and available for future researchers through the Website of the New York State Archives.
Based in Hampton Bays, the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation, which was established in 1987 to support the study of New York State history, has given more than $2 million to LIU so Dr. Hunter, who also serves as director of the Palmer School’s Certifitcate of Advanced Study in Archvies and Records Management, could establish a graduate student cohort of Gardiner Foundation fellows who earn tuition remission for each semester they participate in the “Digitizing Local History Sources” project. With their generous support, he was able to purchase a state-of-the-art digitization system, the DT Atom, which can handle a wide range of archival materials from centuries-old deeds to a ceremonial ribbon distributed at President Abraham Lincoln’s funeral.
And now, Dr. Hunter will be able to deploy his students to preserving the important legacy of Robert Moses, who has left a lasting impact on Long Island.