County archiving wealth of data
- By Dibya Sarkar
- Apr 23, 2002
Westchester County, a well-to-do suburban enclave just north of New York
City, is asking its 45 communities to share their historical riches in a
virtual archives project.
The Westchester County Archives, an agency under the county's information
technology department, and Westchester Historical Society, a nonprofit group
that serves as county historian, are collaborating on the project. It will
be modeled on the agency's Civil War Web site (www.westchesterarchives.com/CWhome.htm), which contains maps, private and
government records, and letters from soldiers, that debuted last fall.
Patty Dohrenwend, the county archives' director, said the county has
the experience and equipment to scan and store such documents and provide
around-the-clock access through its site (www.westchesterarchives.com).
"Some of the smaller communities have incredibly rich documents that
they're not able to display them easily even to their own citizens," she
said. "If an individual community attempted to do this on their own, they
would have to spend so much more. It wouldn't happen so easily."
Communities can submit nominations, which are due by April 30, of what
they deem to be important historically for the county. For example, Dohrenwend
said that Eastchester, N.Y., has a "beautifully crafted original compact
of 10 families that settled the town...only a few years after the Mayflower
Compact." The city of Peekskill, N.Y., has several maps that document economic
Dohrenwend said teachers and students have extensively used the Civil
War site, which cost $15,000 in public and private funds to develop, but
she hopes the interest in the virtual archives site would extend to the
The county executive has sent letters to the communities requesting
their involvement. Dohrenwend said she would like to see the project debut
by spring 2003.
The county will fund most of the costs, and Elmsford, N.Y.-based Fuji
Photo Film USA Inc. also has expressed interest in participating, she said.