“Digitizing Local History Sources” Project Enters its Third Year

By: Dr. Greg Hunter

The Palmer School of Library and Information Science is in the third year of the “Digitizing Local History Sources (DLHS) Project,” which is funded by a $1.5 million grant from the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation.  The project is directed by Dr. Gregory S. Hunter, Professor and Director of the Certificate of Advanced Study in Archives and Records Management (CARM).

The goal of the project is to digitize historical materials found in local communities across Nassau and Suffolk Counties.  Since 2017, the Palmer School has assisted 35 local historical societies.  Our goal is to help 80 historical societies by 2022.

The Gardiner Foundation funding enabled the Palmer School to establish an on-campus Digitization Lab with state-of-the-art equipment. The School also purchased six mobile digitization units for scanning materials in local communities.  To date, DLHS has digitized over 40,000 images totaling 10 terabytes of data.  Digitization meets the highest professional standards and images are stored in Preservica, a world-leading cloud-based digital preservation system.

Project activities are conducted by Palmer School students, who receive the practical, hands-on experience that will be essential for their careers as archivists and librarians.  Master’s students scan historical documents and create basic descriptive information about the materials.  Ph.D. students perform quality control and image editing tasks, as well as refine the descriptive information create by the master’s students.  To date, the Palmer School has awarded 60 Gardiner Foundation Fellowships totaling $445,000.

The Palmer School of Library and Information Science has been part of the local community since 1959.  Digitizing Local History Sources is deepening the partnerships that have long been a hallmark of the school.  For additional information see:  www.liu.edu/dlhs

From Newsday: LIU Post Project Digitizes Pieces of Long Island History

Newsday: LIU Post project digitizes pieces of Long Island history

Students and staff at the university’s Palmer School are scanning documents, some more than a century old, from historical societies and museums across the Island


LIU Post Professor Gregory Hunter, left, shares some Long Island history — and how it will be digitally archived — with PhD student Sultan Aljehani,  at the B. Davis Schwartz Library at LIU Post  on Friday. Photo Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

By Kadia Goba kadiagoba@newsday.comUpdated July 6, 2018 5:38 PM

The yellowed, handwritten receipt from a Rockville Centre mortuary gives a glimpse into the Long Island of more than a century ago.

In 1907, a family paid $200 to Petitt Brothers and Clayton Funeral Service. The limousine to carry the deceased cost another $5 and the pallbearers came with the price tag of $1.50.

The 5-by-7-inch piece of paper had been tucked away for decades in a file cabinet in the Museum of the Village of Rockville Centre. Today, the note and many other relics in the museum’s collection have been digitized as part of an initiative by the Palmer School of Library and Information Science at LIU Post. The project is financed by a $1.5 million grant from the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation, a nonprofit organization that aims to promote the history of Long Island and New York State.


Kelsey Renz, 24, of Kings Park, speaks at the Gardiner Symposium at Bayard Cutting Arboretum on June 26. The LIU Post student was one of the first students to work on the Long Island history digitization project. Photo Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

A staff of 10 at the university, including eight graduate students, is digitizing the archives of 26 historical societies, and plans are in the works to expand the project. So far, they have scanned nearly 15,000 historical documents in the digital laboratory at LIU Post and at area historical societies.

The Palmer School has already met with 17 more historical societies on Fire Island and intends to increase the number of students to 14 a semester.

“With digitizing, our job is just to capture images at high resolution, but I found it difficult not to get lost in the material,” said Aliki Caloyeras, 44, who is pursuing a master’s degree in library and information science.

In exchange for her work, Caloyeras is learning skills that will allow her to work on her own digital preservation project. She and her fellow students also receive six free credits for each semester they participate.

Work on the Rockville Centre collection started more than a year ago. The museum’s president, Frank Seipp, has played a key role in the project.

“We have a good filing system,” said Seipp, 85, adding that students were impressed when they saw the museum’s collection.

One of the documents at the Huntington Historical Society that made a lasting impression on Caloyeras was the diary of Amelia Sammis Brush, who kept a daily journal for six years during the Civil War.

“Well, she’s doing as well as can be expected,” wrote Brush of a friend she was visiting who had just given birth.

For Caloyeras, a mother of two, Brush’s words signaled that the friend might have had postpartum depression.

Other treasures processed through the project were a page from the 1783 receipt book of Robert Townsend, a Revolutionary War spy, and a scrapbook documenting the unsuccessful 1911 senatorial campaign of Isidor Straus, the co-owner of Macy’s department store, who died a year later with his wife aboard the Titanic.

Olena Zozulevich worked with the Oyster Bay Historical Society to digitize President Theodore Roosevelt’s burial records, but it was the 1858 records from Lockwood Marbleworks, a tombstone manufacturer, that caught her attention.

“I draw and when I looked at these sketches, I noticed the hands were really bad,” said Zozulevich, 23, referring to the sketches of praying hands to be etched onto a tombstone. “Even back then, people still couldn’t draw hands.”

Receipts from the Lockwood Marbleworks show tombstones were purchased from $6 and $21 in 1858.

Kelsey Renz, 24, of Kings Park, was one of the first students to work on the digitization project. So far, she has scanned dozens of photos of the Gardiners, the family responsible for the Palmer School grant.

“As a Suffolk County resident, a snapshot into people’s lives and how they presented themselves in a portrait is interesting,” said Renz. “Participating in the project, you know your work will be viewed by so many years after the project.”

Other documents scanned in the digitization project: 

1749: A page from daybook of Dr. George Muirson

1783: Receipt book of Robert Townsend

1817: A page from the Daniel Underwood shipping ledger

1915: Capital Stock Report for the South Side Realty Company

1927: Cruise passenger list aboard the S.S. Veendam

1935: An Irish sweepstakes ticket

1937: First issue of the Nassau County Historical Journal

1942: Greenport Basin and Construction Company newsletter

“Digitizing Local History Sources” Funded by the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation

Information for Students

A generous five-year grant from the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation is enabling the Palmer School to digitize materials in local historical societies, with an emphasis on Suffolk County.  The $1.5 million grant provides fellowships for master’s and doctoral students to assist with the project.

About the Project

“Digitizing Local History Sources” began on February 1, 2017 and will end on January 31, 2022. The goal of the project is to digitize materials in 80 local historical societies. At the start of the project, the Palmer School established an on-campus Digitization Laboratory featuring two scanners:

  • A “DT Atom Digitization System” manufactured by Digital Transitions
  • An Epson Expression 12000XL with transparency adapter

The Palmer School also created two mobile digitization units, each containing an Epson Perfection V800 scanner and a Dell laptop computer.  Students use these mobile units to digitize materials on-site at historical societies.

Scanned images are stored in Preservica Cloud Edition, a leading digital preservation system.  Each historical society retains ownership of and controls access to its materials stored in Preservica.

The Project Director is Dr. Gregory Hunter.  He may be reached at 516-299-2171 or ghunter@liu.edu

Gardiner Foundation Master’s Fellowship

To be eligible for a Gardiner Foundation Master’s Fellowship, a student must be matriculated in either the Master of Science in Library and Information Science (MSLIS) or the Certificate of Advanced Study in Archives and Records Management (CARM).

Gardiner Foundation Master’s Fellows receive six credits of tuition remission for each semester in which they are a fellow.  At this point in the project, there is a maximum of nine Master’s Fellows per semester.

First-time Master’s Fellows must enroll in LIS 693, “Gardiner Foundation Internship.”  LIS 693 is open to all Palmer School students at any point in the program.  Students may only register for LIS 693 once.  Students may apply for fellowships in additional semesters, subject to the availability of funds.

Master’s Fellows spend 120 hours during the semester assisting with the grant project.  Fellows must be able to spend two days per week on the project, each day consisting of five hours.  Some historical societies may be open on Saturday.

Master’s Fellows digitize historical images and create metadata for the images.  Most of the digitization takes place at the local historical societies; fellows must travel to the historical societies to conduct on-site project activities.  Fellows also use the digitization equipment in the on-campus laboratory.

Gardiner Foundation Doctoral Fellowship

To be eligible for the Gardiner Foundation Doctoral Fellowship, a student must be matriculated in the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Information Studies.

Gardiner Foundation Doctoral Fellows receive six credits of tuition remission for each semester in which they are a fellow.  There will be a maximum of two Doctoral Fellows per semester.  Students may apply for fellowships in additional semesters, subject to the availability of funds.  A student may receive a Doctoral Fellowship for a maximum of four semesters.

Doctoral Fellows spend 120 hours during the semester assisting with the grant project.  Doctoral Fellows perform quality assurance on scanned images and metadata, and enter items into Preservica.  Most project activities are conducted in the on-campus Palmer School Digitization Laboratory. 

Please see the application for the master’s level fellowship here:
Application for Master’s Fellowship

 Please see the application for the doctoral level fellowship here:
Application for Doctoral Fellowship

Completed applications should be returned to the Palmer School Scholarship Committee via email to Heather.ranieri@liu.edu.










LIU Post Announces $1 Million Grant from Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation to Expand Project to Preserve LI History

Grant Expands Partnership with LIU Post’s Acclaimed Palmer School

BROOKVILLE, N.Y. (December 4, 2017) –LIU Post’s Palmer School of Library and
Information Science was awarded a $1 million grant from the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation to expand an important project to both preserve Long Island’s history and make it more accessible.

The $1 million grant comes on the heels of an initial $500,000 grant from the Foundation in 2016 to launch the Digitizing Long Island History project. The project has received a far greater response than anticipated from historical societies, both in terms of the number of participants and volume of material. Under the initial grant, the Palmer School is partnering with 28 historical societies. The additional $1 million grant will expand the project to 80 historical societies over 4 years.

“We are proud to expand the successful partnership between the nationally-recognized Palmer School and the Robert David Lion Gardner Foundation to help protect our region’s rich history,” said LIU President Dr. Kimberly R. Cline. “This project to preserve vital historical documents and make them accessible will have a lasting impact on our region, now and for future generations.”

The following historical societies are taking part in the program this semester–
Freeport Historical Society Museum, Southold Historical Society, Historical Society of the Massapequas, Stirling Historical Society of Greenport, Sagtikos Manor Historical Society, Museum of the Village of Rockville Centre, and the Three Village Historical Society.

The Palmer School works with the historical societies to do some work on location, and other work at LIU Post. Fragile, oversized, and bound items are brought to the Palmer School’s Lab for scanning on a large, DT Atom tabletop digitization platform. The School also has two portable digitization units that students are able to take to the historical societies for the other material.

The Palmer School is a national leader in library science and one of just 62 schools accredited by the American Library Association. It offers the only Ph.D. program in Information Studies in the New York metropolitan area and is the only library sciences school in our region to be admitted into membership in the prestigious iSchools Consortium.

The project is led by Dr. Gregory Hunter, Professor of Library and Information Science, who heads the doctoral program at the Palmer School. Dr. Hunter is a nationally-recognized expert who was a key member of the team that designed and implemented the Electronic Records Archives for the National Archives and Records Administration. A Certified Archivist and a Certified Records Manager, Dr. Hunter is the Editor of the leading peer-reviewed journal in the field, The American Archivist, and his award-winning book is the standard text in the field.

“The Gardiner Foundation’s grant will allow us to preserve Long Island’s history and ensure that the next generation of archival professionals has the skills to preserve history in the digital age,” said Dr. Hunter. “This continues the important work of the Palmer School, which is our region’s leading information school.”

The grant includes significant scholarship support for masters and Ph.D. students at the Palmer School, in addition to opportunities for long-term fieldwork placement that benefit both the historical societies and Palmer School students.

“Due to the overwhelming response and success of this project, we are pleased to be  able to award this new grant to expand our partnership with the Palmer School,” said Kathryn M. Curran, Executive Director of the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation. “The Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation’s mission is to promote our regional history. The artifacts and archives of historical societies are untapped treasure troves for researchers and scholars. It is our hope that this award will make these collections available as vital part of local historic study. The Palmer School is our region’s leading institution to offer the expertise and resources to accomplish this goal.”

The funding will also allow for an annual Gardiner Symposium to begin next year, which will showcase progress and feature historical documents.

Gardiner Foundation Fellowships

Gardiner Foundation Fellowships

A generous two-year grant from the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation will enable the Palmer School to digitize historical materials in local historical societies, with an emphasis on Suffolk County. Beginning in Fall 2017, the grant provides fellowships for master’s and doctoral students to assist with the project. The descriptions of the fellowships are below. A separate application form will be available soon. Questions about the project should be directed to Dr. Gregory Hunter (greg.hunter@liu.edu).

Master’s Fellows will enroll in LIS 693, “Gardiner Foundation Internship.”

Master’s Fellows will spend 120 hours in the semester assisting with the grant project. Activities include digitizing historical images, creating metadata for the images, performing quality assurance, and adding the images to a digital archives. Most of the digitization will take place at the local historical societies. Fellows will be expected to travel to the historical societies to conduct project activities. Students will receive a fellowship for 6 credits of tuition (LIS 693 plus another course of the student’s choosing). There will be a maximum of 9 Master’s Fellows per semester.

Here are some great courses to take in the fall to help you prepare!
LIS 657, #3074 Intro. to Preservation; Holmes: SA: Sept 16, 23, 30; Oct. 7; 10-4; Post
LIS 714, #2186 Archives and Manuscripts; Hunter: TU 4:30-6:20; NYU Bobst Rm. 745