- Category: Archives
- Published on Monday, 03 March 2014 18:38
- Written by Web Editor 1
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A major Society undertaking began in 1990 in an unusual way. Society Editor Allan Seebach visited the library at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. The Cornell librarian showed him some 600 cubic feet of NYO&W corporate records and documents dating back to the 1860's--and then shocked Al by offering this collection to the O&W Society!
This offer presented us with major problems. The Cornell collection was at least three times the size of our own extensive archives, and our existing storage space was already bulging. Cornell laid down specific terms under which we could receive the collection, including secure storage and public accessibility.
After much consideration, our chapter voted to accept this collection and establish an Archives Storage and Research Facility. We have leased 1000 square feet in the Clemson Brothers building in Middletown, not far from the O&W right-of-way. The sturdy construction of this former manufacturing building meets Cornell's requirements for safe storage. During 1990 much work went into preparing the building for archival storage. In December over a dozen Society members moved the Cornell collection into the facility, and soon the rest of our NYO&W archives and Society records joined them -- an estimated total of five tons of history!
Now, virtually the entire corporate history of the New York Ontario & Western Railway is in one secure and convenient location. The benefits to the Society are many. We save the cost of a meeting room by holding Board meetings in the facility (the 19th century ambience makes us feel like the New York & Oswego Midland's directors convening to plan the building of the railroad).
But the greatest benefit is that it will be available to the public for research. For this reason the Society believes that the establishment of this archives and research center is the most important step it has ever taken to meet it's purpose specified in its constitution and By-Laws "to preserve the historical records of railway transportation of all kinds, but mainly those of Orange County and especially those of the New York Ontario & Western Railway.