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Hudson Valley Press

September 19th, 2012

Newburgh’s past can be explored through a new online collection

NEWBURGH - “A community’s story is best understood by reading the original words of its citizens,” said Newburgh City Historian, Mary McTamaney when asked about the launch of the online Newburgh Heritage Collection.

The Newburgh Heritage Collection is a virtual archive of materials from the Parish of Newburgh, Village of Newburgh, City of Newburgh and Town of Newburgh, spanning the years 1791 through the early 20th Century. This collection of scanned and transcribed documents from several repositories reveals aspects of community life: socioeconomic, religious, bureaucratic, and cultural.

On September 12, 2012, The Newburgh Heritage Collection went “live” for researchers on The mission of Hudson River Valley Heritage is to provide access to a collaborative digital record of Hudson River Valley history and creativity. HRVH provides access to historical materials contributed by colleges, libraries, archives, historical societies, museums and cultural organizations from the following counties in New York: Columbia, Greene, Dutchess, Ulster, Sullivan, Rockland, Orange, Putnam, and Westchester. These collections include photographs, maps, letters, postcards, manuscripts, scrapbooks, memorabilia and ephemera, and audio and video clips. Many of these collections include unique historical resources not previously available in digital format.

For Newburgh’s digital contribution to HRVH, numerous handwritten volumes were scanned and transcribed through the National Park Service Challenge Cost Share Program grant “Founding Brethren” on behalf of the Dutch Reformed Church National Historic Landmark project and by volunteers throughout the past decade.

 These records include:

• Glebe Leases starting in 1791

• Fire Department Registers starting in 1797

• Assessment rolls 1798, 1801, 1822

• Village of Newburgh Trustees’ minutes 1803-1865

• Village/Town Slave Registry 1817-1833

• Village/Town Birth/Marriage/Death 1847-1849

• Associate Reformed Church minutes & sermons 1821-1822

• Dutch Reformed Church Consistory minutes beginning in 1835

• Board of Health minutes 1865

• Board of Water Commissioners’ minutes starting in 1866

• Common Council Special Meetings’ minutes 1876-1878

• Park Commissioners’ minutes 1894-1915

The collection features documents and volumes from the repositories of several partners, including the Historical Society of Newburgh Bay & the Highlands, the Orange County Genealogical Society, and the City of Newburgh.

The Newburgh Heritage Collection holds primary documents that tell firsthand Newburgh’s story. Palatine Germans arrived in Newburgh in 1709. Land divisions in 1715 set aside a central area to support school and church through land leases in a European-style glebe. While no records are known to exist for Newburgh’s life as a parish (1709-1796), its fire brigades were granted a charter by New York State to operate officially in 1797.

As Newburgh Parish grew into a village and town, churches became central to the community’s stability. Although Newburgh began as a Lutheran parish, within a century, Reformed Protestant churches gained strength and their records tell a tale of social charity and power.

“Newburgh’s wealth of primary materials is an extraordinary heritage that will now be accessible to the public, a tangible legacy I am inexpressibly proud to have been part of,” said City of Newburgh Records Management Officer, Elizabeth McKean.

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