The Manuscripts and Special Collections unit was established within the New York State Library in 1881. Its responsibilities include the acquisition, access and preservation of the library's collections of archives and manuscripts, rare books, maps and atlases, prints and photographs, broadsides and posters, musical scores, and ephemera. Materials are acquired through donation and purchase with the primary focus being on items that document the people, organizations, and history of the state of New York from the 17th century to the present.
The library's collection includes a wide variety of materials ranging from 17th-century works like Adriean van der Donck's Beschryvinge van Nieuvv Nederlant, (Gelijck het tegenwoordigh) (1655) and Nicolaes Visscher's Novi Belgii (1685) map to a recently created ephemera collection of 21st-century catalogs. Large manuscript collections like the papers of Gouverneur Kemble Warren (1830–1882) and the Van Rensselaer Manor Papers along with diaries and letters written by regular New Yorkers provide information on a variety of subjects. The Factsheet Five Collection includes thousands of zines produced in the 1980s and 1990s, the Players of a Century Collection documents 19th-century theater in Albany, and the records of the Adirondack Forty-sixers give insight about a special group of climbers. Other collection strengths include early American imprints and items illustrative of the history of topics related to American history, literature, science, and the arts particularly the history of agriculture, transportation, New York folklore, and social reform.
New York State Library
Manuscripts and Special Collections
Cultural Education Center
Albany, New York 12230
(518) 474-6282 (t)