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USA @ 250 AND NEW YORK: DISCOVERING LOCAL STORIES

Compiled by S. Gardner. A guide to finding primary source documents that reveal local true stories about the experience and events of the Revolutionary War era in New York State communities

FINDING REVOLUTIONARY STORIES: A GUIDE FOR NY STATE

This guide is intended to help historians, educators, and students discover a more complete story of their community in the Revolutionary War.  Although the resources are often specific to the State of New York, the research strategies can help those researching other locations.

Four main steps:

  1. Identify the stories already known or told about your community; trace them to their primary source; and map them chronologically.
  2. Find new primary sources and include them in the chronology.
  3. See emerging stories & where the opportunities and gaps are that need to be explored.
  4. Tie the stories to a specific location within your local landscape whenever possible.
  5. Create public access to the stories, pinned as much as possible to primary source material and showing their connection to the broader narrative of the Revolution.

PLANNING THE 250th: RESOURCES

The USA 250th in New York will be celebrated over multiple years, the entire span of the years of the war. Guides are being prepared, with suggested 'focus themes' that broaden the traditional chronology of the military actions, to encourage greater inclusion of the experiences of all those the Revolutionary conflict impacted.

#1 SKILL FOR DETECTION: READING 18TH C. SCRIPT

The FIRST step to finding those true new stories is. reading manuscripts. 

In particular, first person accounts such as pension applications.  So much of the printed material gives you facts, but omits detail that brings the experience of the war to life.

Paleography is the skill of reading old handwritten documents, and is your key to hearing the voices of your community's Revolutionary days. 

Here are a few sites to help. You will find that within a few pages it gets easier:

Example Shown: A letter from Daniel Burt of Warwick NY to Washington, found within the George Washington Papers. It shows they were having with transport of food to the army.

YOUR COMMUNITY'S TIMELINE: RECORDING AND STORY DISCOVERY