On September 12, 2012, The Newburgh Heritage Collection will go “live” for researchers on www.hrvh.org. The mission of Hudson River Valley Heritage is to provide universal 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 State: Columbia, Greene, Dutchess, Ulster, Sullivan, Rockland, Orange, Putnam, and Westchester. These collections include photographs, maps, letters, postcards, manuscripts, scrapbooks, programs from events, 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
- Alms House case examinations 1853-1858
- Board of Alms Commissioners’ minutes starting 1853
- Board of Health minutes starting 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, having been granted a patent by England’s Queen Anne in 1708. 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. (The volunteer Fire Department remained an independent civic organization through the first decades of the 20th Century.) Three years later, particularly because of the need for administering the water supply for consumption and fire protection, residents were granted a village charter. Essential to the survival of these early communities were census and assessment tallies. Newburgh’s growth soon required the organization of citizens into oversight boards.
As Newburgh Parish grew into a village and town, churches became central to the community’s stability and welfare. 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.