Donation to Conserve & Digitize Documents From the 1911 New York Capital Fire


In the very early morning hours of March 29, 1911, a fire got started in the 3rd floor Assembly Library of the New York Capital Building. The fire quickly spread throughout the third floor, then on to the fourth floor and both towers. Many thousands of manuscripts and books went up in flames. However, there were documents that were saved – although they may have been charred on the edges. Now AT&T has donated $20,000 to conserve and digitize the valuable documents. The following is from the February 5, 2015 edition of the website.

ALBANY, N.Y. – Water stained papers, careful calligraphy, it’s obvious these documents are not from modern time, nor are they even from the 20th century.

“They relate to the colonial history of the state of New York,” said Laurence Hauptman, SUNY Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History.

“In 1911, the Great Capitol fire occurred, which really put a damper on history for so many years,” said Hauptman. That day, thousands of books and manuscripts burned in the State Library, fueling the fire. “There’s charring from the fire which you can see in this document,” said Dawn Mankowski, paper conservator, pointing to one document.

By way of good fortune, some documents survived…

AT&T has donated $20,000 to conserve and digitize the documents, which would eventually make them accessible to the public.

Read the full article for video and more details of what these documents include!

Author: Leland Meitzler

Leland K. Meitzler founded Heritage Quest in 1985, and has worked as Managing Editor of both Heritage Quest Magazine and The Genealogical Helper. He currently operates Family Roots Publishing Company (, writes daily at, writes the weekly Genealogy Newsline, conducts the annual Salt Lake Christmas Tour to the Family History Library, and speaks nationally, having given over 2000 lectures since 1983.

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