The CSI Archives & Special Collections will celebrate National Archives Month with a program on Staten Island Oral History on Wednesday, October 15, 2008 from 2:00pm to 3:00 pm in the CSI Library (Building 1L), Room 216.

The CSI Archives & Special Collections is hosting Archives History Day as an open house to learn about our collections, as well as a chance to find out about other archival and historical collections on Staten Island. In addition, two speakers will focus on aspects of local oral history. The event will be held in conjunction with American Archives Month, an opportunity to explore the importance of archival and historical records to our lives and to foster an increased public awareness of the relevance of archives to modern life.

The theme of this year’s observance is “Celebrating the American Record,” which will highlight the research value of oral history. Amy Stempler, CSI reference librarian, will talk about an oral history project of the Jewish Historical Society of Staten Island, and John Harlan Warren, Education Specialist for the National Parks of New York, will speak about the oral history of immigrants to Staten Island.

A highlight of the event will be a display featuring an 18th-century letter acquired by the CSI Archives. William Young wrote the letter on Staten Island to Reuben Clawson, a Staten Islander who had remained loyal to the British crown during the American Revolution and emigrated to Digby, Nova Scotia at the end of the war. The main topics in the letter are work and taxes. Young who had returned to Staten Island after spending a few years in Nova Scotia notes how high the post-war taxes are on Staten Island, despite the fact that he only owns one horse, one cow, and three hogs.

Dr. James Kaser, director of the archives, notes, “The letter is important for illustrating conditions on Staten Island after the occupation by British troops, who had depleted livestock holdings and cut down most of the trees and fencing to fuel winter fires.

Kaser says that researching the letter writer, recipient, and contents will make an excellent classroom project for CSI students who are learning historical research methodology.

James A. Kaser, PhD, Associate Professor and Archivist
CSI Archives and Special Collections
College of Staten Island
2800 Victory Boulevard
Building 1L, Room 216
Staten Island, NY 10301