WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- Westchester County Archives has made it possible to view archives of easily searchable maps, photos, deeds and other records – some dating all the way to 1683 – from home computers or smartphones.
Launched in 2011, the WCA Digital Collections now include 15 online collections. Researchers formerly had to visit the archives’ reading room in person to access those records. Three more collections are scheduled to be launched later this year. These collections represent more than 18,000 online images – maps, photographs, and documents – dating from the late 1700s through the early 21st century.
“By digitizing more than 18,000 of our historic records, Westchester County continues to utilize technology to improve efficiency and help us share information instantly with the general public,” said County Executive Rob Astorino. “I want to thank all of the volunteers who have helped to make our digital archives such a success. And more is still to come.”
The WCA’s mission is twofold: to collect and preserve county public records; and to make them available to researchers. WCA also mandates to provide access to the community.
“We never want to have to close a collection because the records are too fragile to handle,” said Cindy Sauer, WCA’s principal archivist. “That’s the equivalent of shutting off the flow of history.”
Digitizing historical record serves both missions of access and preservation. In all, 19 volunteers and student interns have logged about 2,500 hours scanning and cataloging Digital Collections materials – and the numbers keep growing weekly.
“The Volunteers in Archives program is an excellent example of how county departments can partner with members of the community to achieve major advances in their programs while still working within budgetary constraints,” Astorino said.
Records are available for viewing at www.westchestergov.com/digitalcollections.