September 4, 2014

University Archivist, Geoffrey Williams Retires

Geoffrey Williams retired after 27 years at the University at Albany on September 2, 2014. To recognize his outstanding accomplishments and his commitment to the University community, a reception was hosted on Thursday, August 21, in the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives.

(Below Geoff is pictured with Philip Eppard, Chair of the Department of Information Studies).


Geoffrey Williams' accomplishments reflect a long career of outreach to the University at Albany students, faculty, and alumni, as well as helping community organizations in the Capital District preserve their history. Since coming to the University in 1987, Geoff consistently dazzles students and alumni with his factual knowledge of 170 years of University history and traditions.

As the institutional memory, he serves as a major source of historical information for administrative and academic offices throughout campus, including the President's Office and Office of Communications & Marketing, as well as students and faculty. He shares his knowledge by writing a regular column, "Ask Geoff," for the UAlbany Magazine, and conducts bus tours, walking tours, and programs for alumni, student, and community groups.

Geoff has worked with community members to collect and preserve the historical records of African Americans in the six-county greater Capital District of New York. As co-chair of the Capital District Black History Project, he was responsible for the preservation of records of area African-American organizations at the archives of UAlbany. Among his hundreds of talks and presentations to the community are lectures to the Washington Park Neighborhood Association and many others. Geoff works to improve his profession by serving on the New York State Historical Records Advisory Board, New York State Local Government Records Advisory Board, and Documentary Heritage Program Advisory Committee.

We are sorry to lose such a great historian and friend, but thank him for his years of service and wish him well in his future endeavors.

May 20, 2014

2014 Patricia Stocking Brown Research Award Recipients Named

Casseus_small.jpg ALBANY, N.Y. (May 20, 2014) - The University Libraries at the University at Albany, SUNY today presented the 2014 Patricia Stocking Brown Fund for Feminist Social Justice Research Awards to University at Albany graduate student Tracey Casseus and undergraduate student Gail Bensen.

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Ms. Casseus, who just received her Master of Arts degree, with a concentration in History and Media, was awarded $500 for her ongoing project to create a 15 minute documentary about United Tenants of Albany, an area housing advocacy group. Professor Gerald Zahavi of the Department of History serves as faculty advisor to the project, which uses the United Tenants of Albany as a case study to examine the disproportionate impact of a lack of affordable housing on low income women.

A History major, Ms. Bensen received $100 to support a planned study of gender and power during her Fall 2014 senior research seminar. Her project will explore the life and work of Kate Stoneman, Class of 1866 and later faculty member of the New York State Normal College (now the University at Albany), who became the first female lawyer in the State of New York. Professor Kori Graves of the Department of History will supervise the study.

The annual Award honors Professor Patricia Stocking Brown, who taught Biology and Women's and Minorities' Studies for 35 years at nearby Siena College.

craab_drop.jpg Trained at the University of Michigan in comparative endocrinology, and a self-described feminist, Patricia Stocking Brown was the first female faculty member in the sciences at Siena. There she established an extraordinary career as a caring and rigorous teacher and researcher who promoted student research, feminist analytical thinking and evidence-based medicine. Brown was the wife of University at Albany Distinguished Teaching Professor of Biology Emeritus Stephen C. Brown.

Professor Patricia Stocking Brown died in 2004 from metastatic breast cancer. The University at Albany Libraries' Department of Special Collections & Archives holds Brown's papers along with those of the grassroots nonprofit Capital Region Action Against Breast Cancer (CRAAB!), which she co-founded in 1997 and the New York State Breast Cancer Network, a coalition of grassroots breast cancer groups around the state, she co-founded soon after.

Donors from the University at Albany's Women's Studies and Biology Departments, including Professor of Women's Studies Emerita Bonnie Spanier, established The Patricia Stocking Brown Fund for Feminist Social Justice Research in University Libraries to support and promote students' interest in and use of primary materials related to the study of social justice, housed in the Department of Special Collections & Archives. Award applicants must be a registered University at Albany graduate or undergraduate student and currently engaged in or planning a research project/class paper related to feminist social justice. Awardees must utilize at least one manuscript or archival collection at the University as part of his or her research.

January 13, 2014

Grant Winner: 2013 Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources

blogNDPA.jpgCouncil on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) awards a 2013 grant to the University's Special Collections and Archives

The University at Albany Libraries' M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections & Archives has been selected to receive a 2013 Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) for its project Building New Access Tools for the National Death Penalty Archive (NDPA). One of 22 selected from 75 applicants nationwide, the project is supported by a $119,900 grant for an arrangement and description project that will enhance access and discoverability of research material in the University at Albany Libraries' National Death Penalty Archive (NDPA). The grant project will be directed by principal investigator Brian Keough, Associate Librarian and Head of Special Collections & Archives.

The grant project provides funding for a full-time archivist to arrange, describe and catalog 710 cubic feet of NDPA collections over eighteen months, resulting in the completion of bibliographic records and of Encoded Archival Description finding aids that will be searchable utilizing the eXtensible Text Framework (XTF), an open source platform providing robust access to EAD finding aids. This grant will result in scholars increased access to historical resources, help teachers develop learning-centered curricula and offer researchers the full benefits of XML in retrieval, access and display. The project will improve access to many of the NDPA's nationally significant collections including the official records of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, the David Baldus Papers, and the Capital Jury Project interviews with over 1,200 jurors from 353 capital trials in 14 states.

The NDPA mission is to build a collection of archival materials from individuals and national organizations that played substantive roles in the history of capital punishment. Through a partnership between the School of Criminal Justice and the Library that began in 1999, the NDPA has acquired personal papers and organizational records to document the emergence, development and coordination of a political and social movement related to the death penalty. The NDPA collections present a comprehensive picture of political debate, reform, legal maneuvering and academic research from nationally recognized experts on legal executions in the United States. Scholars gain access to primary sources that provide insight into the process, influence and interplay of academic scholarship and political debate over capital punishment. The NDPA contains primary sources in compelling thematic areas, such as civil rights, advocacy efforts of victims' families and legal history as well as research examining challenges to the death penalty's constitutionality, deterrence, wrongful convictions and sentences for capital crimes.

CLIR is an independent, nonprofit organization that forges strategies to enhance research, teaching, and learning environments in collaboration with libraries, cultural institutions, and communities of higher learning. In 2008, CLIR started the Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives initiative to help libraries, archives, and cultural institutions describe and catalog millions of items that have never been adequately described and remain inaccessible to scholars. The program supports innovative, efficient description of large volumes of archival collections that are unknown and inaccessible to scholars, yet contain substantive intellectual value. With the generous support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, since the program began, eighty-seven grants totaling nearly $20 million have been made to a variety of institutions nationwide. For further details about other funded projects go to: