Latest Posts


Life as a Remote Student Worker

Jasmine Ambrose - May 18, 2020

When you think of your freshman year of college, what first comes to mind? Would it be the partying? Maybe even the clubs you joined, or special events your school held? In my case, the first thing that comes to mind is COVID-19. I think about how it shifted my way of learning, and even working. The experience was definitely something new to me, which surprisingly wasn’t as bad as I had anticipated, but I hope it never occurs again. One thing I was excited about, was being employed my freshman year. Not only was the transition into college hard mentally, but financially as well, so a job for myself was a major goal I wanted to accomplish. Thankfully, for my spring semester my professor had introduced me to a position with the Department of Special Collections & Archives at the University at Albany. (This is also a good tip...

A Semester in Special Collections

Britney Colas - May 18, 2020

My experience working for the Department of Special Collections & Archives was great. I really enjoyed working for the department on campus. But working from home was an adjustment, along with working on my time management. Unfortunately, it has been very hard for me to keep focused and get work done while at home. Supervisory Archivist Jodi Boyle has been very helpful with walking me through this process, which I greatly appreciate. Although I have not been able to completely explore the department, I would like to see more collections from historical Black figures. I am currently working on a minor in Africana Studies and would love to have the opportunity to study the works of historical Black figures that could possibly be featured in the department in the near future. At times it became very challenging to juggle archive work and schoolwork while also dealing with the affects of...

2020 Patricia Stocking Brown Research Award Recipients Named

Jodi Boyle - May 01, 2020

Carissa Halston Shelby Hafener ALBANY, N.Y. (May 1, 2020) – The University Libraries at the University at Albany, SUNY today announced the 2020 Patricia Stocking Brown Research Award recipients are University at Albany graduate student Carissa Halston and undergraduate student Shelby Hafener. A second year doctoral student in the Department of English, Carissa Halston received the graduate award for research on mass incarceration of women in prisons for a novel in-progress that will ultimately become her dissertation. This project, under the supervision of Dr. Laura Tetreault, builds upon work Halston began in the Department of English’s Current Trends in Rhetorical Theory and Research: Research Methods in Rhetoric and Composition course. A senior with a double major in History and Political Science, Shelby Hafener received the undergraduate award for her research into the organization ACT UP’s activism efforts in regard to the New York State prison system and the state’s budget,...

Societal Table-Flipper

Hunter Findon - April 23, 2020

Upon the arrival of the societal table-flipper that is the COVID-19 virus, UAlbany closed down, pushed their students out, and required employees to work remotely. This left me in a place where I had to adapt to a new form of schedule which relied entirely upon my own discipline and choice as opposed to the set structure found on campus. This change allowed me to choose where and when I wanted to work. Instead of working in the brightly lit processing room of the Department of Special Collections & Archives, I would find myself surrounded by family and in the comfort of my own home. Moreover, I would be in a place where I would not have to worry about contracting the pandemic virus. Before the pandemic, my project in the Department of Special Collections & Archives involved vetting books in our department’s stacks to potentially be transferred to the...

Closing Down the Archives and Working Remotely

Sheri Sarnoff - March 31, 2020

Exactly two weeks ago, I was working at the Archives on the reference desk, as students from a variety of classes came to look at collections that they were assigned to for projects that were due right before spring break. While the time before Spring Break is usually busy with students trying to get last minute information before they went home, this time it was different. This time, the students did not know if they would ever get the chance to come back to campus this semester. Nervous students came in, trying to gather as much information as possible, and I tried to manage the reference desk, along with my co-workers, while also being hyper aware to sanitize our hands after we pulled collections from the back or handed a researcher a photo form. This anxiety continued throughout the day, but the staff at the department greeted everyone with a...

COVID-19 Update from the Department of Special Collections & Archives

Mark Wolfe - March 30, 2020

Greetings from the University Libraries! Hi my name is Mark Wolfe and I work in the Department of Special Collections and Archives that's actually located in the Science Library. While we wait for the coast to clear again to resume our normal lives, the librarians and archivists are all still here working, but instead of face to face we're helping you online. We can assist you with research projects using historical resources such as digitized photos, digitized audio and video, and digitized documents newspapers, and books. All of these resources that are online are historical in nature. If you're interested in these, you can go to our website, the archives website, which is When you get to that website all you have to do is click on a contact button and you'll be led to a form that you fill out with your question or what interest you have...

Espy Project: Missing Executions from 1860-1875 Mississippi

Miles Lawlor - May 20, 2019

Looking back, I was most struck by how many executions in the American South had been left uncounted in the original dataset. The first state that I was assigned to create metadata for was Mississippi. While I do not have a background in the history of the death penalty, there was something that just seemed... off about the data. When I initially scanned through the execution IDs that were already in use from M. Watt Espy's dataset, I was surprised to see what I thought were relatively long gaps in the time between executions in the 19th century. Had the state really not put anyone to death between 1859 and 1875? Given the rate of executions in Mississippi during the early 20th century, this didn't seem all that likely. Had the Civil War and Reconstruction perhaps been a period of significantly lower crime rates or lenient sentences? Newspaper clipping documenting...

Espy Project: Working with Challanging or Anonymous Records

Amanda Partridge - May 15, 2019

Having spent countless days and months reading over and documenting the Espy materials, I have a come to appreciate what he was trying to accomplish. Having collected most of his materials before the Internet and the variety and number of sources he was able to gather shows his diligence and dedication. Sometimes the execution would be no more than a passing mention in a narrators recollections. Others would be thirty documents long having been written about over and over again. Some of those executed were well know criminals like, Bonnie and Clyde while others were not considered important enough at the time to bother publishing their names. A few were "special" enough to have invitations sent and this relic may be all that is left to inform the future of this person's death. I have read many letters written to court clerks, historical societies and libraries, following up on leads...

Espy Project: Disparities in Documentation

Sheri Sarnoff - May 13, 2019

Watt Espy kept detailed notes of the executions that he found in various newspapers, archives, books, correspondence, and prison records. While Espy's notes were often detailed, the records themselves often lacked information that helped identify the person who was being executed. Often times, the records would indicate the crime committed, when and where the execution took place, the name of the executioner, any fees that the execution produced, and sometimes they even identified the witnesses that attended the execution. Despite all of these details, the name of the person being executed was often left out. Usually if the person being executed was African American or Native American, not only would the record not contain their name, but it would also not contain their gender. This contrasted the execution records of white Americans, which usually had identifiable information including the name of the person being executed, their family, details of the...

2019 Patricia Stocking Brown Research Award Recipients Named

Mark Wolfe - April 30, 2019

ALBANY, N.Y. (April 30, 2019) - The University Libraries at the University at Albany, SUNY today presented the 2019 Patricia Stocking Brown Research Awards to University at Albany graduate student Elizabeth Horning and undergraduate student Joshua Levine. A first year doctoral student in the Department of Educational Policy and Leadership, School of Education, Ms. Horning received $500 for her research on Dr. Alice Green. This project, initially created by Ms. Horning for her senior Capstone project in History under the supervision of Dr. Laura Wittern-Keller, examines the interdisciplinary education of the Albany-based, social justice advocate Dr. Green and her professional activism. As a graduate student, Ms. Horning is revising this project for publication and presentation opportunities and potentially expanding it to include other contemporaneous New York activists with education backgrounds. From left to right: Dr. Laura Wittern-Keller, Elizabeth Horning, Dr. Richard Hamm, Joshua Levine, Dr. Michitake Aso