Latest Posts

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

Espy Project Fall Update

Gregory Wiedeman - October 06, 2017

Project Page Project Announcement, April 2017 Github repository It's well past time for an update on the Espy Project. We've done a lot over the past 6 months, working to make the stories of the over 15,000 people executed by the state accessible to the public. There is still plenty to do, but we're off to a great start. Here is what we've completed so far. We've successfully digitized almost 33,000 sides of index cards and started on the over 115,000 pages of reference material. Working with an outside vendor, we shipped off 21 boxes of index cards and 46 record boxes out for scanning. All of the index cards have been completed and reviewed, as well as 3 of the 46 boxes of reference material. This gives us enough to start moving along, creating metadata, and making everything available to the public. In the past, once we receive the...

Mark Wolfe Wins Excellence Award

Mark Wolfe - May 09, 2017

Mark Wolfe, along with fourteen UAlbany faculty and staff, was named a winner of this year's President's Excellence Award, which honors those who are "exemplary models of the outstanding performance expected from all University employees." Mark Wolfe (center) with Dean Mugridge (left) and President Stellar (right). Mark is the Curator of Digital Collections, and this November 2017 will mark his 10th anniversary since starting his job. </img>

Sheri Sarnoff Named 2017 Patricia Stocking Brown Research Award Recipient

Mark Wolfe - May 05, 2017

The University Libraries at the University at Albany, SUNY today presented the 2017 Patricia Stocking Brown Fund for Feminist Social Justice Research Award to University at Albany undergraduate student Sheri Sarnoff. A dual History/Psychology major, Ms. Sarnoff received $100 for her research on attempts to establish and maintain a day care facility at the University at Albany, 1969-1983. The project, created as part of the Department of History's Senior Honors Thesis Seminar, explores the respective roles of the Women's Liberation Front, families, and the University administration in efforts to provide on-campus child care. Professors Ryan Irwin and Kori Graves of the Department of History serve as faculty advisors to this project. Ms. Sarnoff expects to receive her Bachelor of Arts degree in May 2018. Sheri Sarnoff (center) with Professors Ryan Irwin (left) and Kori Graves of the Department of History. The annual Award honors Professor Patricia Stocking Brown, who taught...

Erik Stolarski wins Alice Hastings Murphy Scholarship

Mark Wolfe - May 03, 2017

Erik began working in the Fall of 2016 in the Special Collections Department working on collections in the University Archives, such as the Milne School records and the Records of the Office of the President among other duties. Erik also works in the Cataloging Department predominantly cataloging special collection materials such as political pamphlets and monographs. Erik is pursuing an M.S.I.S. and an M.A. in History. Erik, center, poses with award with Mark Wolfe, Nancy Poehlmann, and Dean Mugridge at the 2017 Library Recognition Luncheon. Alice Hastings Murphy Scholarships, are granted to staff employees or student employees who wish to become librarians and who are enrolled in or accepted in an American Library Association accredited library and information science degree program.</img>

Intersession Hours for 2016-2017

Melissa McMullen - December 15, 2016

The M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives will be closed Wednesday, December 21, 2016 through Tuesday, January 2, 2017. The Department will reopen on Wednesday, January 3, 2017, and resume regular reference hours from 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM. The Department's complete reference hours can be found here.