The Honorable the Members of the Board of Regents


Carole F. Huxley


Cultural Education


OCE 2003 Report on Actions to Increase Staff and Programmatic Diversity


May 28, 2004




Better Reflection of, and Response to, New York’s Demographics








While it is a slow and difficult process to achieve a workforce that reflects New York’s remarkably rich diversity, we have been working in a number of other ways to respond to the needs of our many different populations.  The attached report includes actions to that end initiated in the last year within the State Museum, the State Library and the State Archives, as well as in programs across the state supported through discretionary grants.


The document is somewhat lengthy, but I encourage you to browse it.  It represents a USNY approach with many partners – from the military to social service organizations to higher education institutions – to ensure improved services to those who have been less well served in the past.  Recognizing that there is a very long way to go to eliminate the gap in opportunity and resources for learning, staff has exhibited both initiative and creativity in finding ways to narrow it. 


We would welcome your comments and suggestions on how to improve our work.






Report on Actions to Increase Staff and Program Diversity in the Office of Cultural Education


The Office of Cultural Education remains committed to increasing diversity among its programs and staff.  Because the hiring freeze decreases the opportunities for making our staff more representative of New York’s population, we have had little chance to hire people of color in the past year.  However, we have been able to promote or hire a limited number of support staff and two librarian trainees via the Civil Service Workers with Disabilities Program.  We continue to recruit a diverse group of volunteers and interns to the greatest extent possible.


Through a variety of programs and activities, OCE program areas have continued to highlight the diverse communities of New York State and to improve services to all New Yorkers.  Below is a report on the major actions taken in 2003 to improve services to the diverse communities in New York.





Major Activities


The State Museum has continued its practice of recruiting retired individuals over the age of 55 and individuals with physical and mental disabilities as volunteers to the Museum.  These volunteers assist in all aspects of Museum operations, including research and collections, education, visitor services, special events and administrative assistance.  In 2003, 48 individuals over the age of 55 volunteered their services to the Museum providing 5,439 hours of service.  In addition, 45 individuals with disabilities volunteered approximately 450 hours, accomplishing tasks that were significant to the operation of the Museum.


The New York State Museum Volunteer Office continues to strengthen ties with the Retired Senior Volunteer Program of the Capital District to offer their patrons additional volunteer opportunities in the downtown area.  Over the past year, we have also continued strengthening our relationships with the Albany and Schenectady ARCs (Albany Rehabilitation Centers) and the Community Living Partnerships program.


The State Museum has designed and initiated a program to provide support to graduate students at the University at Albany in the areas of Anthropology, Biology, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, and History.  Four fellows were funded in the 2003-04 academic year, three female and one Hispanic male.  One of the fellow’s dissertation research focuses on the Rapp Road African-American community in western Albany; a second focuses on osteological analysis of the Albany Almshouse Cemetery, which contained the remains of individuals in poverty from nineteenth and early 20th-century Albany.


Late in 2003, representatives from the National Museum of the United States Army (NMUSA) approached the Museum.  NMUSA is preparing to open a major facility in Arlington Virginia, in 2009.  In preparation for the opening, it became clear that there was a significant lack of minority representation among military museum professionals.  They initiated a program in cooperation with Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Universities of Interest to Hispanic Students and Native American Colleges to encourage their undergraduate students to consider careers in museums.  The intent is to introduce students to careers in museums and to support their development in the profession.  The first group of students is expected in summer 2004.


Other Notable Activities


The Museum continues documentation of its inventory of Native American human remains and funerary objects as required by Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA).  The inventory includes information on Native American human remains and funerary objects from approximately 120 different localities in New York and other states.  Notices have been published in the Federal Register, and consultations have begun to allow the repatriation of culturally affiliated human remains.


          Research and Collections, in association with the Museum Education program held its third Earth Science Teachers Institute in July 2003.  The Institute is designed to offer teachers an opportunity to learn more about the research conducted at the Museum and how it can assist them in their classrooms.  The Earth Sciences Institute reserved five spaces out of twenty-five for teachers working in economically disadvantaged schools and underserved communities, or in schools with historically low test scores.  The Earth Sciences Institute will be repeated this summer.  An additional Institute, focused on the Iroquois of New York, was held during the fall of 2003.  This Institute was organized around the theme of the longhouse, affording 12 educators the opportunity to learn about the history, structure, symbolism, and use of Iroquoian longhouses from scientific and Iroquoian viewpoints


The Colonial Albany Social History Project is a model community history program that was formed in 1981 to understand pre-industrial community life by studying the contributions of the diverse individuals who lived in the city of Albany during its formative years.  This initiative is ongoing, and the goal is to develop a biography for each person who lived in the pre-industrial city.  Special efforts are being undertaken to look for Afro Albanians in the historical record, and new information on early Albany's African ancestry community continues to evolve.  More information can be found by visiting the following link:


The New York State Museum, with the assistance of its Office for Community Relations, endeavors to encourage under-represented populations to use the services and programs of the New York State Museum.  Some programs continue to be part of the Museum’s standard offering in a calendar year.  Such programs include:  the Governor’s annual Kick-Off Celebration for African American History Month; the Capital Region Kwanzaa Celebration; and, the Hispanic Heritage Celebration.  As part of our annual Hispanic Heritage program, a special display was set up to showcase the work of Peruvian artists.


In collaboration with HBO and the Library of Congress, the Museum hosted the regional premiere of the HBO special, Unchained Memories:  Readings From The Slave Narratives.  In February 2003, an exhibition on the life of Paul Robeson brought a number of community groups into the Museum.  The groups included the local graduate chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha, Fraternity Incorporated.  The men of America’s oldest Black male fraternity presented a program on the life of Paul Robeson.  The women of the Albany District Links and Alpha Kappa Alpha, Sorority Incorporated served as docents for the exhibition.  Several church organizations felt comfortable enough to ask to use the exhibition as a teaching tool and backdrop for their own programs.


In the spring of 2003 the Museum initiated an audit of the Museum’s accessibility level for persons with disabilities and others.  The audit covered gallery and other public places.


In 2003, after several years of discussion and negotiation the Museum began collecting material associated with late 20th century African American culture in New York.  The collection will be formally presented to the Museum as part of an initiative between the New York State Museum and the GirlFriend, Incorporated in late May 2004.  The material includes donations from the family of James Weldon and John Rosemond Johnson.


In the late fall of 2003, the New York State Museum entered into an informal agreement with OASIS (Older Adult Services and Information Systems) at SUNY Albany.  The Museum will produce a series of programs specifically designed for OASIS participants on a variety of areas of cultural interest.  The first scheduled program is an early morning breakfast and tour of the Barbizon School art exhibition from The Metropolitan Museum of Art.


The Museum continues its ongoing relationship with the Thomas O’Brien Academy for Science and Technology (TOAST) Magnet School, providing educational support and programming when needed, and with Albany High School providing space for a class in communications and program production.  Albany High School students present a program at the end of the school year for students in the surrounding public schools using Museum facilities.


The Museum’s award winning, after-school program is now in its seventeenth year.  The Museum Club provides a safe and educational alternative for children in our local community during those dangerous after-class hours of 3 and 5 p.m.  Continued also is the Discovery Squad, a work and study program for local teens.





Major Activities


Even in times when hiring is less restricted, the Archives has faced difficulties attracting diverse qualified candidates with a strong archives and records management knowledge base.  In addition, there is a generally acknowledged absence of diversity in the archives and records management profession overall.  To address these issues, we are exploring alternative methods of recruitment, including fostering partnerships with colleges and universities with degree programs required for Archives and Records Management Specialist (ARMS) exams and increasing the use of interns.  During 2003, we began discussions with Civil Service about revamping the entry-level ARMS 1& 2 exams and the ARMS 3 exam to training and experience exams.  In addition, the training and experience requirements for the ARMS 1 & 2 exams will be modified. These changes are being made in order to attract a more diverse pool of qualified candidates to our positions.


Other Notable Activities


The New York State Archives’ Documentary Heritage Program (DHP) is a statewide initiative working to ensure the equitable and comprehensive documentation and accessibility of all of New York’s extraordinarily rich history and culture.  Central to the project is an understanding that different organizations and groups -- governments, businesses, institutions, non-governmental organizations, community organizations, ethnic groups and families -- have different ways of thinking about and documenting their activities.


In 2002, the State Archives received grant funding from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) to provide additional funds for the Documentary Heritage Program through the 2005-2006 DHP Grant cycle.  One focus of the additional funding is on under-documented groups in New York.


For 2003-2004, 10 of the 14 Documentary Heritage Program funded grants focused on projects documenting and making accessible the historical records of under-documented populations.  Following is a summary of those projects:


1) A Gathering of the Tribes, Inc.

    This project is collecting and categorizing documents pertaining to the squatter homesteader struggle (1983-2003).  The squatter homesteaders are an under-documented community composed of many immigrants and low-income artists who "illegally" occupied vacant city-owned property to house them and their families and revitalize the community.  Their efforts resulted in the unprecedented municipal commencement of a process of title conversion and low-income, co-op ownership.


2) City University of New York

    The CUNY Dominican Studies Institute at the City College of New York is conducting a survey to locate and plan for the permanent preservation of historical records documenting the contributions of the New York Dominican Community.


3) Community Consortium, Inc.

    The Community Consortium, a not-for-profit organization composed of people with psychiatric histories and their allies, is surveying records of over 100 state-funded consumer/survivor/ex-patient organizations (c/s/x); unincorporated self-help and advocacy groups; electronic records of c/s/x listservs and websites; and personal memoirs and papers of key activists.

4) Hofstra University

    The University is surveying the records of Latino organizations and individuals on Long Island and educating record holders as to why their records need to be ordered and preserved and placed in historical repositories.


5) Onondaga Historical Association

    The Association is identifying and preserving the historical records of the Latino community in Syracuse and Onondaga Counties.  The project will conduct a broad survey of 80 Latino organizations, individuals, arts groups, social groups, businesses, political organizations, movements and religious groups, identifying primary source material and archival documents that will help preserve the history and culture of the area's plural Latino communities.


6) Port Washington Public Library

    The library is conducting a survey to identify records documenting the lives and experiences of key Latino/Hispanic individuals and organizations on Long Island's North Shore.


7) Rensselaer County Historical Society

    This project is to arrange and describe the records of human services organizations in the Rensselaer County Historical Society.  The records date from the mid-19th century to the present and impart a wide spectrum of documentation of the populations in Troy that have needed assistance and those individuals and groups that provided that assistance.


8) Rochester Museum and Science Center

    The Museum, in partnership with the Rochester Latino community, is identifying holders of significant records that tell the story of the Rochester Latino Community and producing a Guide to these collections.


9) Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn

    This project will conduct a survey of records held by diocesan-level Hispanic ministry offices in the Roman Catholic Dioceses of New York, Brooklyn, and Rockville Centre.  It will also gather parish and renewal group representatives to plan a further documentation survey of their records.


10) University of Rochester Rush Rhees Library

    The University’s Rush Rhees Library is surveying the records of the Asian/Pacific Islander/American community in the Great Rochester area (primarily Monroe County but also including Wayne, Orleans, Genesee, Ontario and Livingston Counties).


The Verizon Legacies Project, an outgrowth of four State Archives supported projects at Liberty High School in Manhattan, focuses on the literacy needs of recent immigrants, high school level to adults, who are learning to read and write English.  In 2003 the project website was completed and teacher and literacy service provider training programs and community receptions began.  The website includes histories of the Chinese and Latino communities in NYC, Yonkers, Albany, Syracuse and Buffalo. Each history is accompanied by a document-based question (DBQ).  The DBQs were developed to link closely with SED Learning Standards and Assessments.  The philosophy is that we learn more effectively when the educational materials we use are related to our own life experiences.  Buffalo, Syracuse, the Capital District and Yonkers are the sites for the training programs and receptions (to be completed by March, 2004). The Legacies Project can be viewed at:


          In June 2003, the State Archives’ Local Government Records Management Improvement Fund awarded grants for the Educational Use of Local Government Records to 22 local governments, which included many high-needs school districts and several teacher centers.  The projects involved the use of local government and other community historical records to support SED learning standards and preparation for state assessments.  Teachers are trained how to locate documents and develop document-based learning materials, and students and teachers work side-by-side on document-based community projects.

·       In NYC, three Community School Districts - 7, 8, and 10, working with a consultant, compiled copies of local government and other historical records (maps, photographs, census records, and more) to create digital collections of local historical resources for students and teachers in nine schools in the Bronx - PS 30, PS 154, IS 151, PS 46, PS 81, PS 306, PS 48, PS 72, and PS 119.


          Fifth grade students from PS 197 in Manhattan were the winners of the State Archives grades 4 & 5 Student Research Award.  The students discovered the subject of their winning project on a walking tour of their neighborhood in Harlem.  Using historical records, they compiled a written report about the architecture of Hamilton Grange – home of Alexander Hamilton - and wrote fictional accounts of what Hamilton’s reaction might be if he were to return to the Grange in the year 2003.  They used information from historical records to support their fictional accounts.  Some students imagined Hamilton coming to life from a ten-dollar bill and encountering the 21st century, filled with people who don’t talk the way he does, and who make fun of his clothes.  He is amazed that a bustling city has grown up around his farmhouse and that slavery no longer exists.


Rediscovering New York History and Culture is another initiative of the State Archives aimed at improving the coverage and content of New York's documentary heritage and making it accessible to all.  The purpose is to ensure that all the diverse communities, peoples, and events in New York history are fully documented and that documentary evidence is easily accessible for research and learning.  The Rediscovering New York website contains links to a vast array of information and resources linking finding aids, indexes, and guides; documentation projects; exhibits and digitized collections; publications; and/or additional resources related to people, groups, or cultures.  See  Among the topics users can search are: African American, Asian American, European American, Gay and Lesbian, Jewish, Latinos, Multi-Ethnic, Native American, People with Disabilities, People/Groups/Culture and Women.  We continue to add links, as resources are made available on the World Wide Web.


Another avenue for researchers to find information on diverse groups is through the Historic Document Inventory.  This online catalog contains more than 23,000 catalog records for archives and manuscripts collections housed locally at repositories throughout New York State (libraries, historical societies, and other organizations with established archives).  This year, 19 records relating to African Americans, 65 concerning Children, 14 dealing with European Americans, 3 relating to Jews, 1 concerning Latinos, 17 dealing with lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender people, 18 concerning Native Americans, one addressing people with disabilities and 124 relating to women, were added to the catalog.


          The Larry J. Hackman Research Resident program supports advanced work in New York State history, government or public policy, and encourages public dissemination of research products.  Three of the projects selected for funding in 2003 focused on issues of diversity and culture:


1.  "Oneida Nation Archival Project Proposal" (Marlene Doxtator, Oneida Nation [Ontario, Canada])


Ms. Doxtator identified records that document the history of the Oneidas of New York prior to the early 19th century, when almost all of them migrated to Wisconsin and Ontario.


2.  "Community Development Corporations in New York, 1968-2002" (Kimberley S. Johnson, Barnard College)


Ms. Johnson used Archives records to trace the contrasting histories of community development corporations in Harlem and Bedford-Stuyvesant, both predominantly Black communities.

3.  The Hills: A Rural African-American Community in Westchester County, 1780s-1920s (Edythe A. Quinn, Ph.D., Hartwick College)


Dr. Quinn has used records to identify members of an African-American community in upper Westchester County, which coalesced after the abolition of slavery in New York and endured until the early 20th century.


New York Archives, an award-winning quarterly magazine of the State Archives and the Archives Partnership Trust, draws its contents from information that exists in archival records that are found in virtually every community in New York State.  Features in the 2003 issues included:


La Curación en el Norte (“The Cure” in the North)/ Amy Catania

Wealthy Latin Americans traveled to Saranac Lake to treat and cure their tuberculosis.


True Stories/Judith Wellman

Following the Freedom Trail in Oswego County.


“…to speak of myself to others…”/ Sheila Edmunds

The achievements of Fort Lewis Seliney, advocate for the deaf.


“Spanish Negroes” and Their Fight for Freedom/Richard Bond

Enslaved Spaniards in early New York used the courts to win back their freedom.


Regularly occurring departments in the magazine included the following articles:

Sagoyewatha (Red Jacket)/Christopher Densmore

The Fresh Air Fund/Deborah Schwabach

Unintended Casualties of John Brown’s Raid/Kathleen D. Roe





Major Activities


In 2003, diversity was added to the State Library's collections through resources such as databases available statewide through NOVEL, the New York Online Virtual Electronic Library. Among new databases added in 2003 is ¡Informe! (Revistas en Español), a database specifically designed to meet the research needs of Spanish-speaking users.  It provides access to 117 full-text Spanish-language and bilingual magazine articles, reports and maps.  There are over 75,000 articles with daily updates.


Remote access improves services to customers with disabilities who may find it difficult to visit a Library.  All New Yorkers have convenient access to high-quality, current health-related information in NOVEL databases, such as Health Reference Center-Academic (HRCA), a source for both medical care professionals and consumers.  A single search gives users access to hundreds of journals, over 500 pamphlets and many reference services including the current PDR Index and The Medical and Health Information Directory.  It contains 600, full-text titles.


The New York State Talking Book and Braille Library (TBBL) lends Braille and recorded books and magazines, and the equipment to use them, to residents of the 55 upstate counties of New York State who are unable to read standard printed materials because of a physical disability.  TBBL is the Regional Library for the upstate region in the nationwide program coordinated by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, a division of the Library of Congress, in Washington DC.


The Division of Library Development administers a number of annual grant programs that provide significant services to a diverse population of library users through grants to libraries and library systems.  The New York State Library administers federally funded LSTA Special Services grants and the New York State funded Adult Literacy Library Services and the Parent and Child Library Services grant programs which enable public libraries and systems to reach out to diverse populations.  Some specific 2003 grant projects that are aimed at a diverse audience and supported by funds administered by the State Library are:

1)      Greater Poughkeepsie Public Library District (Dutchess) - Familias & La Biblioteca

Low-income Spanish speaking immigrant families improve their literacy skills and become knowledgeable about library services.  Five Parent/Child Workshop sessions are facilitated by a bilingual resource professional.  Parents are able to ask parenting questions and receive information about local health services.  A Bonding with Baby program and a Hear and Say program model read-aloud techniques and tips on how to share books with babies and toddlers.

2)      Hempstead Public Library (Nassau) - El Centro de Informacion Para los Padres y los Ninos: Information Center for Parents and Children

Spanish speaking families attend bilingual story times, presentations on community information resources and computer training workshops.  The Hempstead Library website is being translated into Spanish and the book collection is expanded with bilingual titles.  A family festival, "El dia de los ninos/ El dia de los libros," features a well-known, multi-lingual storyteller.

3)      Ossining Public Library (Westchester) - Rimos y Ritmo

Latino families with children up to age four attend a five-week program of music and rhythm, with songs and nursery rhymes in both Spanish and English.  The library partners with First Steps, a preschool program.  Parents are educated on the cognitive development of young children and the services the library provides.

4)      Geneva Free Library (Ontario) - Wee Read Together

Outreach to four child development centers includes story-times, hands-on activities, special family programs and in-service trainings.  Story-times include bilingual activities and story-stretching arts and crafts. In-service training for daycare staff focuses on literacy material selections and read aloud techniques.  Activities and resources improve kindergarten readiness and increase staff knowledge of literacy and library services.


5)      Hempstead Public Library (Nassau)  - Numbers/Talk 2


    The Library acquires new interactive software packages for Pre-GED and GED preparation, expands the number of GED math classes, and provides online preparation for the Licensed Practical Nurse exam.  Conversation classes using "Ingles Sin Barreras" are offered days and evenings.  The Hispanic Civic Association, the Hispanic Counseling Center and Town of Hempstead Department of Occupational Resources are cooperating agencies.

6)    Monroe County Library System (Monroe) - ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) Service

     The Monroe County Library System and its member libraries help refugees and immigrants acquire basic English skills for speaking, reading and writing.  Improved collections for the target audience, multi-cultural training for library and agency staff, and the creation of a welcoming atmosphere in the library, are goals.

7)    Oneida Public Library (Madison) - Project Read/Ever Expanding.

Oneida Public Library with the Sherrill, Canastota, Morrisville, Hamilton Public Libraries and the Earlville Free Library in Madison and Oneida Counties expand ESOL class offerings, adapt adult literacy services to meet the needs of adults with learning disabilities and provide tutors for adults who are participating in the Even Start program. Project partners are broadly based.  Some partners are: Literacy Volunteers of America, Manpower International, Family Ties Coalition and Learning Disabilities Association of Central New York.

8)      Port Washington Public Library (Nassau) - Literacy Enhancement for Developmentally Disabled Adults

Developmentally disabled adults have the opportunity to improve literacy skills through participation in bi-weekly book discussion groups led by a trained teacher.  New books and other materials purchased for the target audience support the discussion groups.  This project partners with the Port Washington School District's Office of Educational and Community Services.

9)      Queens Borough Public Library (Queens) - Adult Learner Program (ALP) Health Literacy

Queens Library collaborates with the Queens Health Network and the Mayor's Office of Health Insurance Access to develop a basic health literacy curriculum for students in the Library's ESOL classes.  A series of eight 12-week courses will be held in the Library's Adult Learning Centers.  Course goals include: improving English language skills, learning such health-related skills as how to talk with your own or your child's doctor, and increasing awareness of sources of health information at the library and on the Internet.

10)   Saratoga Springs Public Library (Saratoga) - ESOL Connect @ the Library

The Library supports the transition of non-English speaking immigrants into the community.  In partnership with Literacy Volunteers of Saratoga, Inc., tutors are recruited and trained in one-on-one tutoring skills and in use of the library.  Library staff receives sensitivity training for work with the new population.  An ESOL collection to support tutor and student needs is being developed and instruction offered in a computer-based English language program.

11)   Schenectady County Public Library (Schenectady) - Literacy Outreach and Opportunity Project-LOOP

Schenectady County Public Library, together with nine branch libraries and the Mohawk Valley Library System, works to meet the literacy needs of an increasing immigrant population.  The Library and Literacy Volunteers of America-Mohawk/Hudson expand their partnership with additional recruitment and training of ESOL tutors.  The Library's collection of ESOL materials is updated and a discussion series helps the target population learn about the library's resources.

12) The New York Public Library, The Branch Libraries (New York) - ESOL Instruction at the Muhlenberg Branch Library

     The Library, in collaboration with the Riverside Language Program, provides instruction to ESOL students in the Chelsea community of Manhattan.  Materials are purchased to enhance student learning and library staff introduce students to materials, technology, job information, and lifelong learning opportunities.