LaGuardia And Wagner Legislative Archives Unveiled
LaGuardia Community College officially unveiled its Legislative Archives on May 9. The archives is a repository that will not only house the legislative body’s local laws, documents and photographs, but will maintain an online database of these valuable records dating back to 1938.
The ceremony also recognized Peter Vallone Sr., the first speaker of the modern City Council and supporter of the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives, which is housing the collection; and Assemblymember Catherine Nolan, a stalwart advocate of the archives since her days as a community organizer.
“Speaker Peter Vallone Sr., and Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan’s support and advocacy were instrumental in the establishment of the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives,” said Dr. Gail O. Mellow, president of LaGuardia Community College. “From the very beginning both strongly believed that we needed to have a resource for Queens history in our borough.”
Since its establishment in 1982, Vallone provided the archives with capital funding, while Nolan recently allocated funding for the purchase of a climate control system for the almost 4,000-square- foot legislative archives. The ribbon cutting ceremony was held in LaGuardia’s C-building, 7th Floor, at 29-10 Thomson Ave., Long Island City.
“The Council of the City of New York archive collection, housed in the new Legislative Archives represents an unparalleled snapshot of the legislative history of America’s biggest city from the 1930s and into the 21st century,” said Dr. Richard K. Lieberman, director of the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives.
The largest portion of the collection dates from the 1970s through the mid- 2000s.
About 1,500 boxes of city council documents, more than half of the city council collection, are now preserved, indexed and searchable on the archive’s Web site. There are another approximately 1,000 boxes to preserve and index.
Included within the collection are more than 930,000 documents that have been microfilmed and digitized and made available on the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives Web site: Local Laws from 1955 through 2005 that are searchable by date or topic; and over 66,000 photographs of councilmembers at work from the 1980s through 2007 that are available on the Web site.
The largest portion of the collection dates from the 1970s through the 1990s.
The creation of a city council archives was the brainchild of Vallone, who felt that the legislative body should have its own repository. In 1985, he approached Lieberman asking him to house the collection and to begin the herculean task of sifting through the voluminous documents that were being stored in various warehouses throughout the city.
In cooperation with the Municipal Archives/Department of Records and Information Services, the staff at the LaGuardia and Wagner archives have spent the past 27 years reviewing documents and photographs, organizing the materials, indexing them on a database, microfilming, and posting both index records and many full-text documents online. The on-going project will finally make it possible for historians, researchers and LaGuardia students to have easy access to these once-hard-togather documents.
“The history of New York City, as ruled by the law of available data, was basically the mayoral history because documents chronicling the legislative history of the city were difficult to access,” said Lieberman. “This archive now makes it possible to tell the story of the New York city council.”
To view the collection, visit www.laguardiawagnerarchive.lagcc.cuny.edu/COLLECTIONS.aspx.