A Hampton Bays-based foundation has awarded Long Island University in Brookville $500,000 to help organize and preserve historical documents.

Students from LIU’s Palmer School of Library and Information Science will work with local historical societies from across Long Island to “help these small historical societies understand how to handle their objects, catalogue them, open up the vaults to see what they really do own and digitize them so other organizations will have access to them and be able to use them for research,” Kathryn M. Curran, Executive Director of the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation, said in an interview Friday.

Curran said there are more than 120 historical societies in Suffolk County alone, and they don’t have the resources to thoroughly examine and preserve what in many cases is a treasure trove of historical documents.

“It would boggle your mind if you knew what I’ve seen be pulled out of filing cabinets, Curran said. 

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The foundation primarily supports the study of New York State history, with a focus on Long Island, Curran said.

The project will be led by Gregory Hunter, a professor of library and information science who heads the doctoral program at the Palmer School, LIU said in a news release. Hunter is the editor of The American Archivist, the journal of the Society of American Archivists.