Long Island University received a $695,000 grant to fund the Robert Moses Archival Project for digitizing and preserving the Island’s historical records, university officials announced Tuesday.
“From Huntington to the Hamptons, from Fire Island to Gardiners Island, the history of Long Island is rich and varied,” LIU President Kimberly R. Cline said in a statement. “By working to preserve Robert Moses’ archival heritage, we’re bringing another part of that history to life.”
The grant, which starts Feb. 1, is being provided by the Hampton Bays-based Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation, according to a news release. The archival project will be overseen by LIU’s Palmer School of Library and Information Science in partnership with the state Department of Parks and the New York State Archives.
Robert Moses held many titles during his decadeslong career, which began in the 1920s and ended in the ’60s, including president of the Long Island State Parks Commission and chairman of the New York State Council of Parks.
He was dubbed “The Power Broker” by Robert A. Caro, whose Pulitzer Prize-winning biography by that title chronicled the life of New York’s master builder. Moses shaped Long Island’s parks and recreation, bridges and highways.
“The influence of Robert Moses on New York State is unparalleled,” Gardiner Foundation executive director Kathryn Curran said in a statement. “Access to his archives will offer researchers new insight, not only to the man, but to the social, political, economic and cultural influences surrounding his massive projects.”
The Robert Moses Archival Collection — which includes photographs, letters and architectural drawings — is currently housed by the state Parks Department at two locations on the Island, and one outside Albany.
The first six months of the grant will be used to take inventory and bring all the records together, said Gregory S. Hunter, project director and professor at the Palmer School.
The following year will be used to arrange and describe the items up to professional archival standards, and the remaining 18 months will be used to digitize as much as possible, he said.
Once digitized, the records will be available on the New York State Archives website.
“It’s been available for some scholars,” Hunter said of the collection, “but our project has the goal of making it available for everyone, so that we all can understand the role that Robert Moses played in shaping the Long Island that we have today.”
This is the second grant to the Palmer School provided by the Gardiner Foundation, which was established in 1987 to support the study of state history. In 2017, the foundation provided a $1.5 million grant to fund a six-year project digitizing materials found in local historical societies. To date, more than 25,000 images and over 5 terabytes of data have been accumulated from more than two dozen historical societies across Nassau and Suffolk counties, according to the release.