New York State Museum, Education Department, New York
Data Center Description
The New York State Museum is a program of the University of the state of New York and provides management support for a number of extension and outreach programs to museums, historical societies, local government historians, government agencies, and the general public. Most of these services are linked to mandates created in Education Law.
The Office of State Historian is an officially-appointed office with mandated responsibilities to a network of 1,640 appointed local government historians. The State Historian represents the Commissioner of Education on the New York State Board for Historic Preservation and evaluates nominations to the National Register of Historic Places; serves on the State Committee on Geographic Names, the Heritage Areas Advisory Board, the NYS Military History Advisory Board, and other advisory bodies as may be required; serves as "point-of-contact" for legislative, press, and public inquiries on New York State history; offers programs in New York State history as requested and required in order to continue and expand a statewide public presence for the office and the Museum.
The State Committee on Geographic Names is established by Education Law within the Education Department to advise the United States Board on Geographic Names on issues relating to place names in New York. The Committee reviews proposals for new place names and maintains data on existing place names. Staff of the State Museum, State Library, State Archives, with one outside scholar serve on the Committee, with activities coordinated by the Museum. Research is often conducted to evaluate proposals for place name changes.
The Section 233 Permit Program provides for archeological and paleontological research on state lands and is coordinated by the State Museum. This program is mandated by Education Law and protects public cultural and geological resources. Proposals for access to state lands for research purposes are reviewed and permits issued in conjunction with other state agencies. Most applications relate to diving activities and this program provides effective protection for many recently discovered underwater sites in New York. Recently the Museum participated in an interagency initiative to create precedent setting submerged history diving preserves of several sunken French and Indian War vessels in Lake George. As an aspect of Education Law Section 233, staff also provide interagency consultation on the management of historic collections on State property.
The State Historic Marker Program, which was managed by the Education Department?s State History office as an active field program from 1926 to 1966, has now become largely an advisory and data base management program. The archives of that program, as well as the records of over 2,800 historic markers across the State, are maintained by the Museum. Although historic markers are no longer funded by state appropriations, information on past markers continues to serve as a data base for research, marker replacement, and tourism development. Organizations wishing to erect new markers are provided with information and procedures and this Division acts as a clearinghouse for proposals to monument local historic sites.
The Chartering Program is the mechanism by which education corporations are created by the Board of Regents, which oversees the State's educational system. Nonprofit organizations and institutions with educational purposes, such as schools and cultural agencies, seeking to incorporate, must do so under Education Law ? 216. New York State is unique in the United States in this way. While every other state views cultural agencies as nonprofit businesses, New York treats them as educational organizations. This is a significant difference because the underlying assumption of Education Law, as implemented by the Rules of the Regents, is that the Board of Regents will evaluate the quality of an organization or institution that seeks to be incorporated. This is the same judgment applied by the Board of Regents when it considers the chartering of schools and institutions of higher learning. In fact, the charter is the instrument used to incorporate schools and colleges, as well as mo st cultural agencies. Because of the judgment implied in its granting, considerable prestige is associated with a Regents Charter.
The Local Government Historians represent a network of 1,640 appointed historians. This constituency traditionally looks to the State Historian's Office to provide education, training, and expertise on a wide variety of subjects relevant to their responsibilities. It represents for the Museum a legally-mandated, state-wide, historical outreach program to every county and municipal jurisdiction in the state.