County Clerk Kendall Announces Launch of MacCracken Index on the Ancient Documents Portal

POUGHKEEPSIE, NEW YORK-       Dutchess County Clerk Brad Kendall in coordination with the Dutchess County Department of History and the Dutchess County Office of Central Information Services is pleased to announce the availability of the MacCracken Index in a digitized, accessible format online.  The MacCracken Index surveys the Ancient Documents Collection, long considered the cornerstone of the county’s archival holdings and consists of county court records from 1721 to 1820.The index volumes are presented in a fully searchable PDF format allowing researchers to search by name, year, location, document type, and document number. The Ancient Documents Portal can be found by visiting www.dutchessny.gov/AncientDocuments. 

 

In 1954, Dutchess County Clerk Frederic A. Smith invited Dr. Henry Noble MacCracken, former President of Vassar College, to examine the Ancient Documents Collection. At the time, the collection was completely unprocessed. MacCracken reported that the documents had “tremendous genealogical and historic value” and recommended that they be indexed for improved access. Over the course of 1955, Dr. MacCracken and staff from the County Clerk’s Office inventoried the records in the collection.  They recorded the data on small memorandum cards, which County Clerk Smith compiled into two large index volumes, organized by surname.

 

As an accompaniment to the index, 52,000 pages of 18th Century legal documents are viewable on the Ancient Documents Portal.  The digitization conversion of the Ancient Documents has been funded through the New York State Archives Local Government Records Management Improvement Fund (LGRMIF).

Dutchess County Clerk Kendall stated, “We are pleased to offer the MacCracken Index as a search tool and companion to the Ancient Documents Collection.  The index as well as the documents themselves provides a wealth of information about Dutchess County’s rich and vibrant history.  We are pleased to offer such an extensive digital library that serves as a premier research resource, ready for inquisitive minds to explore.”

 

Dutchess County Historian Tatum stated, “As Dr. MacCracken noted the Ancient Documents offers ‘tremendous genealogical and historical value’.   The collection serves as an unparalleled research repository and are among the state’s most complete of 18th century court documents.”

 

Dutchess County Office of Central & Information Services Commissioner Glenn R. Marchi, Ph.D. stated, “The search portal, developed by the Dutchess County Office of Central and Information Services (OCIS), provides yet another example of a traditional medium being digitally transformed. The index allows researchers the opportunity to perform keyword searches, improving usability across a broader range of inquiries.  The collaboration between the OCIS and the County Clerk has brought together ideas and resources for a common purpose and we’ve witnessed already its amplified impact.”

 

Special recognition goes to Justin Mancini, the County Archivist, for digitizing the nearly 1000 pages of the indices and producing the digital surrogates.