Since its founding in 1899, the Research Library has developed noteworthy collections on Colonial American and New York State history and culture, nineteenth century American art history, Native American art and culture, folklore, and museum studies.

Significant Holdings

American Art History (19th Century)
American art history is one of the library's largest areas of interest. The collection covers in depth the fields of the graphic arts, the decorative arts, architecture, and crafts. Basic references, exhibit and sale catalogs, and works on influences from abroad are included. Books on folk art, Native American art, and photography are also well represented.

Folk Art
The folk art collection concentrates on art of the United States from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It includes graphic and decorative arts in traditional, visionary, and outsider styles. Foreign folk art is included.

Researchers looking for their upstate New York roots would do well to visit our genealogy collection. The family history section (929s) is located adjacent to the reading area and contains genealogies of New York State families, church and cemetery records, newspaper indexes, and basic genealogical works. In the microform area are census records (1790-1930), newspapers, and directories. Nineteenth century atlases, county histories, and biographical reviews are found in the Local History Room. Genealogists shouldn't forget to check Special Collections to see if there are manuscripts pertaining to the places where their families lived.

History of Agricultural and Rural Life
The library has an extensive collection of materials on the history of U.S. agriculture and rural life, with an emphasis on New York State. Sources included are both primary and secondary ones. All time periods are well represented, but the holdings on nineteenth century farming in upstate New York are particularly extensive. The curators of The Farmers' Museum find the collection helpful as they interpret the state's rural history for the public. The library is continually adding current publications on the history of farming to its collections as well as picking up manuscripts and out-of-print books.

Local History
The library has a comprehensive collection on the history of communities in the state. The types of material included are county and town histories, biographical reviews, and city and county directories. The Local History Room houses nineteenth century atlases for all of New York's counties, as well as history and travel publications for Otsego County and sixteen nearby counties. Histories of the other counties are found in the New York State section on the main floor. Special Collections has business records and account books, diaries, church records, town records, maps, and post cards of many local communities.

Material Culture
The library holds a large collection of books dealing with American material culture from the contact period to the present. The collection is useful for its diversity of methodological approaches to the study of material culture. The trade catalog files in Special Collections give us information on products made by many companies in the past.

Museum Studies
The museum studies collection consists of a wide range of books and periodicals covering museum education, exhibition, administration, collections management and conservation. Our collection is continually being updated with current publications since it is extensively used by museum staff and students from the Cooperstown Graduate Program in History Museum Studies.

Native American Art and Culture
With the acquisition of the Eugene and Clare Thaw collection of North American Indian Art by the Fenimore Art Museum, the library has increased its book collection of Native American art and culture. The books cover the arts and crafts of the six major culture areas. Included are works on basketry, pottery, textiles, jewelry, beadwork, totems, and carvings. The book collection donated by the Thaws greatly increased the library's holdings on Native American art.

New York State History
The library has an extensive collection on New York State history. The topics covered are varied, including colonial history, political history, religious history, local history, and family history. Many publications deal with the state's involvement in wars, its transportation, its social history, its ethnic history, and its change from a small Dutch colony to the Empire State we know today. Besides the books, the periodicals, newspapers, maps, and manuscripts help us to have an understanding of our state's rich past.

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