New Haven, Conn..-Yale University Library has received a grant of $250,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to support "The New England Indian Papers Series: The Connecticut Colony Collection, 1603-1783," an online compendium of important and rare historical documents relating to the Native American peoples of Connecticut during the colonial period from First Contact to 1783. The grant is part of the NEH's "We the People" program, which encourages and strengthens the teaching, study and understanding of American history and culture.
For years, scholars and tribal members interested in New England Native Americans have been hampered by a lack of published primary source materials, despite the existence of thousands of relevant documents. Equally problematic for researchers is the dispersion of original materials across a number of repositories, mostly throughout the Northeast. Archaic or poor handwriting or restrictions placed on worn and fragile papers also make research time-consuming and costly.
"In today's technology-driven age, students, teachers and scholars need a varied but reliable source of information when researching topics such as New England Indian communities," said Paul Grant-Costa, the project director and the Executive Editor of the Yale Indian Papers Project. "By gathering related primary resources from various institutions together in one place and making them readily accessible, both visually and intellectually, 'The New England Indian Papers Series' brings research about New England Native Americans into the 21st century."
Several institutions with significant New England Indian collections - including Yale, the Connecticut State Library, the Connecticut Historical Society, the Massachusetts Archives and the National Archives of the United Kingdom - have formed a collaborative archival and educational initiative called the Yale Indian Papers Project (YIPP). Based at Yale's Lewis Walpole Library in Farmington, Connecticut, the project will address the restoration of lost history by publishing an electronic database, "The New England Indian Papers Series." As the first in the series, "The Connecticut Colony Collection" will comprise over 1,400 primary source materials written by, about or for Connecticut Indians. Taken together, the documents reveal a continued Native American presence in the region, as well as the Native American experience in a colonial world. The database will allow researchers and the general public to explore nearly 400 years of New England Native American history, community, culture, sovereignty, land, migration, law and politics, as well as issues of gender, race, and identity.
"The Yale Indian Papers Project builds on the rich tradition of scholarly editing based at Yale that began with W.S. Lewis's magisterial 'Yale Edition of the Correspondence of Horace Walpole,' " said Margaret K. Powell, the W.S. Lewis Librarian and Executive Director of the Lewis Walpole Library, "The project also establishes connections between 18th-century British history and culture and the Native Americans in New England, allowing us to think broadly of a Native Atlantic world."