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Poly Archives & Special Collections

Guide to the collections in the Poly Archives at Bern Dibner Library, New York University.

Using the Materials

Please note that in-person appointments are not available at this time.  

Contact us via email for reference requests. Poly Archives at polyarchives@nyu.edu

To locate material across this or other collections at NYU Libraries, you can Search our Finding Aids.

Collection Development Policy for Poly Archives

Keller machine, Keller Mechanical Engineering Corporation Collection, Poly Archives.The mission of the Poly Archives is to collect, preserve, arrange, describe, and provide access to materials relating to the administration, faculty, staff, and student life of the former Polytechnic institute (1854-2014).  Collections within the Poly Archives are open to all members of the New York University community, as well as to non-NYU affiliated scholars, researchers, authors, and other interested persons.


Collected materials in the Poly Archives include:

  • Official records, papers, and publications of the Brooklyn Collegiate and Polytechnic Institute, the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, the Polytechnic Institute of New York, Polytechnic University, and the Polytechnic Institute of New York University:
    • Minutes, memoranda, correspondence, and reports of the Board of Trustees
    • Minutes of the Corporation
    • Records of the President’s Office, including correspondence, memoranda, administrative subject files, and President’s Reports
    • Minutes of the Faculty and faculty committees
    • Department records
    • Accreditation reports, including ABET and self-evaluation studies
    • Alumni records, including records of the Alumni Association
    • Publications, newsletters and booklets distributed by the current school or the former university, including catalogs, brochures, press releases, course bulletins, yearbooks, student newspapers and publications, faculty/staff directories, alumni rosters, and alumni publications
    • Publications by former students and faculty, including theses, dissertations, and technical reports
    • Reports of faculty research projects, grants, and patents
    • Photographs, negatives, slides, audio & video film, tapes, reels, compact discs, and digital files documenting the current school and the former university
    • Maps, blueprints, architectural renderings (drawings and models) and floor plans of the former university
    • Banners and pennants of the former university and Poly Pride t-shirts
    • Framed photographs, maps, and documents relating to the former university, including official presidents’ portraits
    • Trophies, mascot costume, and game balls of the former Polytechnic Blue Jays
    • Artifacts, including science and engineering equipment and donated ephemera from students and alumni, relating to the history of the former university
    • Electronic records, including digitized photographs and audio/visual materials, faculty minutes, memoranda of the former university, some publications, and archived websites including www.poly.edu, library.poly.edu and gonyupoly.com.
  • Personal and professional faculty papers.  The following formats are included:
    • Professional and personal correspondence
    • Biographical material, including resumes, bibliographies, biographical sketches, genealogies, newspaper clippings, and personal memoirs
    • Photographs, negatives, and slides
    • Audio and video recordings of lectures, speeches, appearances, and oral histories
    • Lecture/symposia notes and slides
    • Department and course notes
    • Research files
    • Drafts, manuscripts, and annotated copies of articles and books
    • Diaries, notebooks, appointment calendars, and memorabilia
  • Special collections and rare books which relate to the history of the former university
    • Papers or records regarding the history of Downtown Brooklyn or other Polytechnic campuses as they relate to the growth and development of the former university
    • Papers, records, or artifacts documenting the history of engineering and engineering education in Brooklyn
    • Publications by former faculty and prominent alumni
    • Rare books relating to the history of science and technology

Location, Hours, Contact, & Services Information

Search Finding Aids

Search Finding Aids

Plan Your Visit

To plan your visit to the Poly Archives see our website. 

History of the Poly Archives

Blueprint from the Keller Mechanical Engineering Corporation Collection, Poly Archives.

The history of the first one hundred years of the Poly Archives is unclear. Although publications, documents, and photographs from this time period are part of the archives, the collection and maintenance of these items was most likely the effort of interested faculty members rather than a dedicated archival staff.

In 1966, President Weber created the Office of Institute Archivist for Polytechnic employee Alice Woller. Woller, who had previously informally cared for the archival material, was assigned a large office to house the collections in the new Polytechnic library branch at 57 Willoughby Street. Woller laid the groundwork for the Poly Archives by collecting and indexing university publications, documents, photographs, and newspaper clippings.

Five years after opening, the Willoughby Street facility was closed due to fiscal constraints. The position of University Archivist was abolished and Alice Woller retired. The archives moved around, finally coming to rest in the basement of an old firehouse on Jay Street. During this time, the collection was virtually inaccessible. At some point a maintenance crew working in the basement dumped the collection in a heap on the floor, where it remained for years. All indexing was lost and the materials were unusable.

In the 1980s, Polytechnic sold the firehouse in order to acquire property on the future MetroTech campus. Student employees were sent to retrieve the archival material from the firehouse basement. The cartons were placed in RH 117, a library storage area. Although most of the boxes were unpacked and publications were sorted, the original indexing was not restored.

In 1992, the collection moved to the newly constructed Bern Dibner Library of Science and Technology on the MetroTech campus. The dedicated archives and rare book room with moveable shelving provided an adequate space for the archival and special collections material. Some items, such as publications and photographs frequently requested by the Public Relations Department were sorted.

The archival collections are now being surveyed, preserved, and processed. This website is continually updated as newly created finding aids become available.