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