LIU Researcher Finds Key Document on Culper Spy Ring

Brookville, NY, May 4, 2022  Long Island University announced a researcher who is exploring George Washington’s Culper Spy Ring has found key documents that were previously unknown in its digital archives. The historic discovery was found in LIU’s “Digitizing Local History Sources,” which offers the public access to a vast resource of historical materials related to Long Island.

According to the researcher, Mark Sternberg, the Culper Spy Ring Historian for the Drowned Meadow Cottage Museum in Port Jefferson, NY, one newly-discovered document, in particular, is highly significant as it relates directly to Washington’s Culper Spy Ring. Washington used illicit trading as a cover for spy operations in other locations, but before now Mr. Sternberg had never seen this tactic mentioned in relation to the Culper Spy Ring. When comparing this document to others Mr. Sternberg has recently found, John Roe Jr., brother of courier Austin Roe, emerges as the head of this cover operation. The operation ran from Drowned Meadow, now modern-day Port Jefferson, to areas in and near Fairfield and Stratford in Connecticut.

This notable find is only one of many fascinating documents and photographs that scholars, researchers and the general public are uncovering now that LIU’s treasure trove of digital archives is accessible.

Long Island University’s Palmer School of Library and Information Science recently launched “Digitizing Local History Sources,” a groundbreaking five-year project and website offering the public access to more than 65,000 pages of historical materials from 45 participating historical societies across Long Island. The endeavor was funded by a $1.5 million grant from the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation.

Ranked among the “Best Archival Science Programs” in the country by U.S. News & World Report, the Palmer School has offered 105 master’s and doctoral students the ability to digitize the documents since the project launched in 2017.

“Students of the Palmer School have become world-renowned archivists, historians and librarians,” said Long Island University President Kimberly R. Cline. “I am proud that LIU can offer them a unique experiential learning opportunity that will forever preserve the history of Long Island.”

The collection documents the breadth of life on Long Island: from the diary of a 1920s schoolgirl to the daily calendar of a World War II school superintendent; from the daily account book of an 18th century blacksmith to advertising scrapbooks from the quintessential Long Island department store; from 17th century deeds to 20th century real estate agent records; from photos of early 1900s automobile races to scrapbooks documenting the destruction caused by the Hurricane of 1938; and from the daily life of wealthy Gold Coast residents to the treasured photo albums of Fire Island community members.

The “Digitizing Local History Sources” project can be accessed by visiting this link. Current students of the Palmer School continue to digitize historical documents and update the collection on an ongoing basis.

About Long Island University

Long Island University, founded in 1926, continues to redefine higher education, providing high quality academic instruction by world-class faculty. Recognized by Forbes for its emphasis on experiential learning and by the Brookings Institution for its “value added” to student outcomes, LIU offers nearly 250 degree programs, with a network of over 280,000 alumni that includes industry leaders and entrepreneurs across the globe. Visit for more information.

Post sponsored by Long Island University

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