White Plains Public Library Blog

Join the Librarian for White Plains History and current students from White Plains High School for the White Plains History Roundtable on Wednesday, April 22nd, at 7:00 pm. April’s Roundtable is called Education, Race, and Student Consciousness. The Roundtable is an educational, participatory, and social event where participants learn about events from White Plains’ past, examine primary source materials from the White Plains Collection, and engage in discussion with each other.

April’s Roundtable will focus on White Plains High School Students’ call for racial justice in 1968 and also examine how White Plains’ tradition of progressive education combined with its history of discrimination in economics and housing to influence events at the high school.

When most people picture students protesting in 1968, they think of Columbia University or anti-Vietnam war demonstrations, but young people in White Plains mounted their own protests and campaigns for change. In late March and early April 1968, more than one thousand White Plains High School Students boycotted classes and supported the efforts of student leaders who negotiated with the administration for changes in the curriculum and culture of the high school. The demonstrations and boycotts were led by black students calling for the inclusion of black history and culture in the curriculum of the school. They also wanted more black educators hired and human relations training for all teachers. In many ways, the students were successful and changes were made. However, many of the issues underlying the educational inequity at the school had their roots in the lives of adults and families outside of the school. Persistent discrimination in housing and employment meant that most black, Asian, and Hispanic families had little or no access to the educational, professional, and personal opportunities White Plains offered to white residents.

The story of White Plains High School in 1968 is fascinating on its own, but it is also a strong starting point for discussing broader issues. April’s Roundtable will include a discussion period, with all who attend and wish to participate. Current high school students will be on hand to give a contemporary perspective on the issues raised by the events of 1968. As always, our discussion and presentations will be supported by reports, newspaper articles, yearbooks, and other works from the White Plains Collection which combine to paint a vivid picture of life in 1968 in White Plains.

The image is from the 1968 Oracle, the White Plains High School Yearbook.

Ben Himmelfarb
History Librarian

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Isabel Villar is the Executive Director of El Centro Hispano, an organization that supports the Hispanic Community in White Plains. She is also a longtime resident of White Plains, arriving from Cuba in the late-1960s. In this oral history, Villar describes the experience of being a Hispanic immigrant in White Plains. She tells stories about her first educational and professional experiences, and reflects on the character of Hispanic immigrants in White Plains. Villar’s story is one from among over 17,000 Hispanic people in White Plains and is a great way to begin to gain a sense of what life is like for new and longtime residents alike.

People & Stories is the oral history project of the White Plains Public Library. People & Stories seeks to record and share the voices of people who have lived or worked in White Plains. The project functions by pairing interviewers with storytellers from the community. If you are interested in participating, contact Ben Himmelfarb, the Librarian for White Plains History.

Ben Himmelfarb
History Librarian

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People & Stories is the oral history project of the White Plains Public Library. People & Stories seeks to record and share the voices of people who have lived or worked in White Plains. The project functions by pairing interviewers with storytellers from the community. If you are interested in becoming an interviewer, we have our first training event on Saturday, April 18, from 10:30 am- 12:00 pm at the Library.

Harry Bright’s work as an educator took him around the world, from Cambodia to Europe, and, of course, to White Plains. Bright worked as a teacher and coach at White Plains High School and was Executive Director of the Human Rights Commission for many years. Bright grew up in the South before the civil rights movement, was a highly successful athlete in college, and began teaching in Westchester in the early 1960s. He and his wife moved to White Plains in the mid-1960s and he said he “never felt like a stranger.” In this interview, conducted by Librarian for White Plains History Ben Himmelfarb, Bright shares his goals for an integrated community where “everybody has an equal opportunity in this city.” Some of Bright’s most moving stories are about the positive impact he made on students’ lives through teaching and coaching.

We hope you enjoy listening to this oral history. People & Stories is a great way to learn more about our city and the experiences of the people who make it the dynamic, rich place it is.

Saturday, April 18 from 1:00-3:00 PM

Are you curious about how your car runs and what you can do to keep it from breaking down? Victor Principe from Bronx Community College will teach you about cars and share some basic tips to keep them on the road. All participants will receive a free gift. This program is part of the Allstate Readiness Series, in partnership with the Allstate Foundation and the White Plains Public Library Foundation.

Erik Carlson
Teen Librarian

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During his 86 years, Milton Hoffman was an important presence in White Plains. Hoffman grew up in White Plains and recalls what life was like for kids in the city in this oral history. He also recounts experiences from his 50 years in the newspaper business in White Plains, where his reporting on politics earned him respect from people throughout the county and state.

This oral history is in two parts- after the first interview concluded, Hoffman began recounting the history of White Plains’ Jewish community, and the recorder was turned back on to capture more of his insightful perspective. This occurs at the 1:01:50 mark.

Teens in grades 7-12 are invited to learn how to apply makeup that is appropriate for job interviews and internships. Jill K. of JKFlashy will lead a discussion of makeup techniques for a professional look. During the last hour of the workshop, teens will have the opportunity to practice their new skills. Teens can bring their own makeup to get specific recommendations for using their own products, but this is optional; makeup will be provided for practice. Registration is recommended. Light refreshments will be served.

This program is supported by a grant from The Allstate Foundation.

Kathlyn Carroll
Teen Librarian

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The Westchester County Department of Social Services is sponsoring an exhibit of photos of children needing loving adoptive homes in their annual Heart Gallery Showcase. The exhibit will be on view through April but the need for homes continues year round. For more information, contact Paul Tavolacci at 914-995-5303.

Kathy Degyansky
Assistant Library Director

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Are you a new driver? Getting your license soon? Attend our Allstate Readiness Teen Safe Driving Program, Monday, April 6, 7:00-8:00 p.m. in the Library auditorium. Learn safe driving tips from certified driving instructor Jim Fatigate. Parents welcome. Students will earn one hour of community service credit for attending. Refreshments provided.

Supported by a generous grant from The Allstate Foundation to support community education programs and outreach on teen safe driving.

Libby Hollahan
Foundation Executive Director

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Teens, join our Local Area Network (LAN) party in The Edge Media Lab on Thursday, April 2 from 4:00-5:00 p.m., where we will enter an online server and play in a virtual environment. There are many free-to-play games out there that anyone can enjoy. Creation of a free account may be required.

No registration is necessary and equipment is provided.


Austin Olney
Media Specialist

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Did you know you can get thousands of movies, television shows, music albums and audiobooks for mobile and online access through a partnership with hoopla digital? White Plains Library card holders can download the free hoopla digital mobile app on their Android or iOS device or visit hoopladigital.com to begin enjoying thousands of titles – from major Hollywood studios, record companies and publishers – available to borrow for instant streaming or temporary downloading to their smartphones, tablets and computers.

hoopla digital has a simple sign-up and attractive, easy-to-use interface, so it’s easy to get to your listening and viewing experience. There’s also no waiting to borrow popular movies, TV shows, albums or audiobooks. And hoopla digital’s automatic return feature eliminates late fees.


Nancy Kunz
Adult Services Librarian

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