At White Plains Public Library, we believe in sharing historical authority with the community. So last Saturday, we created a space in which everyone was a historian. No one person has a monopoly on the past and no single narrative could possibly tell all our stories. We all have knowledge of the past, it's just a matter of sharing and using it!
Several community members brought items from their personal collections to be digitized and added to our online collection. We had a diverse group of people, from life-long White Plains residents to current and past members of government to people hanging out in the Library on a Saturday afternoon-and all of them had something to share. Some brought vintage postcards of White Plains, a few brought family photos that show what life was life in downtown White Plains before urban renewal, and others brought photographs that document urban renewal itself.
While their items were being scanned by an archivist from the Metropolitan Library Council, people swapped stories, took the White Plains History Quiz, and learned some more about the place where they live and work. While many of the homes, neighborhoods, businesses, and streets people talked about no longer exist, people who remember them still do. The next time you're walking down the street and wondering what used to be there or how what's there got there, don't despair! Someone from our community can answer that question for you, and at the Library we can connect you with that person or that information.
Keep up with local history happenings on our blog and check out People & Stories, our oral history project. We are always interested in collaborating with local people and organizations on historical projects. Contact Ben Himmelfarb at the Library for more information.