Next time you come across old photographs at an estate sale or garage sale, stop and take a closer look to make sure someone is not discarding valuable historical records! Thanks to Peter Kanze's visit to an estate sale in White Plains some years back, we have an incredible collection of photographs of White Plains from the 1950s through the 1970s. Kanze can't remember now where the sale was or who owned the pictures, but it is likely they are the work of someone in the insurance business who was employed to document the condition of various businesses and locations in White Plains.
Fifty or sixty years on, photographs of any era start to take on a significance they lacked when they were taken. Consider some of the photographs we take with our ubiquitous cameras these days. Sure, the selfie you took at the corner of Main and Mamaroneck is unremarkable now, but wait fifty years and it could be a document that helps someone better understand the cultural history of our time. Or, less poetically, it might help a city planner determine the type of fountain that once occupied the space that had been turned into a 50-story skyscraper.
Think of the library the next time you're not sure what to do with a box of old pictures. Anyone is invited to propose additions to the White Plains Collection, and even if you're only interested in creating digital copies of photographs and document you would rather keep, we can work with you on scanning. People in the future will be grateful for the glimpses of the quotidian past the library preserves, just as we are grateful for the collection Peter Kanze rescued from an estate sale. The collection is available to the public in digital form at the library. Contact me, Ben, for more information.