Archives for History

Local History: Addicts & Addiction Pt. 3

As earlier blog posts showed, public discourse about drugs and addiction changed from focusing on morality and personal responsibility during the 19th century to a focus on culture and racial identity during the early 20th century.  When drugs and addiction are discussed today, we often hear that criminal justice reform and electoral politics are the central issues influencing the course of addiction and the treatment of addicts in our society. The White Plains Collection has many resources you can use to discover what happened during the 1960s as the modern era of “drug culture” developed and what people were thinking
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Categories: History and Homepage.

Local History: Addicts & Addiction Pt. 2

Most people are by now familiar with the “Reefer Madness” era of drug policy in the United States. Exemplified by the 1936 propaganda film of the same name and personified by Henry J. Anslinger (who set the tone for most domestic drug policy during his 32 years as head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics), the “Reefer Madness” era is best known for its racism and over-the-top representations of drug users and addicts. The articles below show that “Reefer Madness” came to White Plains!   Reefer Madness According to the paper, over 100 people were questioned or arrested during raids
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Categories: History.

Local History: Addicts & Addiction Pt. 1

The past few years, drugs and addiction have been in the headlines. Stories about opiates, the legalization of marijuana, and criminal justice reform have all made drug use and addiction the subject of a national conversation. Just as the civil rights and women’s rights movements had historical roots in time periods when those issues were not the focus of public debate, American society has been dealing with addicts and addiction since the 18th century. Here’s a look at some resources in the White Plains Collection that you can consult to see how people used to think about these issues. You
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Categories: History.

Local History: Rosa Kittrell

October 10 has been designated World Mental Health Day by the World Health Organization. In honor of it, here is a story about a White Plains resident whose activism on behalf of people with mental illness had a national impact. Rosa Kittrell worked hard to redefine the way we view and treat the most vulnerable members of society. Through her tireless activism, personal struggles with mental illness, and belief in the power of education, Kittrell developed a motto: “Others, Lord, others.” Like so many black women in America, Kittrell was intersectional in her activism before anyone ever heard of that
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Categories: History.

People & Stories Oral History Project: Jazz Fest 2017 Pt. 5

We are thrilled to continue our partnership with ArtsWestchester, The City of White Plains, and the White Plains Business Improvement District on White Plains Jazz Fest 2017! Below is a clip from the People & Stories Oral History Project, Jazz Fest edition. Each of the clips we post between now and September will include stories and music from musicians who live locally, but have performed all over the world. Tom Van Buren, of ArtsWestchester, co-produced the interviews. Check out the Jazz Fest 2017 webpage for tickets and more information about all the great music happening September 13-17, 2017. Daniel Freiberg
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Categories: Oral History.

People & Stories Oral History Project: Jazz Fest 2017 Pt. 4

We are thrilled to continue our partnership with ArtsWestchester, The City of White Plains, and the White Plains Business Improvement District on White Plains Jazz Fest 2017! Below is a clip from the People & Stories Oral History Project, Jazz Fest edition. Each of the clips we post between now and September will include stories and music from musicians who live locally, but have performed all over the world. Tom Van Buren, of ArtsWestchester, co-produced the interviews. Check out the Jazz Fest 2017 webpage for tickets and more information about all the great music happening September 13-17, 2017.   Pete
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Categories: Oral History.

People & Stories Oral History Project: Jazz Fest 2017 Pt. 3

We are thrilled to continue our partnership with ArtsWestchester, The City of White Plains, and the White Plains Business Improvement District on White Plains Jazz Fest 2017! Below is a clip from the People & Stories Oral History Project, Jazz Fest edition. Each of the clips we post between now and September will include stories and music from musicians who live locally, but have performed all over the world. Tom Van Buren, of ArtsWestchester, co-produced the interviews. Check out the Jazz Fest 2017 webpage for tickets and more information about all the great music happening September 13-17, 2017.   Ray
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Categories: Oral History.

People & Stories Oral History Project: Jazz Fest 2017 Pt. 2

We are thrilled to continue our partnership with ArtsWestchester, The City of White Plains, and the White Plains Business Improvement District on White Plains Jazz Fest 2017! Below is a clip from the People & Stories Oral History Project, Jazz Fest edition. Each of the clips we post between now and September will include stories and music from musicians who live locally, but have performed all over the world. Tom Van Buren, of ArtsWestchester, co-produced the interviews. Check out the Jazz Fest 2017 webpage for tickets and more information about all the great music happening September 13-17, 2017.    
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Categories: Oral History.

People & Stories Oral History Project: Jazz Fest 2017 Pt. 1

We are thrilled to continue our partnership with ArtsWestchester, The City of White Plains, and the White Plains Business Improvement District on White Plains Jazz Fest 2017! Below is a clip from the People & Stories Oral History Project, Jazz Fest edition. Each of the clips we post between now and September will include stories and music from musicians who live locally, but have performed all over the world. Tom Van Buren, of ArtsWestchester, co-produced the interviews. Check out the Jazz Fest 2017 webpage for tickets and more information about all the great music happening September 13-17, 2017.    
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Categories: History and Oral History.

Local History: School’s Out, Pt. 2

The late 1960s was a time of increasing consciousness about racial issues in the United States. The mainstream civil rights movement won victories in 1964 and 1965 with large pieces of Federal legislation like the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. By 1968, however, because of issues like Vietnam, economic injustice, the conditions of urban life, and the nature of black identity some people questioned how much progress had really been made. The civil rights movement itself was fractured. Some advocated equality and integration within the framework of American society. Others, generally younger activists, promoted black power or
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Categories: History.

Local History: School’s Out, Pt. 1

The late 1960s was a time of increasing consciousness about racial issues in the United States. The mainstream civil rights movement won victories in 1964 and 1965 with large pieces of Federal legislation like the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. By 1968, however, because of issues like Vietnam, economic injustice, the conditions of urban life, and the nature of black identity some people questioned how much progress had really been made. The civil rights movement itself was fractured. Some advocated equality and integration within the framework of American society. Others, generally younger activists, promoted black power or
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Categories: History.

Local History: Bakers & Barbers

Two significant strikes affected daily life in White Plains during the 1950s. In July 1951, “a possible but not acute shortage of bread supplies” was predicted by the Reporter DIspatch due to the strike of thousands of AFL International Brotherhood of Teamsters truck drivers against 16 large companies. Those companies produced 80% of the pre-wrapped bread loaves in the New York metropolitan area. The shortage that developed over the course of the nine-day strike caused one reporter in White Plains to be reminded of “scenes of wartime shortages.” The strike began because the companies refused the union’s demand for a
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Categories: History.

Local History: The Hudson River

The Hudson River shapes nearly every area of our lives in some way: from topography, patterns of human settlement, and military decisions to energy production, human health, commerce, and culture. This summer, impress your fellow travelers with some knowledge about the Hudson Valley and the Hudson River gained from the White Plains Collection. Below is a bibliography of historical and contemporary titles from many different genres and eras.   Histories: Narrative, Revolutionary, and Social The Hudson from the Wilderness to the Sea by Benson J. Lossing (1866): A wonderful, illustration-rich vintage title donated by former White Plains librarian Clara F.
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Categories: History.

Local History: Murals

As the renovations continue and you rediscover the main floor of our library, we hope you look up–you’ll see three unique murals. Hung high over the east wing (sit back in one of our new lounge chairs!) are murals by two artists who called White Plains home: Edmund F. Ward and Stanley P. Klimley. That’s Klimley on the left standing in front of his mural when it was still in the lobby of the White Plains Hotel (image courtesy of the Westchester County Historical Society). Check out information on the artists and their works below!   White Plains resident and
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Categories: History.

New York Historical Society Museum Passes Now Available

The White Plains Public Library is pleased to announce the addition of the New-York Historical Society Museum at 170 Central Park West to the Museum Pass Program.  The Library pass provides free admission for two adults and all accompanied children under eighteen years of age. The New-York Historical Society’s museum is the oldest in New York City and predates the founding of the Metropolitan Museum of Art by nearly seventy years. Its art holdings comprise more than 1.6 million works. Among them are a world-class collection of Hudson River School paintings, including major works by Thomas Cole and Frederic Edwin
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Categories: Featured, History, Homepage, and Library News.

Local History: WWII & the OPA

On April 11, 1941, FDR signed an executive order creating the Office of Price Administration.The Reporter Dispatch wrote that the purpose of the OPA was the “protection of the consumer” and to make supplies available to the public “after military needs are met.” Many goods were rationed during World War II, including sugar, meat, coffee, building materials, and gasoline. The OPA issued ration books to individuals a number of times during the war. Below are two examples of ration coupons for heating oil that were donated to the White Plains Collection by Library Trustee Paul Schwarz. They show the address
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Categories: History.

Local History: Remembering Jack Harrington

Local history legend Jack Harrington passed away on Sunday, May 14, at age 97. As a tireless advocate of preservation and conservation (historical and environmental), Harrington knew more about White Plains than just about anybody. To learn more about his life and legacy, check out his oral histories on our website or contact the White Plains Historical Society.
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Categories: History.

Local History: WPA in White Plains

On April 8, 1935, President Roosevelt signed a law creating the Works Progress Administration, or WPA. The WPA was created to create employment opportunities for millions of unemployed Americans and material benefit to communities throughout the country. White Plains and Westchester were no exception, with significant public works projects and make-work efforts, where jobs in local agencies were supported by federal funds. The White Plains Collection contains some examples of the works created through the WPA and a few records that describe projects the federal government supported in Westchester County. In 1939, the National Muncipal League’s Consultant Service completed field
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Categories: History.

Local History: Almanacks & Almanacs

Almanacs (sometimes spelled with a “k”) are an American institution. Benjamin Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanack and The Farmer’s Almanac are the best-known examples, but thousands of other more particular, peculiar, and provincial almanacs have been published since the genre was established in the 17th century (the Library of Congress’ American Almanac Collection contains 3,986 unique titles). To view some almanacs online, view the results of this basic search on the Digital Public Library of America’s site, which produced over 2,000 results. Viewing the results in the timeline view shows the majority of items come from the 19th century, which comports with
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Categories: History.

Local History: “Mundane Recording Angel”

In the pages of his monthly magazine, The Westchester County Magazine, editor Alvah P. French described himself as a “mundane recording angel.” His magazine was “an historical, commercial, and social publication” whose diverse contents seem to be a reflection of French’s many interests. Each issue’s contents was a disarray of editorials on local politics, legal notices, obituaries for people either famous or not known outside of Westchester, Emily Post-style admonitions about social conduct, local history vignettes, classifieds, advertisements for local businesses, and unattributed pronouncements (usually philosophical in nature) seemingly written by French. We have a nearly complete set of issues
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Categories: History.