Archives for local 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 and Homepage.

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: 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: Black History Month

It’s February, a month recognized as Black History Month across America. Sometimes also called African American History Month, wide-scale public recognition of the history of Black Americans began in 1915 when Dr. Carter G. Woodson founded the Association for the Study of African-American Life and History. In 1926, Negro History Week was established through the ASALH. The commemoration was updated in 1975 and given its current form by an act of Congress and a Presidential Proclamation in 1986. A full history of the public commemoration can be found here. In 2016, the National Museum of African American History and Culture
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Categories: History.

Local History: Richard Crandell Collection

We regularly receive donations to the White Plains Collection, but there are just a handful of people who made large donations of materials or funds. John Rosch and Renoda Hoffman, both official city historians, donated or created some of the most important items in our collection. Richard Crandell, while never officially the city historian, also had a huge impact on the promotion and dissemination of local history and added some vital pieces to the WPC.   In 1954, Crandell published This Is Westchester: A Study of Suburban Living, a book that illuminates some of Westchester’s history. Mostly, however, the book
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Categories: History.

Local History: Bronx River Parkway

If you ever walk along the Bronx River Parkway and want to supplement your experience with some local history, check out the White Plains Collection. Below are some examples of materials that illuminate more than just the history of the parkway. We have documents about the building of the parkway and the economic impact of the parkway. One could also trace the history of “green spaces” in American planning or how publicly funded projects supported the growth of the suburbs.                                        
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Categories: History.

The Art of Local History: Collage Night

Our first local history collage night was a success! Children’s Librarian Raquel Cavalcanti and I teamed up for a night of stories, crafting, and history. When we found extra local history books published by the White Plains Historical Society had damaged bindings, we asked if we could put them to use as collage materials. The Historical Society agreed, and a program was born! Examples of the boxes our crafters made are below.    
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Categories: History.

People & Stories Oral History Project: Jazz Fest 2016 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 2016! Below is a third set of clips from the People & Stories Oral History Project. Each of the clips below includes 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 2016 webpage for tickets and more information about all the great music happening September 20-25, 2016 in White Plains. Here’s a link to our
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Categories: History and Oral History.

People & Stories Oral History Project: Jazz Fest 2016 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 2016! Below is a second set of clips from the People & Stories Oral History Project. Each of the clips below includes 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 2016 webpage for tickets and more information about all the great music happening September 20-25, 2016 in White Plains. Here’s a link to our
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Categories: History and Oral History.

People & Stories Oral History Project: Jazz Fest 2016 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 2016! Below is a special set of clips from the People & Stories Oral History Project. Each of the clips below includes 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 2016 webpage for tickets and more information about all the great music happening September 20-25, 2016 in White Plains. Bob Baldwin (keyboardist, composer, producer,
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Categories: History and Oral History.

People & Stories Oral History Project: Kenny Lee

We are grateful to start our collaboration with White Plains Jazz Fest and ArtsWestchester on a good note–with an oral history by Kenny Lee, whose life and music are important parts of White Plains history. Lee is known to different people for different things. Some know him as a trumpet player and band leader of the Kenny Lee All Stars. Others know him as a detective with the White Plains Police Department. Lee was born in White Plains and, taking after his father, started playing trumpet at an early age. He played in the White Plains Schools in the jazz
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Categories: History and Oral History.

People & Stories Oral History Project: YWCA GEMS

People & Stories was thrilled when Rhonda Brooks and Candi Poinsette, of the YWCA, reached out to collaborate on an oral history project about the history of the GEMS. GEMS stands for “Girls Empowered Through Meaningful Support” and has existed in one form or another for over 40 years in White Plains. GEMS strives to assist girls in the White Plains community in becoming self-reliant, competent, caring and healthy. It does so by providing relevant engaging activities in the areas of cultural awareness, health and wellness, college and careers, and self-esteem. Current members of GEMS met with alumni to learn
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Categories: History and Oral History.

People & Stories Oral History Project: Lord Judah & JCA

This is the first time People & Stories is presenting a produced oral history, and it’s for a good reason. Lord Judah is the artist behind H.I.P.H.O.P., which stands for Highly Intelligent People Healing Our Planet. H.I.P.H.O.P. is many things. It’s a philosophy for engaging with social issues, a mobile-teaching unit, and an artistic collective. H.I.P.H.O.P. is combining music with a social justice mission through teaching workshops with young people and support for local artists. Lord Judah and JCA mix their personal stories about coming up in White Plains with insights about how to find a place as an artist
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Categories: History and Oral History.

People & Stories Oral History Project: Renee Cohen

Renee Cohen has things to say about White Plains. If you’ve read any of the newspapers or voted in any elections since the mid-1970s, chances are you’ve encountered Renee. In this oral history she describes coming to White Plains in 1967, her choice to live an environmentally-conscious life, and the many civic projects she’s been a part of. Asked what she would like to see more of in the city, she said, “I just like a mix.” Her perspective as a frequent, long-time pedestrian in the city is insightful–if you usually drive through White Plains, Renee will make you think
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Categories: History and Oral History.

People & Stories Oral History Project: The Mosleys

Brandon Mosley took the question posed by television show “Who Do You Think You Are?” seriously and set out to discover how he came to be in White Plains. His mother told him stories about his great-aunt’s successful cosmetic company in Harlem, his grandfather’s influential role in White Plains public schools, and his great-grandfather’s life as a preacher in North Carolina–and he discovered many more. He wrote a history of his mother’s (Marcia’s) side of the family in The Tree That Shades Me, which he self-published. In their oral history, Brandon talks about the process of discovering his family’s history
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Categories: History and Oral History.

Curiosity Cabinet: Postcards

Ever wondered what the high school on Main Street looked like? What about a greeting card from Nepal? Swing by the exhibit case on our second floor and see a small sample of Marjory S.’s postcard collection in our Curiosity Cabinet. Marjory is a lifelong resident of White Plains and have over 1,000 postcards in her collection. Many were sent to her from all over the world by friends, family, and (especially) colleagues from work. She also brought in some vintage White Plains cards to share, which we have supplemented with vintage postcards from the White Plains Collection.    
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Categories: History.

Street Maps and Family Pictures

The local history community in White Plains has been busy over the past few months! We are proud to share the Streets of White Plains, an interactive map created by Cliff Blau that explains the history of many street names in our city. Cliff thoroughly plumbed the White Plains Collection at the Library, then doggedly followed leads to the County Clerk’s Office and beyond. View the map on our Atlases and Maps page and use the share button to show it to friends or family! Back in December, we had a Community History Day where we scanned photographs, documents, or
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Categories: History.

People & Stories Goes National!

Kevin Tidmarsh and Saahil Desai, students at Pomona College in California, investigate the stories of early students of color at their school in the first episode of Hidden Pomona, “Stranger In A Strange Land.” Drawing on Leola Bryant’s oral history in our People & Stories Collection, Tidmarsh and Desai chronicle the impact White Plains native and Pomona alumnus Eileen Johnson had on the lives of African-Americans.
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Categories: History and Oral History.

People & Stories Oral History Project: Dennis Polanco

Probably known to most White Plains residents as “Mr. Polanco,” since that is what students in his English classes at White Plains High School call him, Dennis Polanco is in fact much more than a teacher. He is a father, musician, and community leader who has great insights into our city.
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Categories: History and Oral History.

History, Art, & Community

People have been using our White Plains Collection and local history programs to create some great projects lately! Students from a Community Design class at Purchase College taught by Warren Lehrer partnered with the White Plains Business Improvement District and the Library to create designs for poems written by Judith Sloan. Art In Vacant Spaces can be seen filling the windows of storefronts along Court Street, Martine Avenue, Main Street, and Mamaroneck Avenue. Inspiration for the poems was drawn in part from historic photographs in the White Plains Collections (check some out online!) and oral histories from People & Stories.
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Categories: History.