Archives for local 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: 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. 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.

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: 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: 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.