John Jay Homestead, Katonah

Photograph by Gray Williams

Collection Descriptions

Books and Pamphlets

The Historical Society has over 6000 titles of published books and pamphlets on every aspect of Westchester County, its cities, towns and villages, as well as biographical materials on Westchester people. The Richard Maass Collection on Arnold/Andre is comprised of published works on Benedict Arnold, John Andre and their plot to betray the American cause in the Revolutionary War. (A list of the titles in this special collection is available on request.)

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Genealogy Collection

The Genealogy Collection is a rich resource with over 600 published family histories, 80-plus volumes of cemetery listings (a surname index is available in the reading room), church records of approximately 30 Westchester County churches, census information, listings of marriages and deaths compiled from local newspapers, 1828-1896, and genealogy files of over 2,800 Westchester families. Also part of this collection is the unpublished typescript of noted genealogist Grenville Mackenzie titled, "The Families of the Colonial Manor of Philipsburg." This important compilation contains genealogical data of over 200 families who were tenants of Philipsburg Manor prior to the Revolution. Genealogical periodicals in the collection include the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society Record, Connecticut Ancestry, New Netherland Connections, and the American Genealogist. A periodical index is available in the reading room.

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Manuscripts

The Manuscripts Collection includes the papers of several families in Westchester, including the Mead family of Waccabuc, the Wood family of Bedford, the Brown family of Rye, the Hays family of Pleasantville (the earliest Jewish family in Westchester), and others. Additional primary source materials include diaries, account books, autograph books, church records, public records (especially Yonkers), school records and the records of organizations and associations, including the Pelham Manor Protective Club, 1881-1892; the Westchester County Temperance Society, 1829-1848; Palisades Boat Club, Yonkers, 1866-1936; and the Village Park Association, White Plains, 1898-1927.

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Maps and Atlases

The Historical Society has a large collection of maps dating from the 1700s to the present including over 50 maps relating to the Revolution. The collection also contains all of the Westchester County atlases published between1867 and 1930. In addition we have the Sanborn Fire Insurance Co. maps for Westchester County cities and villages on microfilm.

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Newspapers

The Newspaper Collection has over 140 catalogued titles of Westchester newspapers. For many of these we have only single issues, but for others there are substantial runs. The largest holdings are for the Westchester Spy (White Plains), 1830-1841; the Hudson River Chronicle (Ossining), 1839-1850; Eastern State Journal (White Plains), 1845-1916; Westchester News (White Plains), 1871-1913; Mount Kisco Recorder, 1874-1940; New Rochelle Pioneer, 1882-1919; Yonkers Daily Statesman, 1884-1900; and Williamsbridge Courier, 1893-1894.

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Periodicals

The Periodical Collection has over 150 cataloged titles relating to the history and people of Westchester County. Included among the titles held are New York History, New York Archives, the New-York Historical Society's Quarterly Bulletin, and the Magazine of American History. The Historical Society also subscribes to 30 current periodicals published by many Westchester and Bronx-based organizations. A subject index to specific articles is available in the reading room.

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Scrapbooks

Most significant in the Scrapbook Collection are the 42 volumes of newspaper clippings compiled by Alvah P. French. Alvah Purdy French (1867-1927) was a newspaperman and historian who lived in Mount Vernon, N.Y. He wrote a three-volume history of Westchester County that was published in 1925. As part of his work, he maintained a clipping service, and he compiled 42 volumes of scrapbooks filled with clippings from Mount Vernon and other Westchester newspapers. The clippings, which cover the period from about 1880 until 1920, include obituaries, marriage notices, biographical sketches and other articles about the people of Westchester. There are many marriage notices and obituaries in these volumes, as well as historical articles and ephemera. A name and subject index to the French Scrapbooks is available in the reading room as well as online.

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Picture Collection

The Historical Society has an extensive picture collection covering all of Westchester County. The collection includes photographs, prints, post cards, slides, negatives, and engravings as well as digital images. Special collections include the Sanchis Collection of Westchester architecture, the Travis Collection of early White Plains, the Drimmer Collection of Jewish history, the Gannett Collection of photos from 1975-1995 (from Gannett Suburban Newspapers), and photographs from the Social Service Archives. An index to the Picture Collection is available in the Reading Room. Visit the Photo Gallery to view some images from the Picture Collection. Photographic reproductions may be made for a fee; see statement of policy.

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