Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

New York Public Library Unveils "NYPL Digital" -- Online Collection Contains Many Images Relating To Pelham's History

Please visit the Historic Pelham Web Site

Yesterday the New York Public Library unveiled its "NYPL Digital" described as a "gateway to The New York Public Library's rare and unique collections in digitized form" where visitors can find "hundreds of thousands of prints, photographs, maps, and text pages via searchable databases". There reportedly are more than 275,000 images in the collection.

It should come as no surprise that even fairly rudimentary searches have revealed that many items in the new online collection relate to the history of Pelham, NY and surrounding areas. Indeed, the collection is merely another example of how more and more local history material is becoming freely available online on almost a monthly basis. Today's posting will discuss the NYPL Digital collection and will provide links to a few of the many items that I have found in the collection that relate to the history of Pelham.

The NYPL Digital collection is currently available from the home page of the New York Public Library Web site located at http://www.nypl.org/. The home page of the NYPL Digital collection is located at http://digitalgallery.nypl.org/. Click here or use your browser (e.g., Microsoft Internet Explorer) to go to the home page of the NYPL Digital collection.

Explore the home page carefully and you will see references to many functions that allow you to access the collection. Given its size, of course, the most important is the search feature. As always, the first step should be to review the search "Help" page by clicking on the "Help" link below the search dialogue box. (The "Help" page is located at http://digitalgallery.nypl.org/nypldigital/dghelp.cfm). You will see that you can search phrases by placing them in quotes and can use the basic Boolean search terms "and" and "or". The wild card search characters that permit you to find all variations that contain the letters you indicate are "?" and "*". The question mark looks for all variations containing a single letter. Thus, for example, the term "c?t" would find cat, cut and cot. The "*" finds all variations regardless of the number of letters. Thus, for example, the term "Pelham*" would find Pelham, Pelhamville and Pelhamwood.

Return to the NYPL Digital home page. There you will find a link to an "Advanced Search" page. It is located at http://digitalgallery.nypl.org/nypldigital/dgadvsearch.cfm. I prefer to use this page in searching the NYPL Digital collection. On that page you can search by titles, digital image numbers (once you have located images) and keywords. You can designate words that should NOT appear in the search results and you can limit your searches to particular divisions or centers of the NYPL research libraries. As an example, go to the keyword search dialogue box and type John Glover then select from the picklist next to the box "exact phrase". Click on "Go" and you will see three portraits of the man who led American troops during the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776 and a page from the May 30, 1895 issue of Leslie's Weekly with a photo of a statue of John Glover.

You are not finished! Always remember to search thoughtfully and creatively. Is it possible that other materials may exist that contain items related to John Glover but that do not use the exact phrase "John Glover"? Perhaps items that used a middle name or a middle initial? Go back to the advanced search page and try a keyword search using John Glover but, instead of selecting "exact phrase" from the picklist, select "find all words (AND)". Click on "Go".

You now will see search results that include the four items referenced above plus four additional portraits of General John Glover. (There are three unrelated items as well.)

These searches provide a classic example of why it is so important to give careful thought to your search queries and to mine the database carefully. There is much to be found. Below are links to the items relating to Pelham history that I have been able to find so far, and I am certain that there are many, many more.

General John Glover:

Portrait 1
Portrait 2
Portrait 3
Portrait 4
Portrait 5
Portrait 6
Portrait 7
Leslie's Weekly Page

Maps of the Area:

Westchester County, 1838
Westchester County, 1839
Marshal Map Showing Battle of Pelham, 1807
Sauthier Map Showing Battle of Pelham, 1777
Map of Engagement on Long Island (Shows Pelham Area), 1776
Hydrographic Map of the Counties of New York, 1846(?)
Westchester County, 1841

Miscellaneous Items:

Glover's Rock on Orchard Beach Road

Postcard View of Travers Island (Postmarked May 21, 1931)

Pell Mansion in Pelham Bay Park

St. Paul's Church Postcard View

St. Paul's Church Postcard Photograph

Hawkswood on Rodman's Neck

John McGraw, Manager of the N.Y. Giants (Pelham Manor Resident)

There likely is much, much more material relating to the history of Pelham contained in the 275,000 images that form this wonderful collection. I will continue mining the treasures and hope you will too!

Please visit the Historic Pelham Web Site
Located at


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