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.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Using the Web To Find Books and Materials Relating to the History of Pelham

Please visit the Historic Pelham Web site
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Even as recently as ten years ago, if a person interested in local history wanted to find books about the history of Pelham, NY (or any other locality for that matter) there were only a few things they could do: locate rare or second-hand book dealers and peruse their inventories; write or call such dealers and inquire about the availability of books on the topic; visit nearby public libraries in the hope that they maintain local history collections; or contact local historical societies and other such organizations looking for such material. The continued growth of the Web, of course, has changed all that.

Today it is not that difficult to find books, pamphlets and even one-of-a-kind ephemera by searching Web sites that aggregate descriptions of the inventories of thousands and thousands of rare and second-hand book sellers located around the world. With a little diligence, a credit card and a lot of patience, it is fairly easy to find many, many such materials relating to the history of Pelham. (See my related posting on February 24, 2005 entitled "Building a Basic Library on the History of Pelham, NY".)

During the last six years I have had the greatest success with a Web site known as "Bookfinder" located at http://www.bookfinder.com/. This Web site, founded in 1996, aggregates the sales offerings of more than 60,000 booksellers and allows searches by author, title and other such categories. A search this morning for books with the name "Pelham" in the title returns hundreds of results organized by author although -- as one would expect -- the vast majority do not relate to the history of Pelham, NY. Still, scrolling through the search results I see copies of books available for sale such as:

1. William Abbatt, The Battle of Pell's Point (Or Pelham), October 18, 1776; Being the Story of a Stubborn Fight (Privately Printed, 1901) (1 copy).

2. Lockwood Barr, Barr, Lockwood Anderson, A Brief, But Most Complete & True Account of the Settlement of the Ancient Town of Pelham Westchester County, State of New York Known One Time Well & Favourably as the Lordshipp & Manour of Pelham Also The Story of the Three Modern Villages Called The Pelhams (The Dietz Press, Inc. 1946) (2 copies).

Of course, it would be easy to stop there. But, as I always counsel, you must be creative when using search tools to mine collections such as bookfinder.com. For example, a search for the terms "Westchester County" in the title turns up many, many items including seven additional copies of Lockwood Barr's book! Among the many additional items that the "Westchester County" search reveals are:

1. Otto Hufeland, Westchester County During the American Revolution 1775 - 1783 (Privately Printed, 1926) (includes chapter on the Battle of Pelham; 7 copies).

2. Four Volume Original Edition Set of Alvah P. French's "History of Westchester County, New York" and One Modern Reprint Set of the same (contains a wealth of information about the history of Pelham).

3. Thomas J. Scharf's Multi-Volume History of Westchester County, Including Morrisania, Kings Bridge and West Farms Which Have Been Annexed to New York City (2 1886 edition sets and 2 modern reprint sets; contains a wealth of information about the history of Pelham).

4. Various volumes from the 1848 and 1881 editions of Robert Bolton's History of Westchester County (1848 Vol. 1 - 3 copies, Vol. 2 - 1 copy; 1881 - 1 copy each of Vols. 1 and 2; seminal work on Westchester County with chapters on Pelham; CDs containing electronic versions of the 1881 edition).

5. Henry B. Dawson, Westchester County During the American Revolution (1 1997 reprint of 1886 edition with discussion of the Battle of Pelham and 1 1886 edition signed by the author).

Frankly, there are too many more such items to list in this posting. However, searches need not end with "Pelham" and "Westchester County". What about Thomas Pell? Pelhamville? Pelhamwood? Travers Island? Boston Post Road? Hunters Island? City Island? Sanborn Map Company? You get the picture. Review the bibliography and other contents of the Historic Pelham Web site for ideas to help you search for additional books and materials that may be of interest to you.

Moreover, don't stop with bookfinder.com. Try your searches at ABEBooks.com. Try Amazon.com's Bibliofind page devoted to rare and used books as well as the advanced search area of Amazon.com (which includes used books).

Another goldmine for Pelham and Westchester County related books is the Westchester County Historical Society's "second hand books for sale" page. The WCHS deaccessions duplicate copies of materials from its collections and makes them available for sale from its Web site. Keep an eye on the page for new items related to Pelham.

These are just a few suggestions. There are many, many more such places on the Web where you can find such materials. Happy hunting!

Please visit the Historic Pelham Web site
Located at


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