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 17, 2005

Using the Westchester County Archives Web Site To Assist With Research Regarding the History of Pelham

The Westchester County Archives and Records Center is located at 2199 Saw Mill River Road, Elmsford, NY, 10523. It is the central repository for the county's historic public records dating from 1680 to the present. It is open to the public on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (except holidays). Also located in the same facility is the Westchester County Historical Society with its wonderful archives and research library.

Today's posting will address ways that local historians can use the Web site of the Westchester County Archives to assist them with local history research. The Web site is located at http://www.westchestergov.com/wcarchives/. The site makes quite clear that online resources are somewhat limited. It says "[a]lthough it is neither practical nor possible to digitize and make available online all of the records held by the Westchester County Archives, we do strive to make certain of our records, and/or information about them, available to our patrons via the 'information highway'."

On the home page of the site you will notice along the left side of the page a series of links including "General Information", "Guide To Collections", "Online Resources", "Exhibits", "Teachers' Resources", "Visit the Virtual Archives", "Frequently Asked Questions", "Site Map", "Search Our Site" and "Contact Us". For present purposes, two of the links are particularly important: "Online Resources" and "Visit the Virtual Archives".

Click on the Online Resources link first. There you will see links to the Archives' "Online Indexes", "Online Documents", "Guide to the Collections", "Resources for Genealogists", "County Government Desk Reference" and "Virtual Archives". You should explore each of these links carefully.

To illustrate the utility of the Web site, I will use the "Online Indexes" area as an example of how to do research on Pelham. If you click on that link, you will see a page that -- if you scroll down quite a bit -- you will see all sorts of online indices to material that might include references to Pelham and/or present or former residents of Pelham. Near the bottom of the page is a link entitled "School Reports, 1828-1968 (gaps)". If you click on that link you will see on the left side of the resulting screen a series of alphabetized choices including choices from "North Castle" to "Rye". By clicking on that link, you will see a page containing an index of school reports available from the Archives. Scroll down to that portion of the index relating to Pelham. It includes references to Pelham School Report records from 1828 through 1961. You will also note at the top of the same page that you can order a copy of any such records by following the instructions available via a link. I have ordered school records from the late 1820s and early 1830s and received them quite promptly by mail.

There are a host of helpful indices available in this area of the Web site. Quite a number of them include important references to records relating to Pelham's early history.

Before leaving the site, please be sure to click on the link to the "Virtual Archives". You will be taken to a Web site located at: http://westchesterarchives.com/home.html. The site is an eye-catching and wonderfully informative collection of data and images relating to the topics treated on the site. So far, only two topics are addressed: "The Civil War Era in Westchester" and the "Bronx River Parkway Reservation HAER". More material is in the works and it won't be long before the material is added to the site.

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