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, February 23, 2006

Using the Collection Database of the Henry Luce III Center for the Study of American Culture

In November 2000, The New-York Historical Society opened The Henry Luce III Center for the Study of American Culture on the fourth floor of the Society's facility at 170 Central Park West in New York City. The collection includes nearly 40,000 objects relating to the history of New York and the United States. The Center encompasses 21,000 square feet and is available to the public.

Significantly, the Center makes its collection database available online for study. Today's Historic Pelham blog posting will provide tips on using the collection database to perform research relating to the history of Pelham, New York. This posting is another in a series of postings intended to provide guidance on using the Web to perform such research. Previous postings include:

November 4, 2005: Google Print Adds Many Public Domain Books of Use to Local Historians to its Virtual Library

September 7, 2005: Using Google Print To Further Your Local History Research

July 15, 2005: Using Cornell University Library's "New York State Historical Literature" Digital Collection

June 20, 2005: Using Cornell University Library's "Making of America" Digital Library of Primary Sources to Perform Research Regarding Pelham

March 17, 2005: Using the Westchester County Archives Web Site To Assist With Research Regarding the History of Pelham

March 16, 2005: Using the New York State and National Register of Historic Places Document Imaging Web Site To Research Pelham History

March 8, 2005: New York Public Library Unveils "NYPL Digital" -- Online Collection Contains Many Images Relating To Pelham's History

March 3, 2005: Using the Web To Find Books and Materials Relating to the History of Pelham

February 18, 2005: Finding Photographs of Pelham in the Online "American Memory Collection" of the Library of Congress

February 14, 15 and 16, 2005: Studying Antique Maps of Pelham Using Online Services That Provide High Resolution Scans - Part I, Part II and Part III

February 9, 2005: Searching The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (1841 - 1902) for Information About Pelham

February 8, 2005: Searching Historic Newspapers Online for Information About Pelham

Online access to the Collection Database of The Henry Luce III Center for the Study of American Culture is yet another online resource that can assist with research regarding Pelham's History. The home page is located at http://luceweb.nyhistory.org/luceweb/start.htm.

As with all such systems, it is a best practice to review the advanced search features before beginning your research. The advanced search feature of this site is designated "Expanded Search" and is located at http://luceweb.nyhistory.org/luceweb/search_expanded1.htm. Careful review of that page, however, reveals that the most sophisticated form of search available from the site is the search using "multiple criteria". That search page is available at http://luceweb.nyhistory.org/luceweb/search_expanded_multiple.htm

For this exercise, start on the multiple criteria search page. In the field labeled "Object Title", type Pelham and click on the "Execute Search" button at the foot of the page (or hit your "Enter" key). You should see descriptions of seven items responsive to your search, five of which relate to Pelham, New York including descriptions of sketches of Pelham scenes made in the 1930s by Vernon Howe Bailey and an engraving of Bolton Priory created by William Rickarby Miller in 1854.

Next try a simplified search on the same "search results" page by using the dialogue box at the very top of the page that contains the phrase "Enter search term. . . " In that box type Pelham and hit your "Enter" key. This time you will see more than 150 search results, many of which relate to Pelham, New York. Some of the search results include images of the objects in the Center's collection. For example, there are images of such objects as: (1) an oil portrait of Reverend Robert Bolton of Bolton Priory and Christ Church painted in 1818 by William Etty; (2) an oil portrait by the same artist depicting Mrs. Robert Bolton and Children, William and Anne, in 1818; and (3) an ancient lock and key believed to have once been used at Bolton Priory.

Remember, as always, that you should be creative when searching such collections. Think of search terms that may reveal items relating to the history of the area even though the item descriptions do not contain the word "Pelham".

It is also possible to browse the collections by categories. The entire collection of approximately 40,000 items is organized into 53 categories. Objects within each category can be browsed at this location: http://luceweb.nyhistory.org/luceweb/category_browse_list.htm.

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Located at http://www.historicpelham.com/.
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