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, May 16, 2006

Using Excelsior To Search the Collections of the New York State Archives, New York State Library and the New York State Museum

Periodically I try to include postings on the Historic Pelham Blog intended to help readers use online resources to further their research about Pelham and surrounding areas. (Typically such resources can be used for genealogical work as well.) Today's Historic Pelham Blog posting will describe the use of an excellent online resource named "Excelsior" that allows users to search catalogues of archival collections maintained by the New York State Archives, the New York State Library and the New York State Museum.

Excelsior may be accessed at the following Web address: http://nysl.nysed.gov/. Users may wish to begin by selecting the "Search Entire Catalog" button. To try the system, click on that button. You will see two search dialog boxes. The first allows you to select whether to search by Keyword, to browse or to search by exact phrase. Select "Keyword" for now.

The second search dialog allows you to choose a "library" from the picklist. Place your cursor on the small blue button with the downward pointing carrot (i.e., arrow) and click to see a list of the libraries you may search. For now, make sure you click on -- and, thus, select -- "ALL".

In the "Keyword" search dialog box, type the word Pelham. Click "SEARCH EVERYTHING" immediately beneath that dialog box. You will see entries for 432 records.

The first record is quite intriguing. It is a reference to a copy of a newspaper published on City Island in 1894 when City Island was still part of the Town of Pelham. The paper was called "City Island Drift". Click on the small blue oval button entitled "VIEW" beneath #1 to see a more complete reference to the item. It notes that the newspaper described itself as "A weekly publication devoted to the interests of the Town of Pelham and City Island".

Scroll through the results. As you scroll to the bottom of each screen you will need to click on the blue oval "FORWARD" button to move to the next screen of search results. If you need to go back to an earlier screen, do NOT use your browser's back button. Instead, click on the blue oval "BACKWARD" button at the bottom (and at the top) of each screen.

As you scroll through the results you will see dozens of surprising and interesting items related to the history of Pelham, each available from the archive identified in the full bibliographic reference accessed when you click on the blue oval "VIEW" button next to the pertinent search result.

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