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.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Early Efforts to Create a Public Library for the Town of Pelham

On Wednesday, Maggie Klein's PelhamPlus.com published a wonderful and fascinating article by Catharine P. Taylor on the history of today's Town of Pelham Public Library building and how it came to house the town's library.  See Taylor, Catharine P., BOOKMARK:  The Town of Pelham Library Turns 20, Here's How It Started, PelhamPlus.com (Sep. 9, 2015) (paid subscription required).  The article details Herculean efforts by Pelham residents during the mid-1980s and early 1990s to raise the funds necessary to buy the building and to fund the ongoing operations of an expanded public library.  As a result of those Herculean efforts, the library opened its doors to the public on September 16, 1995.  

Next Wednesday (September 16), the Pelham Public Library will celebrate its 20th anniversary in its current facility.  Few in Pelham know, however, that the Pelham Public Library reached its one hundredth anniversary earlier this year on June 15, 2015.  Yes, the Town of Pelham has been a state-chartered public library for one hundred years.

The Herculean efforts of Pelham residents during the 1980s and 1990s to develop a sustainable public library building for the Town of Pelham seem all the more impressive today because similar efforts including a bond referendum in 1924 and town-wide efforts in the 1930s to develop a public library building failed.  Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog sets forth some of the early history of the Pelham Public Library, details early failed efforts to find or build a dedicated public library building and provides the text of newspaper articles reporting on the those efforts.

In the early 20th century, a corner on the first floor of the Town Hall of the Town of Pelham served as a tiny lending library for the entire Town of Pelham.  The space was entirely inadequate.  Indeed, the library corner was little used and languished in relative obscurity for a number of years.  

In about 1915, an initiative to create a public library for the Town of Pelham took root in the Village of North Pelham.  On June 25, 1915, the State of New York granted a state charter for operation of the Pelham Public Library.  In August of that year, Pelham's first librarian, Mary A. Dickenson, began her work in library space made available in the Hutchinson Elementary School.  Ms. Dickenson continued to serve as the librarian for nearly thirty-five years until her death in 1949.    

Mary A. Dickenson, Pelham's First Librarian.
Widely Diversified Fields, The Pelham Sun, Aug. 9,
1940, Vol. 30, No. 19, p. 5, cols. 3-5
NOTE:  Click Image to Enlarge.

In 1924, the Pelham Public Library was temporarily moved to Town Hall on Fifth Avenue while alterations were being made to the Hutchinson School building.  The library remained in Town Hall until 1926 when it returned to a two-room space in the basement of Hutchinson School.  

When the library was first moved temporarily to Town Hall in 1924, townspeople began "agitating"" for a more permanent space for the Town Library.  In 1924, the Town Board authorized a special referendum to consider a $61,000 bond issue to fund the construction of a public library building on Town land adjacent to and just south of the Town Hall.  The proposal was controversial and engendered a battle among townspeople who supported the use of public funds to construct a library and those who opposed saddling the Town and its taxpayers with debt to fund the building.  The referendum carried by two votes, 147 to 145.  However, a Pelham Manor Justice of the Peace declared the referendum illegal based on several alleged technicalities (see article below).  At the recommendation of the Justice of the Peace, the Town Board refused to ratify the vote.  Thus, there was no bond issuance.  Nothing came of the initiative and, in 1926, the library collections were removed from Town Hall and returned to the Hutchinson School.  

Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, Pelham residents continued to use the public library in the basement of the Hutchinson Elementary School in North Pelham.  Residents of the Village of North Pelham could access the library for free.  Residents of the Villages of Pelham (today's Pelham Heights) and Pelham Manor could access the library for the modest fee of one dollar per year.  According to one published report, however, many residents of the Town of Pelham did "not know that a library exists in Hutchinson School or that its facilities are available to any resident in the Town of Pelham."  That may have been true, but it clearly was the case that many town residents did  know of the public library in the Hutchinson School.  By 1938 the library had 2,600 active registered subscribers.  The average number of books borrowed from the library every day during the month of June 1938 was 125.  The librarian in charge, Mary A. Dickenson, was a very busy worker.

Though the public library maintained in the Hutchinson School was an admirable and welcomed effort, many town residents requiring library services nevertheless paid to join the library facilities maintained by the City of New Rochelle.  Indeed, by the late 1930s, more than four hundred Pelham residents paid annually for such library services from New Rochelle.  (A small number paid and registered for such services from the City of Mount Vernon library facilities.)  

During the 1930s, Mayor Dominic Amato of the Village of North Pelham cited the need for a "better library for the Town of Pelham" and began to push leaders of the Town to take over the efforts of the Village of North Pelham and develop a dedicated public library building for the Town.  Mayor Edmund C. Gause of the Village of Pelham Manor joined the initiative and went on record as "being in favor of establishing a worthwhile library for the town."  The local Superintendent of Schools, Joseph Clifton Brown, jumped into the fray and joined with the Village Mayors in support of the initiative.

In 1938, Town Supervisor Harold W. Davis asked for a study of the need for such a library.  The results were compelling.  They showed not only that the little library in the Hutchinson School was heavily used by Pelham residents, but also that there were 424 Pelham residents who paid the New Rochelle Public Library for the privilege of accessing its collections.  

On July 15 and, again, on July 22, 1938, the editorial board of The Pelham Sun published editorials that shook up Pelham.  The July 15 editorial argued that it was time to provide Pelham "with a library building suitable to its standing as a community."  The July 22 editorial asserted that "[i]t should not be difficult to obtain Federal aid for the erection of a building fully equipped" to serve as a Town Library.  The same editorial asked all town residents interested in "the provision of a new library building" to contact The Pelham Sun.  Prophetically, the editorial indicated that the best location for such a library building would the "[t]he geographical center of the Town of Pelham [which] is in the neighborhood of Colonial avenue and Wolf's Lane" -- precisely where the Town Library stands today.

Alas, no federal funds were forthcoming.  With the advent of World War II, the iniative to provide the Pelham Public Library with its own building withered on the vine.  In the meantime, Mary A. Dickenson continued as librarian of the Pelham Public Library located in the basement of the Hutchinson School.  Indeed, she continued in that position until her death in December 1949 after nearly 35 years of service as Pelham's librarian.  The Library Board of Trustees appointed Miss Irene Barker as temporary librarian to succeed Mrs. Dickenson.  In 1950, the Board of Trustees changed Miss Barker's status from acting librarian to librarian -- Pelham's second librarian.  

The Pelham Public Library continued in the basement of the Hutchinson School until a group of civic-minded Pelhamites in the 1980s and 1990s worked to raise the funds necessary and bought the sanctuary building of the First Church of Christ, Scientist at the corner of Wolfs Lane and Colonial Avenue.   As Catharine P. Taylor notes in her article BOOKMARK:  The Town of Pelham Library Turns 20, Here's How It StartedPelhamPlus.com (Sep. 9, 2015) (paid subscription required):

"The Town of Pelham Library was officially opened and dedicated on September 16, 1995. It’s fitting that on moving day, people from throughout town were involved, just as they had been with fundraising.  A line of residents passed the Library’s charter down the middle of the streets from Hutchinson School to the new library."

Indeed, there is a framed embroidery created by Vivian Swift that hangs in the adult stacks of today's Pelham Library and depicts that moment in time when Pelhamites passed the library's charter from hand-to-hand as they stood in the streets, passing it from the library that had operated at the Hutchinson School for 80 years to the new public library building that will, later this week, celebrate its own 20th birthday.

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"Something On Your Mind?  The Answer May Be Found At The Public Library
The Books on the Shelves of the Public Library Answer Countless Queries For Readers and Offer Travel Experiences for 'Stay-At-Homes.'

Do you want to know the name of that little yellow wild flower you saw growing in a lot the other day?  or what kind of glass that little pitcher is that Grandma Jones has cherished for the past fifty years; or what kind of a place Hawaii really is or something about Brahms music; or what is happening in Asia or in the Third Reich or something about our own Congress or some advice about how to get a job?  The answers to a lot of these questions lie only a stone's throw away from your door -- in the books available at Pelham Public Library.

The library, a cool and quiet spot in the Hutchinson School building on Fourth street in North Pelham, is a pleasant refuge these summer days not only for these souls athirst for knowledge, but for those whose soles may be merely hot and tired from beating on the indifferent sun-baked pavement.

While the social columns give the impression that about half the town is away on vacation or about to go, this is not actually the case, plenty of Pelham's citizens have not joined the vacation exodus and a good number of those remaining may do a lot worse than take their way to the library where the pleasant and helpful library, Mrs. Mary A. Dickenson dispenses books for young and old, summer time or no.

Mrs. Dickenson reports a definite trend among her readers toward non-fiction which may be interpreted perhaps as the sign of a rising I.Q. in the community, maybe not.  The number of women readers has increased steadily among the 2600 active subscribers in the library.  The average number of books borrowed every day last month was 125 -- not a bad record for a library of this size.  The summer days ahead looks like busy one's [sic] according to Mrs. Dickenson's reckoning, so no doubt many of Pelham's citizens are making good use of their summer leisure.  

A cursory glance around at some of the books new and not so new on the library tables showed a Pelham Sun reporter a fascinating array, varied as life itself and provocatively interesting.  If you can't actually travel and you yearn to do so, it is well to remember that lots of people have gone to all the places you wish to visit and many of them, experiencced, wise and witty people have left written records that will prove worthwhile substitutes for an actual trip.

"Panamexico" for example by Carveth Wells gives the experiences of a celebrated traveller in Mexico and the Panama Canal Zone; 'The Story of Odysseus' translated by W. H. D. House will take the reader along the paths of one of the earliest of all journey-makers; 'The Pacific' by Stanley Rogers gives the fascinating story of an ocean and 'Map Makers' by Joseph Cottler and Haym Jaffe is generously besprinkled with such names as Marco Polo, Christopher Columbus, Magellan, Hudson, James Cook and later map-makers down to our time.

'Hawaii, Isles of Enchantment' by Clifford Gessler, a beautifully illustrated volume will enable the reader to join the stream of 20,000 tourists who annually visit the Pacific islands so rich in beauty.  

For the music lover is a fat tome, 'The Chamber Music of Brahms' by Daniel Gregory Mason.  For those interested in history and their number seems steadily on the upgrade there is 'Tom Paine, Friend of Mankind' by Hesketh Pearson; 'The Far East Comes Nearer' by Hessell Tiltman, the story of 'Asia's New Deal;' 'The Third Reich' by Henri Lichenberger which Nicholas Murray Butler in the foreword describes as 'an objective and dispassionate review of what has happened in Germany since the Armistice;' 'The Story of Congress' by Ernest Sutherland Bates presents the history of the legislative branch of our own government fro 1789 to 1935.

Does the recent graduate want to know something about getting a job and keeping one?  'Fields of Work for Women' by Miriam Simons Leuck, M. A. and 'Men Must Work' by Loire Brophy seems like a good suggestion and practical volumes.  The housewife could certainly get some good ideas from 'The Pennsylvania Dutch and their Cookery' by J. George Frederick.  The glass collector should find many hours of quiet enjoyment with '5000 Years of Glass' by Frances Rogers and Alice Beard, and book collectors similar enjoyment from 'The Delightful Diversion' by Reginald Brewer presenting the ways and wherefores of book collecting.

Biography and Essay offers an endless and fascinating field in which to name but a few, 'Eight Decades' by Agnes Repplier and 'Gladly Teach' by Bliss Perry may be found right at hand.  'The Good Society' by Walter Lippman offers some solid reading and 'The Shopping Guide' edited by E. B. Weiss in collaboration with Maurice Mermey will help the reader to intelligent buying.  If one's thoughts turn to the garden 'Modern Guide to Successful Gardening' by M. G. Krains should be a help among the hoes and rakes.  Take a slim little book, really nothing but pictures 'Some Familiar Wild Flowers' by James Edmund Jones and go the Girls Scouts one better and become a first class 'flower finder' on some summer morning's walk.

'Mathematics for the Millions' by Lancelot Hoghen provocatively titled, has won many readers in the non-fiction class.  'The Catholic Spirit in America' by George N. Shuster, associate editor of 'The Commonweal' should prove of interest to students of contemporary history in this country.

The library is open from 9:30 a.m. to noon and from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. ever day except, Saturday, Sundays and holidays.  Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings the hours are from 7 to 9.

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New Books Added To The Shelves

The following new books have recently been added to the library shelves, according to a statement from Mrs. Dickenson.


Some for the Glory, Zara; For Today Only, Runbeck; Action at Aquila, Allen; Light of Other Days, Corbett; East of Broadway, Cohen; Hawk in the Wind, Miller; Dawn in Lyonnesse, Chase; Chan Osborne's Wife, Hauck; The Brothers, Wells; Gunsmoke, Colt; The Gun Fighter, Bennet; The Strongest Son, Stevens; Attention:  Miss Wells, Jerman; The Dark Rose, Walsh; Run, Wentworth; Ballade in G Minor.

Coyote Valley, Rodney; Curious Happenings, Oppenheim; Danger is my Trade, Craig; The Crooked Furrow, Farnol; R. F. D., Steward; Free Land, Lane; Sleep in Peace, Bentley; The Yearling, Rawlings; Murder in Waiting, Murphy; You Haven't Changed, Banning; Woman on Horseback, Barrett; Sixteen Hands, Croy; Best Short Stories 1938, O'Brien; The Nutmeg Tree, Sharp; The Mortal Storm, Bottome; Murder on Safari, Huxley; Raiders of Spanish Peaks, Grey; Towers in the Mist, Goudge; Hasty Wedding, Eberhart.


Windows on Henry Street, L. Wald; Neighborhood, Simklovitch; Labor Movement, Clark & Simon; Master Kung, C. Crow.


Nicodemus and His New Shoes, Hogan; Strong Hearts and Bold, Crownfield; Hawaiian Holiday, Barrett & Cooper; Boy Scout's Book of Outdoor Hobbies, Lets Have a Good Time, Cameron; The Bible Children, Thompson; Arctic Patrols, Campbell; The First Year, Meadowcroft; Honey Chile, Braune; Chanco, Watson; The Princess and the Apple Tree, Milne; Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Disney; The Cottage at Bantry Bay, Van Stockum; High in the Mountains, Brock."

Source:  Leary, Margaret, Something On Your Mind?  The Answer May Be Found At The Public Library -- The Books on the Shelves of the Public Library Answer Countless Queries For Readers and Offer Travel Experiences for "Stay-At-Homes," The Pelham Sun, Jul. 8, 1938, Vol. 28, No. 14, p. 3, cols. 1-3.  


There has been a lot of favorable comment on the proposal to erect with the aid of Federal funds, a public library in the Pelhams.  It is to be expected that the subject would be a greater source of conversation in North Pelham because that is where the present library in Hutchinson School has been in existence for many years; also that a large number of those who now patronize the library began to realize its [illegible].

General funds are available for the construction of a suitable building and the preliminary steps are now being taken which may lead to definite plans being made.

Mayor Amato has pointed out that a considerable proportion of those who patronize the North Pelham library come from Pelham and Pelham Manor.  There is no objection to this although the burden of upkeep is upon the shoulders of North Pelham taxpayers.  The growth of Pelham, however, has increased the number of patrons of the library, and a more central location is desirable -- one easily accessible to all.

[Illegible] there is a plan in the making to erect a separate building on town property adjoining the Town Hall or perhaps the Village of North Pelha may seek to erect its own village hall, something after the manner in which plans are being considered now in the adjoining Village of Pelham.

Our own selection of a site for a public library for the Town of Pelham would be the triangular plot bounded by Harmon avenue, the main line railroad station yard and the short street which joines [sic] the station yard to Harmon avenue.  Here would be a central location, very handy to those commuters who would wish to patronize the library after stepping off the trains and before proceeding to their homes.

There would be strenuous objections, perhaps, from those residents of Pelhamwood who wish to preserve the amenities of that territory and uphold its building restrictions and zoning laws which prohibit anything but residential property being erected within its boundaries.  Such desire to maintain residential restrictions might overcome the wish to see such a building as a public library erected there.

To bring the matter to town action Mayor Amato will appear before the Town Board to discuss ways and means.  We would suggest that a committee of prominent citizens be asked to sound out public sentiment and report on possible ways and means for providing Pelham with a library building suitable to its standing as a community."

Source:  A TOWN LIBRARY, The Pelham Sun, Jul. 15, 1938, Vol. 28, No. 15, p. 2, col. 1.  


More than four hundred residents of the Town of Pelham pay annually for the library facilities which they receive from the neighboring City of New Rochelle.  Many of them do not know that a library exists in Hutchinson School or that its facilities are available to any resident in the Town of Pelham.  Extending these facilities outside of the Village of North Pelham is a graceful gesture of the Library Board.  The funds for maintenance of the library are furnished by the Village of North Pelham.

In addition to those Pelham residents who patronize New Rochelle Library a small number are registered with the Mount Vernon library.  Thus there is shown the need for a better library for the Town of Pelham, and we note with interest that the Town Board has taken up the matter after receiving a recommendation from Mayor Amato.  Mayor Gause of Pelham Manor has gone on record as being in favor of establishing a worthwhile library for the town.

It should not be difficult to obtain Federal aid for the erection of a building fully equipped.  Supervisor Harold W. Davis has evinced an interest in the project, which we believe should be sponsored by the Town Board.  His office is busy obtaining facts and figures bearing on the number of patrons at the Hutchinson School library and the number who pay to have the advantages of neighboring libraries at their disposal.

The Pelham Sun would like to receive communications from any of its readers who are interested in the provision of a new library building.  We would like to receive opinions as to the most convenient location for the erection of a building.  We have already shown our preference for a site in the proximity of the New Haven R. R. main line station on Wolf's Lane or Fifth avenue.  There are plenty of other locations available.  The geographical center of the Town of Pelham is in the neighborhood of Colonial avenue and Wolf's Lane."

Source:  A TOWN LIBRARY, The Pelham Sun, Jul. 22, 1938, Vol. 28, No. 16, p. 2, cols. 1-2.  

"Davis Studies Plan For Town Public Library
Proposal for Town Library is Endorsed by Supt. of Schools Brown and Mayor Gause of Pelham Manor.

Supervisor Harold W. Davis has called for information relative to the operation of the North Pelham Village Library in his investigation of the proposal for a Library financed by the Town of Pelham.  The proposal for a Public Library to be available for all of the citizens of the Pelham villages was first announced by The Pelham Sun and has received the endorsement of several local officials.  Mayor Dominic Amato of North Pelham has recommended to Supervisor Davis that the Town Board undertake to finance the erection of a library building in a central location and to equip it with books.

The library conducted by the Village of North Pelham in the Hutchinson School building is free for the residents of North Pelham.  Pelham Heights and Pelham Manor residents may borrow books at a fee of one dollar per year.

Reports from the New Rochelle Public Library indicate that Pelham Heights and Pelham Manor booklovers are taking advantage of the facilities afforded in great numbers.  There are 424 subscribers from the Pelhams on the active list of the New Rochelle Public Library.  They pay an annual fee of one dollar for the privilege.  The Pelham Sun learned that it costs the New Rochelle Library approximately $3.00 per year to carry these subscribers, and although this is not official, it's possible that this fee may be raised in the near future.

The Mount Vernon Public Library charges a fee of $3.00 per 

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year for out-of-town subscribers.  The Pelham members of that institution number only three.

Mayor Gause Approves.

Mayor Edmund C. Gause of Pelham Manor was among those who announced their approval of the proposed town library this week.  The Pelham Manor chief executive went so far as to announce that he would recommend financial aid from that village if it is legally possible.

'If it is determeined that the citizens of Pelham Manor would avail themselves of the library facilities, and it is legally possible for the village to financially support such a project,' said Mayor Gause to The Pelham Sun, 'I would recommend that the Board of Trustees do so.'  Mayor Gause agreed to investigate the legal right of the Village of Pelham Manor to assist in the project.

Needed for Adult Education.

The proposal to materially increase local library facilities meets with favor from Superintendent of Schools Joseph Clifton Brown, who endorsed the project when interviewed by The Pelham Sun this week.  According to Mr. Brown a library such as is contemplated by those who are sponsoring the plan will be much in demand as the Adult Education School of Pelham advances.

'There will be considerable need for reference books by those who are to undertake courses in the Adult Education School,' said Mr. Brown.  'The present public library in Hutchinson School, while it has been supplying the needs of residents of North Pelham, cannot hope under its present budget to provide all the books that will be needed in conjunction with the Adult Education School program.  The adult pupils will be greatly handicapped if they have to go to New Rochelle or to Mount Vernon to do this reference work because there already is great demand for such books in those communities.  If we hope to continue our Adult Education program a Public Library for the entire town, well-equipped for reference work should be established in Pelham.'

It was suggested to Mayor Amato of North Pelham, by Mrs. William B. Randall, resident of Pelham Manor, that a citizens' committee be appointed to promote the project, and if possible solicit contributions to an endowment fund to provide books for the library.  Mayor Dominic Amato has accepted the suggestion and is expected to extend invitations to several prominent citizens in the near future.  

The proposal for a Town Public Library is not a new one.  In 1924 after considerable agitation, the Town Board authorized a special election for a $61,000 bond issue for the erection of a Public Library Building on town owned property just south of the Town Hall.  The issue was carried by the scant margin of three votes, 147 to 145.

Immediately following the election, David A. L'Esperance, of Pelham Manor who was then a Justice of the Peace declared that the election was illegal, and at his recommendation the Town Board failed to ratify the vote.  Judge L'Esperance's contentions that the election was illegal were based on the following grounds:  1. -- Towns of an assessed valuation of more than two millions of dollars were limited in library expenditures to a sum equalling a levy of one mill per dollar of valuation.  Pelham's proposed expenditure at that time was 2-1/2 times the legal limit; 2. -- The Town Law expressly provides that only taxpayers can vote on propositions for expenditure of public funds.  Judge L'Esperance claimed that he had information to the effect that all qualified to vote at school elections had been permitted to vote at the special election; 3. -- Town voting lists were used to check voters instead of the assessment roll; 4. -- The taxpayers did not have specific information as to what land on which it was proposed to erect the lbirary was originally purchased for."

Source:  Davis Studies Plan For Town Public Library -- Proposal for Town Library is Endorsed by Supt. of Schools Brown and Mayor Gause of Pelham Manor, The Pelham Sun, Jul. 22, 1938, Vol. 28., No. 16, p. 1, cols. 4-5 & p. 5, cols. 5-6.

Supervisor to Ask Town Board Members to Act with Citizens in Study of Means of Establishing Public Library.

A survey for a Town Public Library will be proposed by Supervisor Harold W. Davis at the next meeting of the Town Board.  Supervisor Davis will ask members of the board to act on a committee with prominent citizens to make a study of means of financing a Public Library as proposed in a recent editorial in The Pelham Sun.  At a conference last night with Mayor Dominic Amato of North Pelham and Mayor Edmund G. Gause of Pelham Manor, both of whom have announced their favor of a Town Library, Supervisor Davis agreed to undertake the survey.  

The committee will make a study of methods of finance for the library by the local municipalities and the possibility of raising an endowment fund to supplement municipal financing."  

Source:  DAVIS TO NAME COMMITTEE FOR LIBRARY SURVEY -- Supervisor to Ask Town Board Members to Act with Citizens in Study of Means of Establishing Public Library, The Pelham Sun, Jul. 29, 1938, Vol. 28, No. 17, p. 1, col. 3


Let us say very plainly that the movement to give Pelham a public library worthy of the town, is not just an amanation of the newspaper dog days.  It is an outgrowth of a very plainly visible need of the people of Pelham, and we believe could be a desirable addition to the facilities for good living afforded Pelham residents.

Hundreds of us use the little library on Fourth street and hundreds more of Pelham residents pay annual fees for use of the library facilities extended to them in New Rochelle.  There is plenty of evidence that the erection of a library building would be helpful to the community.

There has been some opposition to the suggested plan of applying for Federal funds which are now being spent so freely in an effort to restore the prosperity of yesteryear.  It is claimed that requests for appropriations should not be made because if such requests are warranted it means a contribution to the increase in our national debt.  The time to assume that attitude is in our opinion long before such appropritations are made by Congress.  Whatever portion of the four billions of Federal funds may come to Pelham or whatever portion may not, it is certain that Pelham taxpayers will have to pay a pro rata share of that four billions of debt.

As an ideal we could wish that every community would refuse to accept funds from the Federal Government in the knowledge that such funds must increase taxation.  Practical experience tells us that when Federal funds of this kind are being distributed by the Federal Government, there is hardly ever any difficulty in finding eager recipients.  

The public library may be instituted by private funds."

Source:  A PUBLIC LIBRARY, The Pelham Sun, Jul. 29, 1938, Vol. 28. No. 17, p. 2, col. 1.

Supervisor Will Present Proposal Advanced by The Pelham Sun to Members of Town Board.

Preliminary work on the study of the proposed Town Public Library will be undertaken at the next meeting of the Town Board.  Supervisor Harold W. Davis has asked the Mayors of the three Pelham villages to recommend citizens from their district to work with the Town Councilmen in probing the plan.  Last week Supervisor Davis announced that he would present to the Town Board the suggestion made recently in an editorial in The Pelham Sun, that a free public library for use of all citizens of the town be established.  The project has been approved by Mayor Dominic Amato and the North Pelham Board of Trustees, Mayor Edmund C. Gause of Pelham Manor and Supt. of Schools Joseph Clifton Brown.  

In asking Mayor Amato, Mayor Gause and Mayor Talbert W. Sprague of Pelham Heights to suggest names for the committee, Supervisor Davis said as follows:  'I expect to bring before the Town Board the much discussed library question.  It might occur that the Town Board would ask for the appointment of a Citizens' Committee to study the possibilities, and so, in anticipation of this I am asking that you designate, one, two or three citizens in your village who have some qualifications to serve on such a committee.'"

Source:  MAYORS ASKED TO SUGGEST LIBRARY COMMITTEE NAMES -- Supervisor Will Present Proposal Advanced by The Pelham Sun to Members of Town Board, The Pelham Sun, Aug. 5, 1938, Vol. 28, No. 18, p. 1, col. 3.


Mrs. Genz, F. A. Clinck and Thomas Kennett Suggested To Represent North Pelham

Frank Clinch, chairman of the Hutchinson School Library Board; Mrs. Frederick C. Genz, chairman of the Northe Pelham Parent-Teacher-Association, and Thomas M. Kennett, publisher of The Pelham Sun, were named by Mayor Dominic Amato as members of a Citizen's Committee to represent North Pelham in making a study with the other villages of the possibilities of building a Town Library.

Mayor Amato announced the names of the members of his committee at a meeting of the North Pelham Village Board Wednesday night and said that he believed he had chosen three citizens well qualified to study the proposal for the library made by himself.  The request for the committee was made by Supervisor Harold H. Davis in letters to the Mayors of the three villages last week."

Source:  THREE NAMED BY MAYOR AMATO FOR LIBRARY SURVEY -- Mrs. Genz, F. A. Clinck and Thomas Kennett Suggested To Represent North Pelham, The Pelham Sun, Aug. 12, 1938, Vol. 28, No. 19, p. 1, col. 4.


The Town Board on Wednesday night made preparations to conduct a survey of the township to find out whether there is a need for better library facilities.  

The Pelham Sun has advocated such a survey after it found out that a large number of Pelham residents were paying yearly dues to enable them to take advantage of library facilities in nearby cities.  This, in addition to the large number who patronize the small library which is maintained in Hutchinson School building.

The Town Board has taken a commendable step forward.  It does not propose to add to the tax burden through the erection of a library building unless it is seen that there is a well-defined need for it.  We believe that such a need will be found.

In a community such as is Pelham it may not be necessary to add a bond issue to the tax burden of the town in order to provide better library facilities.  There are many public-spirited citizens who realize the educational and recreative value of such an institution who may wish to give practical aid to any movement with such an objective.  Libraries have been erected and furnished in [illegible] through the concerted effort of a number of public spirited individuals who feel that such an effort is warranted.

We shall await with interest the result of the survey, feeling that it is a progressive step that is well in harmony with the rest of the town.  The assistance of the Carnegie Foundation in making the survey will give the report a decidedly authoritative tone."

Source:  A SURVEY ORDERED, The Pelham Sun, Aug. 19, 1938, Vol. 28, No. 20, p. 2, col. 1.  

Annual Report of Library Committee Shows Remarkable Service Rendered by Book Collection.

An institution which is rendering a remarkable service to North Pelham is the Public Library situated in the Hutchinson School, which has a total of 8,397 books.  And are they being read?  The report of Library Chairman Frank A. Clinch, submitted to the Board of Trustees on Wednesday night shows that there was a total circulation of 49,874 during the year ending Dec. 31, 1939.

There were 3,139 active members in the library.  During the last year 264 newcomers were admitted.  There are 15 non-resident members, who pay fees.   

The library is supported by the Village of North Pelham.  Last year the village paid $2,000 of the library expense.  A $100 contribution was paid by the state.

The library occupies two small rooms in the basement of the Hutchinson school.  Mrs. Mary Dickenson is the librarian."

Source:  PUBLIC LIBRARY MEMBERS READ 49,874 BOOKS -- Annual Report of Library Committee Shows Remarkable Service Rendered by Book Collection, The Pelham Sun, Mar. 15, 1940, p. 4, col. 8.

"Mrs. Dickenson Completing 25 Years Service At Pelham Public Library Reviews Growth In Readers, Books
Librarian Started Service in 1915 When Readers Numbered About 100.  List of Subscribers Now Totals 3,600 Who Have 8,000 Volumes to Choose From in Widely Diversified Fields.


Perhaps 25 years ago this Summer, you were a wide-eyed youngster reading with avid interest the 'Little Colonel' books or the endless adventures of the 'Rover Boys.'  A still August afternoon would find you on the library doorstep awaiting the arrival of the Librarian in order that you might return one book and withdraw another to follow still further the adventures of the blonde-haired little heroine or the prodigiously active Rover Boys.  The amiable Librarian who took a polite and sympathetic interest in your reading was Mrs. Mary A. Dickenson who this month completes 25 years of service as Librarian at Pelham Public Library, located in the Hutchinson School Building and supported by the Village of North Pelham.  

The Public Library received its state charter on June 25, 1915 and Mrs. Dickenson began her service in the following August.  The Library has been located in the school building continuously for the quarter century with the exception of a period from 1924 to 1926 when it was housed in the Town Hall on Fifth avenue, during alterations to the school building.

Mrs. Dickenson surveys with considerable satisfaction the steady growth of the library in readers and books during her long period of service.  The active subscribers number 3,600 as compared with about 100 when she began her duties and the number of books during that period has increased from about 1,000 volumes to 8,000.  New blood is coming into the Library with an average of 24 new readers each month for the past several months.  'People are reading more non-fiction, particularly books of travel and biography,' Mrs. Dickenson reports, a trend that tends to make any librarian happy.  The average daily Summer business at the library in the Hutchinson School Building on Fourth street is 180 books in and out which makes this Summer even busier than last.  The vacation months are by no means slack ones at the library.  Lots of children are at a loose-end and the Library answers a definite need for them as well as for the adults who are taking adventure [sic] of increased leisure to catch up on their reading.

Any Library offers a place of superb opportunity to the individual with the sole equipment of being able to read.  Walk into the Library and you are in the position of a host about to give a party.  Expense is no object, time no longer exists or space.  You may choose your guests from the far corners of the earth.  If they have long since gone to their reward, it matters not, you may still call them to your side.  You may walk with the great of the earth, having as your companions the finest minds the human race ever produced.  You may see life through the eyes of the artist and come into a new world.  You may appreciate it and feel it with the poets; you may ponder on it and try to understand it with the philosophers; you may learn more of its strangeness with the scientists.  They are all there.  No mean group and walk with them and your stature inevitably grows taller.

The Pelham Library is no stranger to this rule and year by year as Mrs. Dickenson is in a position to know, readers are finding more and more satisfaction and pleasure from its volumes, pushing farther and farther apart the [illegible] of their world.

Rich Field of Interest in Non-Fiction

Pelham readers are learning more about their own country through the 'Rivers of America' series.  These books by various authors take for a [illegible] some famous river and contribute a wealth of historic and literary lore about the states through which the rivers flow.  Among the other popular books on the library shelves in the non-fiction field are:  'I Married Adventure,' by Osa Johnson (Mrs. Martin Johnson), noted explorer; 'Wind, Sand and Stars,' by Antoine de Saint Exupery, French airman.  This book, written in truly memorable prose was awarded the Grand Prix of the Academie Francaise and combines adventure and philosophy in most appealing fashion.  In the field of biography 'Pope Pius XII,' by Joseph F. Dinneen presents the story of the Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church, the spiritual leader of 300 million people.  Mrs. Dickenson reports a demand for Adolf Hitler's 'Mein Kampf,' which is rarely left on the library shelves.  'How to Read a Book,' by Mortimer J. Adler which bears as sub-title, 'The Art of Getting a Liberal Education,' is finding favor with serious readers and 'Smattering of Ignorance,' by Oscar Levant is another book in demand.  'Paper Chase,' the amenities of Stamp Collection appeals to a large slice of the public, so common now is the stamp collector.  'I've Met the Folks You've Read About,' by Labert St. Clair is a newspapermen's [sic] account of outstanding personalities he has encountered and 'Autobiography with Letters,' is the important contribution of a well-loved American personality William Lyon Phelps.

In a specialized field and still of popular interest is Andre Blum's 'The Origin of Printing and Engraving.'  The author is professor of Art in the School of the Louvre and the translator, Harry Miller Lydneberg is a noted librarian and writer in his own right.  James Truslow Adams is the author of two solid volumes for the historical minded, 'Empire on the Seven Seas' and 'Building the British Empire.'  America looks at itself in Frederick Lewis Allen's 'Since Yesterday,' a picture of the 1930's and 'Three's A Crew,' by Kathrene Pinkerton, author of 'Wilderness Wife,' offers a unique story of an American family afloat with a boat their only home for a period of about seven years.

If you are musically inclined you will probably be interested in 'Music for the Multitude,' by Sidney Harrison which offers a comprehensive survey of its subject or perhaps you would prefer, if you are very young, 'The Kingdom of Swing,' by Benny Goodman and Irving Kolodon.  The private life of a nation, of people at play in America from 1607 to 1940 is the subject matter of 'America Learns to Play,' by Foster Rhea Dulles.

For a cool interlude one could pick up 'Wonder Creatures of the Sea,' by A. Hyatt Verrill which opens to the reader the strange depths of the ocean; 'An Amiable Adventure,' by Amy Hemingway Jones will take you on a brief personalized jaunt to the Orient.

If you are a parent, 'What Shall the Children Read?' by Laura K. Richards should answer a thousand and one important questions covering a field as widely diversified as Mother Goose and fairy tales to Shakespeare and the Bible.  'Experimenting At Home with the Wonders of Science,' should strike a responsive chord in the interest of many boys.  In this you may learn such fascinating things as 'boiling water without fire'; 'floating a needle'; 'making an air thermometer'; 'telephoning through a string'; 'testing foods for starch,; etc.  'The Victory of Television,' by Philip Kerby and 'From Telegraphy to Television,' by Lieut. Col. Chetwode Crawley will help bring you up to date on the story of communication.  

'Mary Thomas' Knitting Book,' which gives a history of the art, the contributions of different nations as well as many practical directions for knitters should prove popular with fair readers and 'Growing Plants Without Soil,' an abc of plant chemiculture opens a new door for the gardener.

'She Strives to Conquer,' by Frances Maule and 'Men Wanted' by the same author, discuss problems close to the hearts of many men and women and offer sound advice about getting jobs and keeping them.  

Mrs. Dickenson reports an increased interest in books on American history and civics and of course no library can have too many mystery stories to suit its readers.  Both men and women 'eat them up.'

The library offers a fine array of new books in the field of fiction which offer in some instances through the medium of long gone days, a kind of release from the present.  Among those popular at the moment are 'Master At Arms' by Sabitini, a story of the French Revolution; 'King's Row' by Bellamann; 'Night in Bombay' by Bromfield; 'Quietly My Captain Waits' by Evelyn Eaton; 'Chad Hanna' by Edmonds; 'Mr. Skeffington' by Elizabeth; 'Oh Promised Land' by Street' 'Stars on the Sea' by Mason; 'Wild Geese Calling' by White; 'Sea Island Lady' by Griswold; 'River of Earth' by Still; 'The Floor of Heaven' by Bates; 'The Morning is Near Us' by Glaspell -- to mention but a few.

Doesn't something stir your interest or your curiosity?  Well, the library is open from Monday to Friday inclusive from 9:30 a.m. to 12 noon and from 2 to 5:30 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights from 7 to 9 o'clock.  It is free as the air to residents of North Pelham, all others pay a small fee."

Source:  Mrs. Dickenson Completing 25 Years Service At Pelham Public Library Reviews Growth In Readers, Books -- Librarian Started Service in 1915 When Readers Numbered About 100.  List of Subscribers Now Totals 3,600 Who Have 8,000 Volumes to Choose From in Widely Diversified Fields, The Pelham Sun, Aug. 9, 1940, Vol. 30, No. 19, p. 5, cols. 3-5.  

Order a Copy of "Thomas Pell and the Legend of the Pell Treaty Oak."  

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