General Information

Programs and Events

From Slavery to Freedom: New Research on African-American History on Long Island

Wednesday, April 16, 2014, 7:00- 8:30 pm

A recent blossoming of new research has enriched our knowledge of African-American history on Long Island. Professor Jennifer Anderson from the History Department at Stony Brook will highlight African Americans' significant regional contributions, from the colonial period to the early 20th century, including the transition from slavery to freedom and the development of vibrant black communities. This talk is especially relevant to the Long Island Reads selection for 2014, The Manor, by Mac Griswold. To register for this program, click here.

 

A Look at Sagtikos Manor, the Oldest House in the Town of Islip

Wednesday, July 9, 2014, 7:00- 8:30 pm

The history of the Sagtikos Manor in Bay Shore spans over 300 years from its purchase by Stephanus Van Cortland from the Secatogue Tribe in 1692 to the present. The Manor house, first built in 1697 with additions in 1772 and 1902, incorporates three different architectural styles. Throughout the British occupation of Long Island during the American Revolution, it was used on and off by Sir Henry Clinton as his headquarters. In addition, George Washington spent the night of April 21, 1790 at the Manor, while on his presidential tour of Long Island. Ownership of the Manor has passed through several families over the years, the most recent being that of the Gardiners. It is now owned by Suffolk County, with the Sagtikos Manor Historical Society administering the site. Our speakers, Norma Meder, Director of Docents, and Phyllis Chan-Carr, Marketing Director at the Sagtikos Manor Historical Society, will present a history of the house and its inhabitants, describe recent efforts toward restoration and interpretation of the site, and take the audience on a virtual tour of the house. To register for this program, click here.

 

Wrights, Wrongs and a Belmont: Long Island's First Air Show, Belmont Park, 1910

Wednesday, September 17, 2014, 7:00- 8:30 pm

Frank Turano, Professor at Stony Book University, has been researching the history of early aviation on Long Island and will share his findings in this fascinating presentation. While the main focus of this program will be the Long Island Air Show, held at Belmont Park in 1910, the story Dr. Turano will tell is of far larger scope. This program will present the results of new research and a fresh view of the earliest years of manned flight. It will examine the role of the first three international air shows and their impact on the developing aviation industry. Additionally, it will present a new perspective on the contributions of Samuel Pierpont Langley and the role of the Aviation Experimentation Association of Alexander Graham Bell and Glenn Curtiss. A key point will also be made about the relationship between the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. and the Wright Brothers. To register for this program, click here.

 

Lawrence Grant White (1887-1956): A Look at the Lesser Known White

Wednesday, November 12, 2014, 7:00- 8:30 pm

Brad Harris, Smithtown's Town Historian, has spent many hours researching the life of Lawrence Grant White, son of Stanford and Bessie White, and grandson of Judge John Lawrence Smith and has uncovered a truly remarkable story. Lawrence Grant White, like his father, became and architect and was associated with his father's architectural firm, McKim, Mead and White. His commissions ranged from residential homes to important civic buildings throughout the United States. He designed the original Smithtown Library, as well as Smithtown Town Hall. In addition, however, Lawrence Grant White displayed a great aptitude for diplomatic intelligence and military work, a quality he proved while serving the U.S. Naval Reserve during the First and Second World Wars. To register for this program, click here.

History

An important event in the early history of the Smithtown Library was the establishment of the Richard H. Handley Collection of Long Island Americana, a special local history archives.  Richard Hockman Handley (1848-1914) was a wealthy businessman who lived with his family in neighboring Hauppauge.  Mr. Handley dedicated much of his time and money to one of his greatest interests-- the collection of rare materials related to the local history of Long Island and the surrounding regions.  With the help of various associates and dealers, Mr. Handley amassed a truly remarkable collection of books, documents, manuscripts, maps, atlases and ephemera.
 
In 1921, Richard Handley's widow, Mary, loaned her husband's extensive collection of rare and valuable local history materials to the Smithtown Library.  Five years later, in 1926, Mrs. Handley, with the consent of her four children donated the collection to the library outright along with a fund for its maintenance.  She wrote the following to the Smithtown Library Board of Trustees on April 2, 1926: "I desire to have a guarantee from your board that the Library of Americana presented to the Smithtown Library, will be held always as a memorial to Richard H. Handley."
 
Mrs. Handley's request has been, is still and will be continue to be met by the Smithtown Library.  The Richard H. Handley Collection of Long Island Americana (more commonly referred to as the Long Island Room) is recognized as one of the most important local history collections on Long Island and its staff regularly welcomes researchers of all kinds.  Over the years the collection has continued to grow, mostly through the donations of other local individuals, families and organizations.

Scope

The Richard H. Handley Collection of Long Island Americana (more commonly referred to as the Long Island Room) is a special local history archives located within the library's main building in Smithtown. The collection is comprised of approximately 8,400 books, 750 maps and 200 boxes of archival and manuscript materials. Additionally, the collection includes historic atlases, account books, scrapbooks, audiovisual materials, paintings, engravings, photographs, daguerreotypes, tintypes, microfilm, newspapers, postcards, posters, subject files and ephemera.

Throughout its existence the Long Island Room's collecting strategy has focused primarily on documenting the settlement and history of physical Long Island. As such, most collection materials relate in some way to Long Island, New York City, lower Connecticut and colonial New England (where settlers came from to populate the Long Island region). These materials cover a wide variety of subject areas and include geographies, histories, biographies, law books, periodicals, local town records, writers' manuscripts, religious sermons, military accounts from the American Revolution through to World War II, items related to specific aspects of Long Island agriculture, science and technology, literature, art and architecture, transportation and industry. The collection also reflects a special emphasis placed on Smithtown's local history that captures the cultural, political, economical, environmental, genealogical and religious trends that have changed over time in the community. These materials document the founding, settlement and history of the Smithtown area and consist mainly of ledgers and papers from local individuals, families, businesses and organizations.
 
Some of the highlights of the Long Island Room's collection include an original copy of Daniel Denton's 1670 book, A Brief Description of New York: Formerly Called New-Netherlands; a 1770 broadside from the Oysterponds area of Long Island recounting the deaths of four men lost at sea; a manuscript copy of Gabriel Furman's 1824 publication, Antiquities of Long Island; a log that chronicles the voyages of four whaling ships-- the Neptune, Sabina, Niantic and Hamiliton from 1839 to 1850; a collection of early twentieth century primary source materials relating to the construction of Motor Parkway and the Vanderbilt Cup Races; several early Dutch maps of Long Island and the surrounding coastline dating back to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries; documents and materials relating to the establishment and early history of the Long Island Rail Road; documents, sermons and manuscripts related to the history of slavery on Long Island and the area's Underground Railroad routes; religious tracts and sermons from the eighteenth century; and a representative selection of Long Island atlases, mostly dating back to the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. 

Mission

The Long Island Room is committed to identifying, collecting, managing, preserving and making accessible materials of enduring value that relate to the settlement, history and culture of Long Island, with a special emphasis on Smithtown and the surrounding region.  Collection areas encompass history, geography, biography, genealogy, art, literature, the environment, science and religion.  Since the Long Island Room is a paper-based archives the collection's main focus is on materials such as primary documents, local family and business records, scrapbooks, manuscripts, rare books, maps, atlases, photographs, postcards, newspapers, posters and the like.  These materials, as well as a variety of secondary sources are available to the patrons of the Smithtown Library and outside researchers.  In addition, the Long Island Room strives to heighten the local community's awareness of its resources through a broad range of outreach efforts that include exhibits, programs, digitization projects, oral history recordings and coordinated research projects with other local institutions.