General Information

Contact

CONTACT THE LONG ISLAND ROOM

The Long Island Room is located on the lower level of the Main Smithtown Library at 1 North Country Road, Smithtown, New York 11787.  For general inquiries or to set up an appointment to use the collection please call 631-360-2480, x197 or submit an email message using the form below.

Contact the Long Island Room

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Programs and Events

PROGRAMS AND EVENTS

The year 2015 marks the 350th anniversary of the Town of Smithtown. To celebrate this momentous occasion the Smithtown Library's Long Island Room will be offering a series of programs exploring the history of the Town and its people. For more information about these programs, please see the list below. In addition, the Long Island Room has assembled a related exhibit, "Celebrating the 350th Anniversary of Smithtown", which will be on view through the end of 2015.

Special 350th anniversary programs will also be offered at the Smithtown Library's other branches throughout the year. For more information on those programs or to register, click here.  

 

UPCOMING PROGRAMS

Researching Smithtown

Wednesday, May 20, 2015, 7:00- 8:30 pm

Is there some aspect of Smithtown history you are interested in learning more about? Perhaps you would like to research the life of a family member that resided in Smithtown, investigate the history of your house, or study the area's natural environment. Whatever your research interests, there are a number of local institutions that can help you get started. Learn how as representatives from the Suffolk County Clerk's Office, Smithtown Historical Society, Smithtown Town Hall, and Smithtown Library's Long Island Room discuss the various types of materials available in their respective collections and explain how researchers can access these invaluable resources. To register for this program, click here.

 

Smithtown at Play- Historic Children's Games and Toys (a joint program with the Library's Children's Department)

Saturday, May 30, 2015, 10:00 am - 12:00 noon (Rain date: Saturday, June 13, 2015)

Despite the fact that children's games and toys have changed drastically over the last 350 years, the main purpose has always remained the same-- F-U-N! Come and play classic games such as hoop rolling, duck, duck, goose and hopscotch or with a collection of historic toys such as paper dolls, tops and teddy bears. This program will be held outside on the village green in front of the Library, weather permitting. To register for this program, click here.

 

Smithtown's Historic Sites

Thursday, September 17, 2015, 7:00- 8:30 pm

With its founding dating back to 1665, it is not surprising that Smithtown boasts many historic sites and structures within its borders. While age is obviously a factor, there are a number of other qualifications required for a place or building to be designated as "historic". To better understand this designation, join Jason Crowley, Preservation Director at the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities as he discusses how New York State's Historic Sites Inventory paved the way for many of Long Island's local landmarks ordinances, the distinction between the state's inventory and the National Register of Historic Places, and why historic preservation should be considered an asset to our communities. This program will also provide an overview of some of Smithtown's most significant historic sites. To register for this program, click here.

 

Smithtown's 350th Anniversary Author's Talk and Book Signing

Thursday, November 5, 2015, 7:00- 8:30 pm

In 2009 and again in 2011, Smithtown Town Historian Bradley Harris, Smithtown Historical Society Executive Director Kiernan Lannon and Smithtown Historical Society Consulting Curator Joshua Ruff, joined together to write Images of America: Smithtown and Then & Now: Smithtown (both Arcadia Publishing). Focused primarily on the historic photographic record of the town, these two books serve as important visual resources that truly capture the look and feel of the community through the years. Learn how the authors selected and used images from the Smithtown Historical Society, the Smithtown Library's Long Island Room and private collections to develop a pictorial history of the town. A book signing will follow the formal presentation. To register for this program, click here.

 

PAST PROGRAMS

The People of Smithtown

Wednesday, February 25, 2015, 7:00- 8:30 pm

When Richard Smythe (later Smith) and his family settled the area of Long Island that would eventually be known as Smithtown during the latter half of the 17th century, they could not have possibly envisioned how dramatically the community would grow and change over time. Noel Gish, author (Smithtown, New York, 1660- 1929: Looking Back Through the Lens), historian and retired social studies teacher, along with Long Island Room librarians, Cathy Ball and Caren Zatyk presented an illustrated program about the ethnic peopling of Smithtown. Drawing on historic demographics as well as the personal recollections and photographs of several individuals, this program provided a fundamental overview of Smithtown's cultural heritage.

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

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

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.