Bronxville’s History Center, a treasure trove of material on the history of the Village, is located in the Bronxville Public Library. Supported by the Village of Bronxville and managed by the Village Historian, the History Center occupies over 800 square feet in the Library’s lower level and is open by appointment.
The History Center is an outgrowth of collections privately maintained by early Village Historians, including Bertrand Burtnett, a fourth generation member of the Masterton family who settled in Bronxville in the 1830s. His records include photographs of the Village dating from the 1880s and earlier. The History Center files have been housed at the Bronxville Public Library since the early 1980s, when then-Village Historian Jean Bartlett presided over its introduction to the public. Extensive cataloging, organizing and filing remain to be completed; volunteer help is always welcome.
Dr. Raymond Geselbracht
The History Center is primarily a documentary archive of early Bronxville and its residents, although it contains a limited number of artifacts. Thousands of black and white photographs and negatives (including some rare glass negatives), supplemented by several hundred early black-and-white and colored postcards, and an extensive collection of modern colored images in print and digitized form, record the images of more than a century of Village life. Research files cover topics ranging from Artists and Architecture to Zoning and include Bronxville people, organizations, and events. An almost complete set of Bronxville’s weekly newspapers, from 1902 to 2006, is available either on microfilm or in bound volumes.
More recently the entire collection of ten different newspapers, including Tuckahoe and Eastchester publications that also covered Bronxville news, has began to be digitized and posted online at Hudson River Valley Heritage Historic Newspapers, news.hrvh.org.(link to page on this website about the historical newspapers) The entire collection will be available online during 2016. Researchers can access issues of “The Villager,” a local magazine published several times a year by the Bronxville Women’s Club, dating from 1923 to 2003.
The History Center holds more than a dozen different books written about Bronxville’s past, as well as volumes penned by and about notable local residents. Its collection of Bronxville High School yearbooks dates from 1925. The History Center also houses an extensive collection of pamphlets and magazine articles, including a wealth of material on the Lawrence Park turn-of-the-century art colony.
The archive is constantly expanding. Recent acquisitions include early 20th century architectural sketchbooks of William A. Bates, Bronxville’s most prominent early architect, as well as a 1917 studio photograph portrait of Bates, all donated by the Bates family. Also added recently: a 1909 Colliers magazine containing an illustrated article about the Westchester history pageant held that year in Bronxville; several 19th century advertising cards for Pain Killer, the patent medicine that launched the fortune of suburban Bronxville founder William Lawrence’s; and a 1917 Gramatan Coal Company brochure detailing local war activities.
In 2001, the History Center was remodeled and expanded, and for the first time the collection was held in an archivally sound environment. A climate control system dedicated to the room is redesigned to maintain constant levels of relative temperature and humidity. In addition to a rich trove of print material, the History Center contains a map case, worktables for research and study, and a copier and computer.