Events · Historic Photos · Museum · Uncategorized

Coming soon…

So…what’s been going on.

Next month brings the return of our continuing Our American History series with Eleanor Roosevelt: The Development of a Woman Activist on Saturday March 11th, 10:00AM at the library.


There’s also a genealogy workshop on Saturday March 25th at 10:00 at the library. There is a $10.00 registration fee, but both members of the Putnam Valley Historical Society and/or Friends of the Library have a reduced fee of $5.00. Speaking from personal experience – genealogy is fascinating and you NEVER know what you will find piecing together your family tree.


The schoolhouse will hopefully be reopening sometime in March, there will be a post here when we get a date. That post will also include information about the exhibit for 2017, and possibly the schedule of topics for Our American History.

Regarding the Where Are We houses – Some have been potentially ID’d by looking up tax notices in the newspapers from the 30s and 40s. This will be an ongoing project, as will the Who Are We pictures. Nobody has been identified yet, but some people in the photo collection that were labeled as “so and so’s grandfather” are now properly labeled with their own name. Again, another ongoing project.

We’ve been getting messages from people about helping out and volunteer opportunities. We’d love to have you! Once we reopen for the season, the house/people project will be ongoing, we are always scanning and transcribing documents…it may sound boring but I promise, it’s not. We are also interested in anything photo/document/story you may have that’s related to Women’s Suffrage or World War I AND is connected to either Putnam Valley or Putnam County. 2017 is the centennial anniversary of both Women’s Suffrage and the US entry into World War I. If you have anything, contact either us or the Putnam County Historian’s Office. We’d love to see what you have!

The response to the last picture post on Facebook was, in a word, awesome. Was not expecting that! We’ve gained 84 page likes since Wednesday morning – hello new people! Thanks for liking us!


Historic Photos · Museum

Happy New Year!

We’re nearly a month into the new year – here’s what’s been happening behind the scenes.

  • Plugging along with the picture scanning. We are well past 2,000 and the more I dig through files, the more I find. I would not be surprised if when all is said and done, we end up with 4,000 – 4,500 digital pictures. This does NOT include the documents that have been scanned (more on that below). We don’t know yet if all of these images will be available online in the future, or if we’ll just have the database available with a smaller, rotating digital album. Stay tuned.
  • Genealogy files – another project that sounds simple,until you open the first folder (Adams, in case you were curious) and see that it’s not just genealogy papers inside. That’s been taking some work. Do we scan everything and call it a day? Do we just list what we have available for each name? How do we know what’s in there if we don’t list every individual name? Do we (way in the future – like, next year in the future) create family trees for each family? I’ve settled on a combination of scanning everything and making a very basic list for now.
  • Updating the site here. If you click around, specifically on the Historic Putnam Valley menu at the top, you’ll notice there’s a new posting about the History of Putnam Valley. It’s a brief but informative writing from our past town historian Mr. Crimmins. Another document that we have 400 paper copies of that is now available to everyone. It was written 31 years ago so there are some things missing, namely the high school.Within that post (or if you hover over the menu) is a link to Historic Lake Peekskill. This was an oral history given by Bertha Gragert to Gladys Gragert Muller in 1990. I’ve started inserting pictures into the two pages, and more will be coming in the next few months. Another one of our back projects is getting all the old VHS tapes of the senior interviews onto the computer, and I’d like to get some clips of those up here and create a separate personal history section. That’ll probably happen over the summer or fall.
  • Document scanning. We have everything from dental work receipts from when a “full upper and lower” was $30.00 and could be paid in installments (my guess is early 1900s) to original school tax receipts ($0.38 tax + $0.05 collector fee) and copies of wills. And that’s just in one genealogy folder! This will definitely end up being a later rather than sooner project, since the documents aren’t just in the genealogy folders but in our regular archives as well. And the scrapbooks of newspaper articles. So many newspaper clippings.
  • Working on our upcoming exhibit. More on that in a few weeks. The opening is May 6th at 10:00AM at the schoolhouse.
Events · Historic Photos · Museum

Our American History and Who are we?

Edited – This was a post from two weeks ago that never got published! It was in the drafts when I logged in this morning to publish today’s post.

Just a quick reminder – this Saturday October 8th is the next installment of Our American History. This time we’ll be learning about the origin and history of Camp Smith with Paul R. Martin, III. Join us at the Putnam Valley Free Library on Oscawana Lake Road at 10:00AM to learn about this important part of our region’s history. It’s also the last day of our exhibit on 70 Years of the  Putnam Valley Volunteer Fire Department, so stop by the museum afterwards if you want to check it out.

If you take a peek at our Facebook page, you’ll notice that a new album (and project) was started. Who are we? is an ongoing album of the unlabeled, unidentified photos in our collection. Most are carte de visite photographs about 150 years old, but there are a few tintypes mixed in as well. Some have little notes in the old handwritten database that they were found in the attic of the Tompkins Corners Store, but nobody seems to know who they were. Most were taken at studios in Peekskill, but there’s a bunch that were taken in New York City or New Jersey.  We’ll be adding to the album every couple of weeks, and eventually will have a similar album for old house and building photos in our collection.

If you’re not on Facebook, the album (and the rest of the pictures on there) should still be visible.

See you Saturday!


But what do you have there?

Our next program is coming up on October 8th – The History of Camp Smith. Please join us and afterwards, if you haven’t yet checked out our exhibit on 70 Years of the Putnam Valley Volunteer Fire Department, stop by the museum as the 8th is the last day it will be on display.


Moving on…

What do we do at the museum? What do we have there? Of course, we’ll tell you about all the cool things we have with much enthusiasm, but many people don’t get why we love it.

Our main room is where the seasonal exhibit is displayed, where we have meetings, where visitors can sit down to look through old records, documents, photos, etc. and where we set up the Holiday Boutique. Just off the main room is a small closet, restroom, and office space. The office space was formerly a permanent kitchen display but as the museum and Historical Society grew and computers and other technologies came into existence, the room was converted to an office space. To the left of the office is a permanent general store display. The door leading to our records room is to the left of the stack of hat boxes.

To look at our records room right now would make you scratch your head and wonder, “…What? That’s exciting?”


What you can’t see are the thousands of pages of Putnam Valley history. There are store receipts and ledgers over 100 years old , family trees, report cards and attendance records, meeting minutes and newsletters from now defunct clubs and organizations, old newspapers (Putnam Valley Post, anyone?) and obituaries, maps, scrapbooks…and we are still finding things buried and misfiled. The file cabinets are getting replaced with fireproof models in the coming weeks. As mentioned above, the exhibit in the main room will be coming down after October 8th so we’ll have room to empty out the cabinets, bring in the new ones, do a rough sort of everything that came out, then refile it… with our fingers crossed that everything will fit back in the new cabinets.


Down the road, we’d like to replace the shelving system that currently holds our photo collection (still scanning as we go – all the beige boxes on the bottom two shelves are full, and every single photo is scanned so far), glass slide collection (completely scanned), photo negatives, and binders. The binders that, by themselves, hold probably an additional couple thousand pages of information. Some of them are transcriptions of old documents, some of them are copies of those old transcriptions, and some of them are holding papers that just didn’t have a home anywhere else. The shelves continue on down the wall past the window on the left and hold those binders and books. There’s also interviews on cassette tapes, video tapes, and a textile collection housed in the small closet within the records room.

And then there’s the attic. Off limits to the public, it’s full of more collection pieces, past display boards and posters, and spiders. Outside there’s an outbuilding and garden area. If you ever came to the museum as a child on a class trip, you probably ate your basket lunch in the garden. And yes, we have pictures of some of those class trips.

There are several upcoming events scheduled for the rest of the year. The Our American History series continues on the second Saturday of the month (see the Events menu for the dates and details); our Halloween Event and  Annual Meeting are at the end of October, and the Holiday Boutique finishes out the year in December. We hope to see you soon!