Celia M. Hastings Local History Room

  • Celia M. Hastings (President, Board of Trustees, 1977-2002) and Elaine Phipps (Library Director, 1952-1984) share a light moment, at a Board Meeting, in 1979.   Library automation had already begun to emerge, but the microcomputer revolution was just around the corner, with the Internet, social, and cloud networking revolutions to follow.  Elaine Phipps would see the first of these changes, starting with automation of the card catalogs.  But, it was Celia Hastings, who would guide the Library through major paradigm shifts in technology and forms and formats in which library materials would be obtained, loaned, and ways in which information would be retrieved, shared, and stored.  By 2002, the speed at which the library and its services were propelled to the public was lightyears ahead of where it had been in 1979.   And the changes in the nature of materials, services, and access since then, now rest on the foundation that Celia Hastings strove so long, hard, well, forcefully, intelligently, to build.  -- MHR

  • Displays on Patchogue literary couple, Elizabeth Oakes Smith and Seba Smith. They met when she was an aspiring young writer and he a local newspaper editor in Maine. Transplanted to New York, Washington, and Brooklyn, they arose to popularity and moved in prominent 19th century literary and political circles, nationally and internationally. Seba Smith, in the guise "Capt. Jack Downing," became the father of a folksy, but pointed, form of political humor that later saw echos in the works of Mark Twain, Will Rogers, and Bob Hope. Seba Smith's initial barbs struck at President Andrew Jackson and his administration. Smith later took aim at powerful U.S. Senator Thomas Hart Benson, through a parody of his memoirs, in My Thirty Years Out of the Senate. Elizabeth Oakes Smith was even better known. She was an accomplished poet, author, abolitionist women's rights and suffrage advocate, a much sought lecturer, and could verbally fence as an equal with the luminaries of the age. The couple knew Emerson, Thoreau, Poe, Longfellow, Tennyson, Webster, Calhoun, and Clay among many others, and had their own very popular literary salon. But, in 1860, when Seba's health went into serious decline, he was advised by his doctor to seek the more salubrious clime of the countryside, and for some reason, the couple moved to Patchogue, where (in 1868), Seba died. Elizabeth, was embarassed and suffered a major decline in popularity fell afoul of the Lincoln administration and of popular opinion when her poet son, Appleton was caught, twice, trying to run guns and slaves (directly from Africa, a long-banned trade) to the Confederacy, in 1860. He was probably a connection with (and interest in) one or more of the Patchogue cotton mills (situated not far from his house), which were in sudden need of cut off supplies of raw materials. Trading with the Enemy was far more common than once thought, and there is a new, eye-opening book out (of that title) on the subject, that documents Northern mill owners' longstanding sympathy and collusion with Southerners and their "peculiar institution", slavery. Appleton was jailed in New York, escaped, but was caught on Fire Island, and rejailed in Boston. Elizabeth tried to secure Appleton's release and wasn't above trying to pull political strings. A cell door seems to have been carelessly left unlocked, guards looked the other way, and he escaped through a window, to a ship bound for England. Later he showed up in North Carolina, where his mother, after a time, after the war, joined him. Sadly, Elizabeth Oakes and Seba Smith lived long enough to see their work go out of style. Both now rest near the site of their former house, which they had called "The Willows," on the East side of Lakeview Cemetery. Appleton, following his habit of failed business ventures, and a short, ironic stint as a U.S. Congressman, is now buried in North Carolina. --MHR

The Celia M. Hastings Local History Room is located on the Main Floor (Terry Street side), of The Patchogue-Medford Library.  It contains an eclectic reference collection, emphasizing history of the Long Island Region and the Patchogue-Medford Area.  Its Long Island Reference and New York Reference [State history] book collectionsare complemented by its periodical, genealogy, map & atlas, postcard & photographic, vertical file, oral history, and archival collections.  These are rounded out by this website, with its expanding series of online electronic web pages (under a number of geographic and subject themes, with chronologies, digital materials, and links), plus offline electronic resources (inquire at the Local History Room's reference desk).  Online resources include a series of web pages related to New York State, the Long Island Region, individual L.I. Counties (including Suffolk), ihe10 Towns of L.I. (proper), including Brookhaven Town), L.I.'s Outer Islands, its numerous Villages (incorporated and unincorporated), the Patchogue-Medford Area (its villages, and their history); along with links to digital editions of many local history classics (usually full-text, searchable, downloadable), both from digitized PML holdings and outside sources.  A growing selection of online local history reference tools serve both those casually browsing and those doing research..  This website has been designed to serve many people from many perspectives.  Audio & video resources, PowerPoint presentations, and historic images are featured.  The Local History Room also features mounted works, occasionally changing exhibits & displays (often tied to current comemorations), and a variety of free handouts (primarily in-house publications, nearly all of which also appear online).  See also below for a more detailed Description of Collections and Services, a Self-Guided Tour of the Local History Room, information on our Local History Website, or to contact a librarian, ask a question, make a constructive suggestion, or to set up an appointment, within or outside regular room hours.

Local History Room Hours:

  • Monday, Tuesday, & Wednesday:  6:00 P.M. - 9:00 P.M.
  • Thursday & Friday:  2:00 P.M. - 5:00 P.M.
  • Saturday:   9:30 AM - 12:00 P.M. & 2:00 P.M. - 5:00 P.M.
  • Sundays (October-May):  1:00 P.M. - 4:45 P.M. 

         If the room is not open during posted hours, inquire at the Adult Reference Desk.

Local History Room Mission

The purpose of the Local History Collection is to provide the community with a reference collection on selected aspects of the history of Patchogue, Medford, Brookhaven Town, Suffolk County, Long Island, and New York State, in various formats and media, including but not limited to texts, photos, audiocassettes, and electronic resources, and to create and improve the tools that promote its accessibility.  Approved by the Board of Trustees, October 2002.


► Click here for A Description of Local History Room Collections, Services, Policies, & History  (Revised January 2015)

► Click here for A Self-Guided Tour of the Celia M.Hastings Local History Room  (Revised January 2015) -- includes color photos

► Click here for a 360 Degree Views of the Room (Courtesy of  Inside Patchogue) [New, April 2015]

► Click here to discover Who Was Celia M. Hastings?  -- Article courtesy of the Long Island Advance

► Click here to go to the Patchogue-Medford Library History web  page


A Few Notes

The "History Pages" (upper left column), generally proceed downward from larger to smaller geographic areas, offering classified sets of links to information and additional web pages on major local history subtopics and themes, relating to the geographic area covered.  

The basic geographic web pages, and their subsidiary web pages generally include full-text, searchable classic histories, public documents-in-collection, occasional genealogies, digitized material from our collections, or providing links to local history works in other attributed collections, and related Patchogue-Medford Library Catalog and Vertical File samplers.  

Many works that appear at one level of geography support and relate to works in others (e.g., State histories often have material relating to counties or regions of that state).  Browsing more general or more specific web pages, larger or smaller geographic areas, can improve your chances of finding additional information of interest or use.  Under "Resources" (lower left column), a number of handy reference links for research or browsing local history follow Web pages are based in-part on frequently-asked questions (serving as a sort of FAQ), designed to offer answers, or to provide some preliminary guidance and orientation.  Some web pages address local aspects of an historical celebration or commemorative event (e.g., a history month, year, archives month, centennial, bicentennial, 350th anniversary, etc.).  

See also the following:

► Click here for PML Local History Website:  A 1-Page Summary Sheet of Patchogue-Medford Library Local History web pages & satellite pages  (Revised January 8, 2015)  

►  Click here for Current Local History Room Displays and Exhibits (January 2015)

►  Click here to discover Who Uses a Local History Collection?

► Click here for A Guide to Localizing Dewey, for Long Island Use  (Revised & expanded 11/13/12)

► Click here for A Few Thoughts on Some of the Quirks of L.I. Local History 

► Click here for Local History Contacts and Some Key Websites  (Revised & expanded December 2014)

► For more information:  Contact Mark Rothenberg, Local History Liaison, Celia M. Hastings Local History Room:  Tel:  (631) 654-4700, ext. 240; Email:  mrothenberg@pmlib.org  


► Click here to Book an Appointment with a Librarian (check the box for local history, and indicate your interest(s): e.g., identify your specific research topic, or request a Local History Room tour (general, or one specific to your interests), or a general local history website tour.