Welcome to the 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

Curious about what happened here in the past?:  in East Patchogue, Medford, North Patchogue, Patchogue, the Pat-Med Area, in Brookhaven Town, in Suffolk County, on L.I., or in New York State?  This is a great place to start, browse, and explore...

The Celia M. Hastings Local History Room is located on the Main Floor (Terry Street side), of The Patchogue-Medford Library, next to the Quiet Study Room.  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 historyand 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), the 10 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. 

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

        Or, call or Email for an appointment:
               Tel.  (631) 654-4700, ext. 240

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 (Rev. 1/15/17)

► Click here for A Self-Guided Tour of the Celia M.Hastings Local History Room  (Rev. 1/15/17) -- includes color photos

► Click here for a 360 Degree Views of the Room (Courtesy of  Inside Patchogue) [4/15/16]

► 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 [rev. 3/13/17]

► Click here for the PML Local History Website Summary Sheet [rev. 2/21/17]

►  AMC's TURN presented a 4-season, made-for-TV-version of Long Island's Revolutionary War Culper (or Setauket) Spy Ring, and hinting at Long Island's role in the Revolutionary War.  But, how accurate is it?   What really happened?  See our Hollywood & History in AMC's TURN website, over 100 classified subjects, containing links, readings, and an episode-by-episode critique of TURN through True or False Quizes (one for each episode of the series).  DVD's of TURN have been released for the first 3 seasons.  The final (4th) season should be released fairly soon. 

► CENTENNIAL OF WOMEN'S SUFFRAGE IN NEW YORK STATE, 1917/2017:  U.S., N.Y.S., & LONG ISLAND PERSPECTIVES, FOR NEW YORK STATE HISTORY MONTH (NOVEMBER 2017)compiled, edited, & rev. by Mark Rothenberg (10/20/17)

  Long Island Participation in World War One:  Subject Guide to Resources in Patchogue-Medford Library's Celia M. Hastings Local History Room [September-October 2017]

► A Walking Tour of Patchogue-Medford Library History , rev. ed., mobile device version, with clickable map (Celia M. Hastings Local History Room, 9/22/17)

► A Walking Tour of Patchogue-Medford Library History, printable version (Celia M. Hastings Local History Room, updated 10/25/17)

 HISPANIC AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH, SEPTEMBER 15-OCTOBER 15, 2017comp. & ed by Mark Rothenberg (Patchogue-Medford Library.  Celia M. Hastings Local History Room)

  Subject Guide to Materials on Long Island Indians in Patchogue-Medford Library's Celia M. Hastings Local History Room, comp. by Mark Rothenberg, 8-22-17 (PML.  The Room)

  Subject Guide to Material on Long Island Ethnohistory in Patchogue-Medford Library's Celia M. Hastings Local History Room, comp. by Mark Rothenberg, 8-23-17 (PML.  The Room)

► Watergate @ 50:  A Short Look Back

►  "Summer of Love," June-August 1967:  Some Headlines [from Newsday, 50 years ago]

► A Walking Tour of Patchogue-Medford Library History  (Celia M. Hastings Local History Room, 6/17, rev. 9/17)

►  Local History:  Some Recently Released PML Web Pages (2/23/17)

►  Women's History Month, March 2017:  Women's Suffrage on L.I., in NYC, NYS, & on the National Stage; and Some Women's History Month Websites  (2/21/17)

► The NAACP on Long Island (A February 2017, Black History Month, Offering (2/17) -- Includes some books, websites, and newspaper articles representing the early years of NAACP activity on L.I., 1928-1959  

"LI/NYS GenBib,":   Long Island & New York State Genealogical Resources in the Celia M. Hastings Local History Room,as well as Selected Links from the PML Local History Website  (rev. & exp., 1/17) 

A Few Notes

The "History Pages" (upper left column), generally proceed downwardn from the state to local level.  They offer classified links to information on a variety of topics, as well as links to web pages on additional major local history subtopics and themesrelated to the geographic area that you've chosen.  

The basic geographic web pages, and their subsidiary web pages generally include full-text, searchable classic histories, collections of public documents, occasional genealogical works (e.g., records of births, marriages, deaths), digitized material from PML collections, or providing links to local history works in other attributed  collections, and related Patchogue-Medford Library Catalog and Vertical File samplers.  

Local Geography's Sliding Scale:  Many works that appear at one level of geography relate to and support works at other levels.  State histories often have material relating to counties, regions, towns, cities or even villages within the state. Or, in reverse, when village histories fail to provide what you seek, try the appropriate town, county, and state sources.  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 works or 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 the PML Local History Website Summary Sheet (1-page) of our Local History web pages & their satellite pages  (Rev., 2/21/17)  

►  Local History Room Picture Window Displays and Exhibits (as of 7/317):   A Bit of Your Library's History (recently given to the Greater Patchogue Historical Society, for display in the Carnegie Library)  -- A Quick Look at Digital PML (historical photos, documents, maps,  postcards, and books online).  -- On the Door:  A 1-page Summary of our Local History Website (rev. 2/22/17); NYS Vital Records Index (historical NYS births, marriages, and deaths microfiche, which is located in the Genealogy alcove); A Really Brief History of the Patchogue, then Patchogue-Medford Library; free Local History Room and Digital PML bookmarks.   Greater Patchogue Historical Society forthcoming program announcements are posted on the door, as they are received.  In a plastic pocket, next to the door, is their Historical Map and Guide of Patchogue (which is free, and includes 80 points of interest in the area).  It may also be obtained from the Greater Patchogue Chamber of Commerce or from the Historical Society, itself.    

►  A Few of the Free Handouts, Available Inside the Room:   Researching Your House.  -- Medford:  The Early Years, 1844-1944. -- Patchogue:  A Brief History.  -- Records of  Men from Patchogue and Vicinity Who Took Part in the World War:  A World War One Veterans' Survey.  -- The Library Story, 2nd edition.

►  Click here to discover Who Uses a Local History Collection?  (2nd edition)

► Click here for A Guide to Localizing Dewey, for Long Island Use  (Revised, exp. edition)

► 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  (currently being revised)

► For more information contact:  Mark Rothenberg, Local History Liaison mrothenberg@pmlib.org or (631) 654-4700, ext. 240


► 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.