2015 Progress Report

New Website Look

It goes without saying that the biggest news (and something you’ve by no doubt figured out already!) is that our website received a makeover this spring. This was part of a county-wide effort to migrate to the latest web software. We appreciate your patience as Archives’ staff learns to work with the new software, but we’ll be up to speed soon. Some of the exciting features of this new look are that our Facebook and Twitter feed are now included on our home page (making it even easier to follow both), as well as features that will rotate from the home page. But don’t worry, finding our personal name indexes, how to order a record, our Reading Room location and hours, and our contact information are still only a click or two away. 

Additions to the Website

As mentioned in our January 2015 update, we have now added our 10th personal name index to the Archives’ website – the Professional Registers index. Check this out if you have a Westchester ancestor who may have registered with the County Clerk’s office during the early to middle part of the 20th century in order to practice their trade. Our dedicated volunteers have also been hard at work continuing to add names to the Surrogates, Naturalizations and Jail Blotter books indexes. We are up to 70,000 names in the Surrogate records database, 143,600 naturalization records indexed, and over 6,000 Jail Blotter records available online.  

Newly Processed Collections

We were again very fortunate to have the ranks of our Volunteers in Archives (VIA) program swelled during the summer months with a number of hard-working interns. These college and graduate students assisted in all areas of the Archives’ work, just as our volunteers do – data entry, scanning, and processing records. In combination with the work of Archives’ staff we all have accomplished a great deal already this year, including:  

Government Publications: This collection has been updated by a graduate student intern to include recently published materials by all Westchester County departments. Look here for departmental annual reports, informational bulletins, budgets, newsletters, program flyers and any other type of county government publication.

Indexes to Park and Parkway Deeds, 1912-1970: 3 bound volumes, one for Bronx River Parkway deeds (maintained by the Bronx Parkway Commission, 1912-1924) and two for all other parkland and parkways (maintained by the Westchester County Park Commission, 1923-1970). The Bronx Parkway volume is arranged by deed number, although there is a small section without deed numbers for those parcels obtained through condemnation proceedings. The originals of the deeds that these volumes index are located in Series 350.

Parks Department: Director of Management Planning and Property Records, 1951, 1966-1989 (bulk mid-1970s-early 1980s): Files maintained by/for Director of Management Planning and Property for the Westchester County Parks Department, John Yoegel. Includes internal county correspondence and memoranda and well as with members of the public, municipal officials and legal representatives of property owners regarding variety of issues dealing with county land, including land ownership questions, encroachment issues, maintenance issues, permits and licenses for use, ownership transfer, and residual properties. Handwritten notes, phone message slips, charts, reports, maps and plans are also include in the collection. There are also two subseries with minutes and background materials for meetings of the County’s Real Estate Committee (1976-1985 gaps) and the County’s Parks, Recreation and Conservation Board (1974-1984 gaps?). These meetings often discuss topics covered by folders located elsewhere in the collection.

Planning Department Commissioner Records – Peter Q. Eschweiler, 1914-1998 (1967-1991 bulk): Immediately upon his retirement in 1991 as Westchester County’s Commissioner of Planning and again in 2000, Peter Eschweiler transferred records from his time in government service to the Westchester County Archives. The bulk of these records cover his tenure as Planning Commissioner (1969-1991) although a few predate even his years with the Planning Department in general (pre-1960). The materials in the collection range from informal notes to final publications, including many reports prepared by third-party consultants, and are arranged alphabetically into sixteen subseries.

Parks Department: Bronx River Parkway Records, 1924-1977, 1980-2003 (bulk late 1920s-early 1970s): Files maintained by the Westchester County Park Commission [and its successor the Westchester County Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation] regarding matters affecting the Bronx River Parkway and Bronx River Reservation. A small portion of the collection (dating from 1980 to 2003) were added by representatives of the Westchester County Real Estate Office, during their use of the original files. The collection begins with a group of correspondence, in chronological order, filed under the “general” category; some of the earliest correspondence in the general group are from Jay Downer, chief engineer and secretary to the Bronx Parkway Commission. More specific topics in the collection include files on specific rental house properties located on reservation property – often from their earliest tenants through their ultimate demolition in the 1960s; the White Plains Bus Terminal (located on reservation property); and the Westchester County Center (also located on reservation property – including documentation for the initial transfer of the land for the site to the County for $1). The bulk of the rest of the files also cover land use, land exchanges, easements, and rental matters. There are many copies of leases for land use located in the various files.

Board of Supervisors – Charter Revision Committee, 1922-1984 (bulk 1951-1969): Records of the Westchester County Charter and Administrative Code Revision Committee focusing mainly on Parks and Recreation matters, particularly the merging of the Westchester County Parks and Recreation Commissions. The collection includes Recreation and Parks & Parkway Subcommittee reports, as well as reports from the Charter and Administrative Code Revision Committee. In addition to the reports, there are correspondences and memos about the Recreation Commission. The collection also includes the County Charter Administrative Code and amendments to the charter, as well as several newspapers clippings about the Board of Supervisors. Finally there are reports from other communities, such as Philadelphia and Los Angeles about their recreation and parks departments, and copies of the local government handbook and proceedings of the County Government Commission.

What’s Next?

Several collections are being processed at this time, hopefully to make their debut by the end of 2015 or early 2016. These include property records of the office of the County’s Real Estate director, records from the administrations of County Executives Alfred Del Bello and Andrew O’Rourke, and records of the County Board of Health.