THE BISSELL ROOM
The reading and research facilities at the Newcomb Historical Museum have more than tripled in the last four years, and our collection numbers have increased, while pre-existing collections have gained greater substance. We are, indeed, appreciative of the many thoughtful and generous donors who have supported both our preservation and interpretive missions.
The Bissell Reading Room is a recent addition. In a quiet atmosphere for both readers and researchers, visitors can use library desks, laptop computers, and printers. Below is a brief description of some of the materials that are available in the stacks of the Bissell Room. With advance notice or during a follow-up visit, staff members can provide additional materials to a researcher as requested, such as rare historical documents or maps kept in storage.
ADIRONDACK BOOK COLLECTION
We have selected some of our more popular Adirondack books for placement on the current bookshelves, including several biographies of Theodore Roosevelt and multiple bound volumes from the Roosevelt Wildlife Station (Huntington Forest/ESF). Please feel free to ask for help for your specific area of interest. Many genealogical references, for example, can be made available upon request.
ADIRONDACK LIFE MAGAZINE
The Museum has almost all issues of the Adirondack Life magazines available for research or browsing.
ACCESS TO ANCESTRY.COM SUBSCRIPTION AND NYS HISTORIC NEWSPAPERS
The Bissell Reading Room has computers reserved for research and genealogy work. Our international subscription to Ancestry.com, for example, is accessible for all users, whether you are an experienced or novice genealogist. As part of that expanded subscription, you can access historical military records through FOLD3. The Bissell Reading Room provides the setting for independent work or, if you choose, assistance from a staff member. If you are looking for historical events or people who might have been written about in New York newspapers, that search engine is “ready to go” on all our computers.
If you come into the museum looking for family information connected to Newcomb and this general area, starting with the large red notebooks identified as Family Files is probably a good idea. We update these regularly as donors provide information or as we find it. Some copies of municipal reports are filed in these pages. Occasionally a copy of an obituary is also included. At the conclusion of the family files are three notebook-sized supplements begun recently: 1) Engagements & Wedding Announcements, 2) From the Archives, and 3) “Newcomb News”: Articles from the 60s, 70s, and 80s.
To assist families and genealogists, we have organized three file drawers of alphabetically organized copies of obituaries of former Newcomb residents and family members. Some appeared in historic newspapers; others are more recent.
More than 16,000 scanned and provided in large blue notebooks available in the Bissell Reading Room. The research on these photographs is an ongoing process of identifying and categorizing into collections and populating into Past Perfect, a museum software for future publication. The largest number are from the National Lead Mine (1941-1979) and the village of Tahawus, but others represent various people, businesses, and homes from the Upper Works, Newcomb, and Adirondac. The images were taken from a variety of sources, including many negative types, tintypes, plate glass, old photographs, and even some drawings. Each of the images scanned has undergone a professionally archived process, ending with our archivist placing it safely in protective layers of storage. The original negative or source image will now survive as a numbered, preserved, and retrievable part of our Photography Collection.
For your perusal in the Bissell Reading Room is a full collection of Tahawus Cloudsplitter with monthly news from the mine’s departments, noteworthy local events, and photographs by Stanley LaLonde, National Lead’s official photographer. In the bookshelf, you can also find a rare Shutterfly book donated by the environmental engineer who photographed and documented the mine’s last days.
For your viewing pleasure and for their research potential, the museum has shelved copies of Newcomb Central School yearbooks as early as 1947. Prior to 1947, the school newspapers were mimeographed copies printed with the name “The Echo,” and the museum has annual copies of those from 1935 through 1947. These school newspapers, however, are too fragile to be stored in the Bissell Reading Room, but we hope eventually to have these available for reading in protected formats.