Special Collections

Help and Research Services

Research Guide

Feinberg Library


Special Collections Featured Stories

Read Charles McNamara's article on his grandmother, Marjorie Porter, in his online magazine

 "Journalist Marjorie Porter watched the old woman’s wrinkled hands spinning yarn and listened to the tune she was quietly humming as she worked."

Read the full article in Tributary.

View the Special Collections Guide to the Porter Papers, which includes an index to the Ballad and Lore Collection and one for the photographs in the collection.


Listen to Rare Historical Recordings in Special Collections

Soundscriber equipment and discs used by Marjorie Lansing Porter to record local residents

Soundscriber discs and recorderThis collection includes recordings of...

  • Adirondack folk music;
  • oral histories from the three counties, including those by local residents born prior to the American Civil War;
  • SUNY Plattsburgh concerts;
  • a 1963 recording of Edward “Doc” Redcay on piano and Junior Barber on dobro; and
  • four-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Robert Frost reading his works.

Full news story here. 

The collection is the result of a collaborative effort by SUNY Plattsburgh Communications Professor Timothy Clukey and Feinberg Library’s Special Collections staff.


Special Collections Provides Quality Resources for Honors Class

Students discover and interpret local history

When Dr. Mark Richard, Associate Professor of History and Canadian Studies, and his Honors Seminar students embarked on a course in Discovering and Interpreting Local History, they turned to Feinberg Library's Special Collections area for resources.

The HON 138 class examined a wide variety of local history materials and presented a series of fascinating papers at the end of the spring 2009 semester.


First-year Special Education major Carrie Engel [photo, right] presented her research on Hidden Revolutionary War Heroes - individuals whom she called the "everyday Joes" of the war. Laura Perras [photo, left] discussed Canadians who served in the American Revolution, a topic that she said provided her with a wealth of dramatic material for a possible work of historical fiction.

Yuan Ru [below photo, right] discussed her research on the History of the Chinese Community in Clinton County.


web_Yuan2_1514.jpgResearch enabled students to grow as scholars

"The students all demonstrated tremendous growth over the course of the semester in their examination and interpretation of primary sources," Dr. Richard said.

"As the semester progressed, they generated better and better questions about the different types of sources we examined, and they became more actively engaged each week in using the sources to reconstruct the lives of people from the past who did not write accounts of their own lives - such as the French-Canadian migrants who settled in Plattsburgh, the Canadian refugees who settled in the North Country after the Revolutionary War, the individuals who assisted slaves in gaining their freedom through the Underground Railroad, and the Chinese migrants to Clinton County."

Course emerged from professor's research in social history

"This Honors seminar springs from my own work as a social historian. The course examines the kinds of sources and uses the same types of methodologies that I did in researching and writing my first book, Loyal but French: The Negotiation of Identity by French-Canadian Descendants in the United States (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 2008.)

Feinberg's Special Collections resources were key to student success

"Teaching the course in Special Collections was essential to its success." - Dr. Mark Richard

"Teaching the course in Special Collections was essential to its success," Dr. Richard noted.

"Each week, students needed to complete a short project that introduced them to a different primary source, and Special Collections had nearly every type of source that we investigated this semester. As a result, students were able to get their 'hands on the documents' each week.

As the students investigated different primary sources themselves, and read assigned readings on how scholars have used similar sources to reconstruct the lives of people who lived in the past, theory and practice converged."

Special Collections staff provided expert assistance

"The students became more actively engaged each week in using the sources to reconstruct the lives of people from the past who did not write accounts of their own lives." - Dr. Mark Richard

"Not only did the Special Collections librarians provide the materials that students requested, but they shared their own knowledge of the collection and of the individuals and groups the students researched, providing them with different leads and angles to consider. Their expertise significantly enriched the course and the experience of my students."


web_Mark_Richard2_1552.jpgHonors student and anthropology major Jessica Osias (far left) fields questions from Dr. Richard and fellow students, following her presentation of research on her ancestors' history.


"I'm really learning a lot about upstate New York and the North Country," said Jessica, a transfer from SUNY Stony Brook.

Other Student Presentations

Karen Braun - William Henry Miner and his Inventions
Seth Conner - The French Quarter of Plattsburgh
Jessica Peralta - Women in the Womens' Christian Temperance Union
Lyndelle Joseph - The Underground Railroad in the North Country  

Contact Special Collections at Feinberg Library

Debra Kimok
Special Collections Librarian
132 Feinberg Library
(518) 564-5206

Michael Burgess
Instructional Support Assistant
132 Feinberg Library
(518) 564-5206