High school yearbooks are one form of history that records everyone when they graduate from high school. They, and their community, are frozen at a point in time that the yearbook captures and keeps. Haircuts, clothes, friends, teachers – they are all captured as they were, not as we choose to remember them or tell our children they were back in the good old days. The class pictured in this yearbook – their yearbook, the Libertas yearbook for 1964 – was born just after World War II ended, and had come of age at a time when Liberty, as one of the hubs of the “Borscht Circuit”, was near its peak (although few, if anyone, in this class at the time of their graduation, had any inkling that things in their home town were not going to get better and better.)
For a few things did get better. We like to track the career of Alan Gerry, the Liberty entrepreneur who built the Cablevision empire and who was the foundation of the arts center in Bethel commemorating the Woodstock festival (as well as many other good works throughout Sullivan County) from year to year. In 1964 his business is “Alan Gerry’s TV & Appliance Co.” while it had been “Store” in the previous year’s Libertas. Was he thinking bigger? In the photo in the ad, a young man with a crew cut is holding a 12 string guitar – a bit of disruptive technology in the music world, and not something one would have seen in Liberty two years earlier. Who knew? Would these well-scrubbed Liberty kids eventually would be in enthusiastic attendance at that Woodstock festival Gerry subsequently memorialized?
In Asia, while this class was receiving their diplomas in Liberty, things were ramping up. Although it would be nearly a year before conventional US forces were deployed in Vietnam, the Special Forces and Military Advisors were already at work when this class graduated. Still, few in this class had focused on that part of the world.
In terms of real change in Liberty, perhaps most important was that this class was the first to graduate from the new Liberty Central School on upper Buckley Street. They kicked the envelope by choosing white and yellow for their class colors, and created a yearbook that would stick out like a sore thumb in a stack of Libertas of previous years that tended to run to maroon and silver for their color schemes.
Bob Dylan’s second album, The Times They Are A Changing, had been out for a bit over two months when this class walked down the aisle for the first-ever graduation in the Buckley Street building. Yes, the times were indeed changing, but in ways that few if any realized.
To go directly to our Liberty, NY page, where, if you are so inclined, you can buy and download the Libertas yearbook for 1964, simply CLICK HERE.
The Libertas yearbook for 1963, from Liberty Central School, in Liberty, Sullivan County, New York, is another in the series we have been publishing from that school. Of course, it’s not “just” a high school yearbook, it is also an item of New York State history, and now it is once again available.
High school yearbooks are one form of history that records everyone when they graduate from high school. They, and their community, are frozen at a point in time that the yearbook captures and keeps. Haircuts, clothes, friends, teachers – they are all captured as they were, not as we choose to remember them or tell our children they were back in the good old days. The class pictured in this yearbook – their yearbook – was born at the end of World War II, and had come of age at a time when Liberty, as one of the hubs of the “Borscht Circuit”, was near its peak (although few, if anyone, in this class had any inkling that things in their home town were not going to get better and better.)
For some it did get better, and quite a bit better at that! As an example, Alan Gerry, the Liberty entrepreneur who built the Cablevision empire and who was the foundation of the arts center in Bethel commemorating the Woodstock festival (as well as many other good works throughout Sullivan County), is mentioned in these pages as “Alan Gerry’s TV & Appliance Store” among the advertisers. Who knew? And how many of these well-scrubbed Liberty kids eventually would be in enthusiastic attendance at that very Woodstock festival, for that matter?
In Asia, while this class was receiving their diplomas in Liberty, the United States was beginning to get seriously involved in what became the Vietnam war – but who in this graduating class realized that this war and its social manifestations on the home front would shape the nation for the next half century and more? Who had any sense that the shiny new high school currently under construction on upper Buckley Street would be graduating seniors who looked far different from this class in not so many years, and that Grossinger’s would be gone, along with most of the resort industry and most of the tax base that financed Liberty Central School in 1964?
Yes, there is emphatically some history in this yearbook, the Libertas yearbook for 1963 – and particularly in this one yearbook in the long series of Libertas. We think it is emphatically to the credit of the editors of this yearbook that they seized upon the fact that this was the 50th graduating class from Liberty High School (at this time, Liberty Central School) and projected the sense of history that this anniversary merited, if for that reason alone.
Included in these four downloads are two Neversink excerpts from larger publications of ours, Child’s Gazetteer of Sullivan County, and Quinlan’s History of Sullivan County. Some people have mentioned to us that these excerpts are easier to handle than the file representing the full book, and that they are happy to have them available to work with in this form. They’re short enough to print out, if you are more comfortable working from paper (as many of us secretly are!)
And, if you haven’t looked at our Neversink offerings recently, you might want to take a peek anyway — we have several items that we’ve added since the CD-ROM first came out that may be of interest to you. (Needless to say, we do hope you will check out these four Neversink downloads while you are there!)
We’re delighted to bring you yet another yearbook from Liberty Central School in Liberty, New York — the Libertas for 1967.
If you know the area — Sullivan County, NY, the Borscht Circuit, the Catskills — you can juxtapose the year and the fate that befell the area after the resort industry declined and virtually vanished. The fact that Sullivan County is now in a rapid upswing doesn’t diminish the depths to which it was to sink in the latter half of the 20th century.
Yet it’s obvious from the happy faces of this crop of graduates that none of this was even remotely on their radar at the time they graduated. Yes, the Vietnam War was ramping up; yes, there were troubles brewing, but this class looks as happy as we have seen a graduating class look.
Several years ago, we re-published a real classic,
Since then, free downloads of that volume have become available. We we could see that there wasn’t much point of keeping the CD-ROM in our catalog, and that it might be a disservice to our customers to ask them to pay for something that they could have had for free elsewhere. Hence, we discontinued the CD-ROM. (If you would like to find a free version — and Quinlan is absolutely THE go-to source on early Sullivan County — here’s a good place to download it for free.)(You’ll find the image quality of the free version isn’t as good as ours, but free is free!)
There is one big problem with Quinlan’s History regardless of what version you use. It has no index. Of course, creating indexes was as difficult and time-consuming back when Quinlan wrote his history as it is today (maybe more so — we at least can use a computer in our indexing process), so we cannot fault him for omitting it However, its absence is a lasting defect. We decided that we could add value, so we put everything else aside and indexed it ourselves. If you’d like, you can buy a copy of our index for $2.50 — CLICK HERE to go to our website.
HOWEVER, we didn’t stop there.
We decided that we could even improve on that.
When we used Quinlan, we discovered that it was difficult to correlate what was going on in one township with what was happening in other townships and the larger world outside. To help deal with this, we prepared a detailed timeline from Quinlan. We’ve included it, and we hope you find it as useful as we have.
And, sometimes, it’s nice to have some pictures to look at when you’re reading about an area. While there are very few if any Sullivan County photos available of a time before Quinlan wrote his book (circa 1872) and rather few for the next few years. So we did throw in a few postcards from the turn of the century, just for fun. We hope you enjoy them!
So, here’s the package deal:
get (1) the full text of Quinlan (our high resolution scans), with appendix, advertisements, etc., AND (2) our complete index, AND (3) the timeline, AND (4) the pictures, all for $5.00 — and you can download it in PDF format right now!
If you’re interested in Sullivan County, New York, and our Quinlan’s History of Sullivan County package sounds like a reasonably attractive proposition, visit our website and download it!
Child’s Gazetteer of Sullivan County, NY is one of only a few printed sources of Sullivan County, NY historical data contemporaneous with the time it was published. It’s generally considered essential if you’re doing anything serious with the history or genealogy of the New York county that went on, 75 years later, to become “The Borscht Circuit”.
The book includes both historical material about each township in the county, as well as the expected tables of households replete with the name of the head of household, the business they are in, and, for farmers (which most people did at least as a sideline back then) the number of acres they held. The advertisements sprinkled throughout the volume are a study in themselves. Realizing that someone’s name can appear many places in the volume, we compiled our own index of the book, something we felt was lacking and something we needed for our own purposes.
For more than a decade we have offered our scanned version of that important book on a CD-ROM, including the index we compiled of that book, for $20. As we have been phasing out our CD-ROM line, replacing it with downloads, Child’s Gazetteer came up for republication, and we’re happy to say that it’s now available as a download at a huge saving over the CD-ROM price. The download is only $4.50.
You may be wondering why we chose to republish this as a download when there are free versions of the book available online already. Here are the reasons:
Our version is high resolution page images, and you can read it easily. The free versions, sadly, are low resolution and portions are actually illegible.
Our version includes our index. The free versions lack an index.
A key part of the original book was a large fold-out map. Ours is reproduced so that it’s actually usable. Legibility is a real problem with the free versions.
(By the way, we’ve done a recent post on why we elect to republish things that are already available for free — Click HERE to read it, if you’re interested.)
If our republication of Child’s Gazetteer of Sullivan County, NY for 1872-73 is of interest to you, why not have a look at our main website. HERE’s the link directly to the page with more descriptive material and the download.
Back in August we made the momentous “CD closeout” decision — that we would discontinue selling our historical and genealogical CD-ROMs, and gradually migrate the contents of our CDs to downloads.
Well, it’s been happening! We’ve eliminated around a dozen of our CDs as the inventory sold out, and we’re making progress migrating their contents to download format.
There have been three positive results of the CD closeout so far:
–A number of smaller, less significant publications that were once lurking on CDs with little publicity are now available as individual downloads — with their own catalog entries. People can actually find them! Eventually they may even show up on Google!
–We’ve saved time and money. When you deal with physical inventory — creating the CDs, reproducing them, maintaining the inventory, and shipping them — you spend more time, effort, and money than one would think. The net result is that we have more time to spend finding more historical and genealogical material and making it available to you.
–Our customers have saved time, money, and helped avoid clutter. Saved money? Yes! When we discontinued our Canaan, CT CD ($20) we replaced it with three downloads. If you bought all three, you would barely spend half that. And we doubt many people will buy all three. The clutter speaks for itself — we never devised a perfect way for storing CDs of our own so we could find things when we needed them, and it’s easy to store downloads on your hard drive. And time: we figure that it costs us two or three minutes each time we need to put a CD in and wait for it to crank up, and then to go through it to find what we want, and we suspect it was wasting your time too. Furthermore, downloads arrive instantaneously. CDs come by postal mail. Enough said about that!
We do have some CDs left in inventory. We’ll continue to sell them until they’re gone. Here’s what left:
If one of these matches your research interests, we do advise you to act now. Once the CDs are gone, the material on them goes into the queue awaiting republication as downloads. There, they vie for priority with the new material we’re working our way through, so it could be a year or more before material on a discontinued CD is again available. A word to the wise should be sufficient!
As always, thanks to our faithful customers. It’s you whom we do this for, and even as the CD closeout continues, it’s your needs we try to satisfy. We try never to forget that.
Introduction to Gertrude Barber’s Records of Sullivan County, NY
By Geoffrey Brown, Between the Lakes Group LLC
Astonishingly few records exist today of people who lived in Sullivan County in the old days. Consequently, genealogical and historical research has been difficult at best — and impossible at worst — in all of Sullivan County. Gertrude Barber was, almost single-handedly, responsible for much of what we do have today.
Many factors – too many to discuss here – contributed (some still contribute) to this lack of record keeping and record retention. However, due to the shortage of records, those of us who seek to research in Sullivan County are frequently driven to accept not what we would want or expect, but what is available, regardless of deficiencies.
Enter Gertrude Barber
We really do not know what motivations inspired Gertrude Barber, nor do we actually know much about the woman, who died in Brooklyn in 1974. The staff of the Department of Genealogy and Local History of the New York Public Library described her as a Brooklyn resident, who began around 1929 to collect cemetery inscriptions and church records in Sullivan County, and who continued from there to collect elsewhere in New York State.
During the summers, Ms. Barber would travel to her current locale of choice, visit the graveyards and record what she could make out of gravestone inscriptions. Soon, she expanded her project to include capturing such church records and records of wills as she was able to locate and gain access to.
It appears that she collected within Sullivan County mainly for two summers, those of 1929 and 1930. During the following winters she typed up her notes, in six carbons, in her home in Brooklyn, bringing a copy to the librarians at the New York Public Library and disseminating the other copies to other libraries that indicated an interest in them. One of the older librarians at the New York Public described to this writer her wintertime visits bringing her typescripts for them.
We first became aware of her transcriptions at the New York Public Library, and it is to them – and, of course, to Ms. Barber — that we owe a massive debt of gratitude that we have the information she transcribed in an easily accessible form today.
You can read more about Gertrude Barber and get a sense of the other New York State locations she visited and transcribed in this article about her HERE.
As grateful as we are to Gertrude Barber today for her huge contribution to genealogy in Upstate New York, there were a few deficiencies in her work that deserve mention simply to avoid raising false hopes.
First, Ms. Barber’s survey was not comprehensive. As an example, she collected the old section (the oldest, but probably the smallest section today) of the Liberty, NY cemetery, but did not do the newer portions. (To our knowledge, those much larger newer sections have not yet been collected by anyone, sadly.) She certainly overlooked other cemeteries, particularly the very small ones that one occasionally saw around the county fifty years ago that are now gone completely. In Liberty, she covered the church records to which she had access, but notably these did NOT include the principal “downtown” churches of Liberty at that time: Roman Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, and Episcopal. Finally, she either did not locate, could not gain access to, or could not read any records of what was already becoming the substantial Jewish population of the Town of Liberty, nor did she record any of the Jewish cemeteries in the county. Likely she did not know Hebrew, in which many of the stones are written, so the task would have verged on the impossible for her.
The second defect is in the records themselves and her transcription of them. First off, gravestone inscriptions can be very difficult to read if the stone has been eroded or if moss and lichens have grown over it. Of course, if the stone is broken off or buried or defaced or stolen, the data is simply missed. She mentions problems with some stones in most of the cemeteries she collected. Second, with the church records, many of the pastors or church clerks who originally recorded them had little interest in spelling. For the most part, surnames had stabilized in terms of spelling by the time the earliest of these records were originally set down, but spelling of surnames in some of the records is creative at best. Handwriting was also likely a factor here; we have not seen the original record books, so we do not really know what kind of legibility problems Ms. Barber faced.
Ms. Barber also was not a Sullivan County native — at least as far as we know she was not. Hence, she had no familiarity with the family names typical of area, and doubtless made uninformed assumptions about spellings when transcribing. Some of the German family names in the western portion of the County seem to have really given her fits.
Her technology, while typical of the era in which she worked, was not what one might have wished for. Any time you are dealing with multiple carbon copies, typed on a manual typewriter, legibility inevitably suffers. Today we easily forget just how hard it was to make corrections on six carbons when typing. The consequences today are that the characters are sometimes blurred, there are overstrikes that make letters – and occasionally strings of letters – unintelligible.
Another defect was with Ms. Barber’s indexing skills. Fortunately, this is one defect that we can do something about. While she did index some of the records for Sullivan County, we surmise that her methodology was not the greatest, and since they are not up to the standard of her data collection, in our reprints of her work we have chosen to omit her indices. Instead of including them, we have indexed many of her records in this section, and where we have done so, our index appears with our republications. When using our indexes, please be aware that we suffered with the same problems of legibility that Ms. Barber no doubt did when collecting the records. What we saw was what we indexed.
One might say from these notes that we are being very critical, perhaps even unfair to Ms. Barber, but that is not our intent. Given the limitations at hand, she did an admirable job. More important, she was the ONLY PERSON WHO APPEARS TO HAVE DONE THE JOB AT ALL!
Even with the limitations of her records, we, seventy five years after she collected this material, say “THANK YOU” to Gertrude Barber for her dedication, patience, and generosity in spending a few years creating this rare compendium of Sullivan County records for us to use today.
What we offer
We offer in download form most of the Sullivan County records that Mrs. Barber transcribed and produced in typescript form — at least those that found their way to the New York Public Library.
The Centennial Book of Liberty, NY is one of the less frequently seen documents of the history of that township. We’re indebted to Denny Birmingham for lending us her copy of this now-scarce document for copying and re-publication.
What’s in it?
First, and most obviously, there are pictures – lots of them. Most of the important building are shown, both commercial establishments and residences as well. There are photos that illustrate the original settlement on Revonah in a way that makes it comprehensible to people living today. (An interesting note here: the name of the mountain had already changed from Hanover to Revonah when this book was published – often the date of the change is assumed to coincide with anti-German sentiment during World War I.) The photos of the residences are fascinating as one tries to recognize the houses of today’s Liberty among them. Most of the photos have been seen elsewhere, but the collection is a good one.
The text is very useful since it amplifies on the early history found in Quinlan’s History, and also fills in details of the years following Quinlan’s publication in 1872. While the photos are a bit hard to relate to people today, there are also photographs of some of the leading citizens.
As mentioned, it is a modest book for a centennial volume, at least compared with some of this genre we have seen. However, we think it will be useful to anyone with an interest in Liberty today and in its past. We have compiled and included an index of the book including all names mentioned which should be helpful to those using the book for research only and not reading it through.
How to get the Centennial Book of Liberty, NY
Well, we happen to sell it as a download!
Want more information? CLICK HERE to go to the Liberty, NY page on our main website, where you can read a bit more about it and download it.
We’ve just re-published the 1942 Libertas yearbook from Liberty High School in Liberty, Sullivan County, New York.
You can be excused if your immediate response is “What? You’ve published another Liberty High School yearbook? What’s your plan? To re-publish all of them?”
To tell the truth, we wouldn’t mind re-publishing all of Liberty High’s historic yearbooks, but realism tells us that we could never possibly find copies of all of them to scan — which gets us around to why the 1942 Libertas is different and interesting.
A Wartime Yearbook
First of all, it is a wartime yearbook! Published only months after Pearl Harbor, it is still the only example from Liberty High School that we have of this genre. There are many things that this yearbook has in common with non-wartime yearbooks (it has all the usual contents, for example, including photos with names of grades seven through twelve, and abundant advertisements) but the moment you pick the original up you notice that it has a soft cover rather than the typical hardbound book cover.
Later in the war, yearbooks began to reflect a nation actively gearing to to support the war efforts. Later yearbooks included lists of students who had left high school to serve and, eventually, in memoriam pages for those who would not be returning home.
Nonetheless, this is indeed a wartime yearbook. We think it’s worth a look. You can do so, and, if you wish, purchase a download of it, on our Liberty, NY page. CLICK HERE to go directly there.