PLATTSBURGH — The rich and varied history of the City of Plattsburgh is now being displayed in a new book from the popular “Images of America” series.
Kelly Julian, the local-history librarian for Plattsburgh Public Library, recently completed a project to collect and display historic images of Plattsburgh, ranging from the city’s long-time connection with the military to its downtown, arts and industries.
“About a year and a half ago, I received a phone call from (Arcadia Publishing) asking if I had access to photographs and if I knew of someone who would be interesting in writing a book for the series,” Julian said from her library office.
She jumped at the opportunity, knowing that she had access to a strong collection of historic images and experience collecting information from primary sources.
She began perusing photographs and other historic documents from the library’s Cole Collection of Local History, named after G. Glyndon Cole, who began organizing the library’s history collection in the 1980s.
“Some are postcards; some are photographs taken by community members,” Julian said of the images she collected for the edition. “I don’t know the origin of all of the negatives, but a large part of the donated collection was done by Brush Photo Studios.”
She did not stop with the library collection but also worked with the Clinton County Historical Association and volunteer Roger Black of the Press-Republican, who has spent countless hours examining and cataloging the association’s plate-glass negative collection.
“They were terrific,” she said. “I couldn’t have done this without the help I received from them.”
With a vast array of photographic images, Julian then had to pick and choose what she thought would best represent Plattsburgh, from its early roots to the growth of the central hub of activity in northeastern New York in the 1960s.
“I wanted to make sure that each chapter expressed the defining moments of the city’s history.”
She noted that the book is not organized in chronological order but based on such periods as the city’s birth, the Battle of Plattsburgh, the development of downtown and the Lake Champlain Tercentenary.
“Our history dates back further than the invention of the photograph, so I did have to use other documents, as well,” she added.
One such document was the paperwork Zebulon Platt penned in 1784 that planted the seed for what Plattsburgh would eventually become.
Julian had to provide caption information for each image used, keeping in mind the 50-to-70-word limit the publisher required.
BOOK SIGNING SATURDAY
She first developed an interest in primary-source research as an undergraduate at Plattsburgh State. She was enrolled in an archaeology course with Dr. Gordon Pollard, who asked her and another student to conduct research on a dig they were working on in Clintonville.
“I loved it, going through those primary resources,” she said. “There’s nothing like the opportunity to read what was going on from the people who were living it.”
Arcadia Publishing has been putting out volumes of picture histories in its “Images of America” series since 1993. Several focus on the Adirondacks, as well as a number of government entities in the North Country, including Chazy, Champlain and Clinton County.
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Kelly Julian will sign copies of "The History of Plattsburgh" during an event set for 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday at the War of 1812 Museum on the Plattsburgh museum campus, 31 Washington Road, Plattsburgh. For more information, call 566-1814 or email manager@battleof plattsburgh.org.