Subject Guides

Local History Resources

A guide to local history resources in Binghamton University Libraries' Special Collection

Guide Contents

Special Collections Librarian

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Jeremy Dibbell
Special Collections, Bartle Library

This page is to guide the researcher in understanding the contents of the local history materials in the Binghamton University Libraries' Special Collections.

Local History Resources focus on the history of Broome County and surrounding areas and offers a variety of materials. Contained within this resource are materials such as postcards, oral histories, ephemera, artifacts, records of organizations, Civil War letters and diaries, and printed material.

For more information see the Special Collections page

Types of Resources

Archival collections are created or received by a person, family, or organization, public or private, in the conduct of their affairs and preserved because of the enduring value contained in the information they contain or as evidence of the functions and responsibilities of their creator.  Archival collections contain many different types of materials such as documents, photographs, memorabilia and artifacts, audiovisual materials, such as sound recordings, films, and videos.

  • Binghamton Local History Postcard Collection
    Available through Find it!   In the Search anything box type Binghamton Local History Postcard collection

The Local History Resources include books, VHS and DVDs that cover the following topics:

  • Architecture
  • Board of Supervisors Proceedings
  • Broome County Medical Society reference material
  • Church Histories
  • City Directories of Broome County and other counties 1869-1972
  • Civil War related
  • Genealogy material
  • Histories of Binghamton, Johnson City, Endicott and other municipalities within Broome county
  • Histories of Broome County
  • Histories of businesses and industries
  • Histories of counties and municipalities outside of Broome County
  • Proceeding of the Common Council (City of Binghamton) 1875-1977
  • Yearbooks from local high schools


Searching for these resources in the Library catalog website

Follow these steps:

Step 1:  On the Libraries’ website, click Our Catalog and the click on Advanced Search below Search box

Step 2:  For material type, select Books or Videos

Step 3:  Enter your search terms, for example, Binghamton, New York and churches   

Step 4:  Click Search

Step 5:  Click on the Library/Collection drop down and select Special Collections


Plat Maps

A plat map is a document drawn to scale, showing the divisions of a piece of land. It gives the legal descriptions of pieces of real property by lot, street, and block number. It shows the land as subdivided into lots showing the location and boundaries of individual parcels with the streets, alleys, easements, and rights of use over the land of another. Usually a plat map is drawn after the property has been described by some other means, such as a government survey. Once a plat map is prepared, property descriptions are defined by referring to the appropriate map.


Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps

Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps were created to help insurance companies determine the potential risks when underwriting fire insurance policies for buildings. These maps contain detailed information about buildings. Today they are utilized for historical research, social and cultural history, researching the built environment, historic preservation, urban planning and genealogical research. 


They are organized as follows:

  • a decorative title page

  • an index of streets and addresses

  • a ‘specials’ index with the names of churches, schools, businesses etc.

  • and a master index indicating the entirety of the mapped area and the sheet numbers for each large-scale map (usually depicting four to six blocks)

  • general information such as population, economy and prevailing wind direction

The maps include:

  • composition of building including:

    • building use (sometimes even particular room uses)

    • names of most public buildings, churches and businesses

    • house and block number

    • property boundaries

    • outlines of each building and outbuilding

    • the framing, flooring, and roofing materials

    • the location of windows and doors

    • indications of sprinkler systems

    • fire walls

  • street names

  • street and sidewalk widths

  • natural features (rivers, etc.)

  • railroad corridors

  • locations of fire hydrants

  • location of water and gas mains

​​​​​​​Who/Why Uses:

Historical research

  • facilitate the study of urban growth and decline patterns

  • to study historic urban planning designs

  • to study historical evolution of buildings, including their historic uses and building materials in conservation and rehabilitation efforts

  • to study the evolution of historic sites and districts

  • to study patterns of growth and migration of populations

  • to locate the residences and workplaces of ancestors

Digital Sanborn Maps available from the Library of Congress



Atlas Maps

  • Include a collection of maps

  • Provides names of property owners

  • Includes street names

  • Includes wards

  • Tracts of land and name of tract

  • Has a business directory

The local newspapers are in three formats -  original documents, microfilm, and online.  The original documents are housed in Special Collections and the microfilm is located in the Newcomb Reading Room.


A selection of periodicals from local businesses, industry and organizations.