Local History

General Information | Manuscripts and Oral History | Periodicals | Newspapers | County Censuses | City Directories | Library Catalog | Other Local Resources

"We do NOT know the past in chronological sequence...what we know we know by ripples and spirals eddying out from us and our own time."
Ezra Pound - U.S. poet

Penfield Library has a wealth of material in local history. The Circulating and Reference collections offer numerous books and monographs on the history of both Oswego City and County. The Serials Collection adds to this wealth with many local newspapers on microfilm. The Special Collections area, located in the basement of the Library, has the most extensive collection of local history materials, including locally produced manuscripts, photographs, and maps. This area is open during the semesters and summers on a limited basis. Please check the Special Collections Hours page or submit a Special Collections Inquiry to ask about open times and how to make a special appointment.

All materials cited below can be found in either the Reference, Circulating or Special Collections areas. Please inquire at the Research Help Desk if items cannot be found.

Ref = Reference Collection - First floor
Circ = Circulating Collection - Third floor
Spec Coll = Special Collections - Basement

General Information

Regional History
  • Landon, Harry Fey. The North Country; A History (Central New York). 1932. Circ F 119 L28
  • Scramm, Henry W. Central New York: A Pictorial History. 1987. Spec Coll F 120 S34 1987
County History
  • Johnson, Crisfield. History of Oswego County, New York 1877 (reprint 1991). Ref F 127 O91 J6
  • Faust, Ralph Milligan. The Story of Oswego County. 1987. Circ F 127 O91 F33
  • Churchill, John C. Landmarks of Oswego County.1895. Ref F 127 O91 C56
  • Slosek, Anthony M. Oswego County New York in the Civil War. Spec Coll F 127 O91 S61964
  • Wellman, Judith M. Landmarks of Oswego County. 1988. Ref F 127 O91 L36
  • The Underground Railroad in Oswego County
  • In and About Oswego. No date. Circ F 129 O7 I45

Image of local furniture Shop

History of Cities and Towns

  • Slosek, Anthony M. Stories of Old Oswego. 1982. Circ F 129 O91 S7
  • Slosek, Anthony M. Oswego: Its People and Events. 1985. Spec Coll F 129 O7 S59
  • Snyder, Charles McCool. Oswego, From Buckskins to Bustles. 1968. Circ F 129 O7 S65
  • Oswego Centennial Committee. Oswego: A City for a Century, 1848-1948. 1948. Spec Coll F 129 O7 O86
  • Fulton, New York: its Business Advantages and Home Attractions Set ForthBriefly with pen and Camara. 1901. Spec Coll F 129 F9 F96
  • Lynch, Grace. The Way it Used to Be (Fulton). 1980. Spec Coll F 129 F9 L9
  • Simpson, Elizabeth M. Mexico: The Mother of Towns. 1949. Spec Coll F 129 M63 S55
  • Phoenix, New York and Vicinity. Spec Coll F 129 P45
  • Sturge, Gordon W. Hannibal's Historical Highlights. 1949. Spec Coll F 129 H24 S9
  • "Grip's" Historical Souvenir of Phoenix, Mexico, and Pulaski. 1904. Spec Coll F 129 M63 W4

Special Topics in Oswego History

Eighteenth Century
  • Cooper, Johnson Gaylord. Oswego in the French-English Struggle in North America, 1720-1760. 1961.Spec Coll F 127 O91 C77
Nineteenth Century
  • Parsons, David K. Bugles Echo Across the Valley: Northern Oswego County and the Civil War. 1994. F 129 O7 P267
  • Slosek, Anthony M. Oswego: Hamlet Days 1796-1829.1980. Spec Coll F 129 O91 S63
  • Slosek, Anthony M. Oswego and the War of 1812. 1989. Circ F 129 O7 S585
  • Wellman, Judith M. The Burned-over District Revisited: Benevolent Reform and Abolitionism in Mexico, Paris, and Ithaca, New York. 1974. Spec Coll BR 555 N7 W4(7/3)
  • 147th NY Infantry Regiment during the Civil War
  • History of 147th NY Volunteers
Twentieth Century
  • McBride, Robert Bruce. Prohibition in Oswego, New York, 1920-1933. 1973. Spec Coll AS 36 .N7 O7 1973 no. 44(7/4)
  • Gruber, Ruth. Haven: The Unknown Story of 1000 World War II Refugees. 1984. Circ D 809 U5 G78
  • Lowenstein, Sharon R. A New Deal for Refugees: The Promise and Reality of Oswego. 1985. Circ D 810 J4 L6
  • Lowenstein, Sharon R. Token Refuge: The Story of the Jewish Refuge Shelter at Oswego, 1944-1946. 1986. Circ HV 640.5 J4 L68
Religious and Church History
  • Taylor, Mary Christine. A History of the Foundations of Catholicism in Northern New York. 1976. Circ BX 1415 N7 T39
  • Boigeol, Mildred T. History of Episcopalians in Oswego. 1976. Spec Coll BX 5617 O7 C5
  • Christ Church. One Hundred Twenty-fifth Anniversary of Christ Church. 1947. Spec Coll BX 5980 O7 C54
  • Congregational Church. The Golden Jubilee of the Congregational Church. 1907. Spec Coll BX 7255 O7 C7
  • Oswego, N.Y. Saint John the Evangelist Church. Centennial History, 1869-1969. 1970. Spec Coll BX 4603 O7 S26
  • Oswego, N.Y. Saint Mary's Church. Memorial Book of St. Mary's Church. 1927. Spec Coll BX 4603 O7 S32
  • St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church. 100th Anniversary 1855-1955. Spec Coll BX 8076 O7 S7
  • Fulton, N.Y. First Baptist Church. A History of the Seventy-five Years of the First Baptist Church of Fulton, New York. 1902. Spec Coll BX 6480 F96 H6
Maritime and Economic History
  • Pound, Arthur. Lake Ontario. 1945. Circ F 556 P6
  • Finn, J. Leo. Old Shipping Days in Oswego. 1960. Circ HE 767 O7 F5
  • Reich, Larry. The Bay of Dead Ships. Circ F556 R35 1993
  • Zercher, Frederick K. The Economic Development of the Port of Oswego. 1935. Spec Coll HE 554 07 Z58
Folklore and Stories
  • Davis, Charles F. All Arround Our Town. Circ F 129 07 D37
  • Davis, Charles F. And So the Irish Built a Church. 1975. Circ F 129 07 D373
  • Gately, Susan Peterson. Sweet Waters: Stories of Lake Ontario. Circ F 556 G75 1998
Primary Sources of Interest
  • The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents, Travles and Explorations of the Jesuit Missionaries in New France 1610-1791. 1954. Circ F 1030.7 Z896
  • Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of New York. 1853-1887. Ref F 122 D66
  • The Papers of Sir William Johnson. 1921. Circ E 195 J62
  • Public Papers of George Clinton, First Governor of New York. 1777-1795, 1801-1804. Circ E 263 N6 N56
  • Ecclesiastical Records, State of New York. 1901-1916. Spec Coll BR 555 N7 A3
  • Congressional Hearings on the Committee on Immigration and Naturalization. Investigations of Problems Presented by Refugees at Fort Ontario Refugee Shelter. 1945. Spec Coll D 809 U5 A5 1945c
  • The Varian Fry Papers: The Fort Ontario Emergency Refugee Shelter Papers. 1990. Ref D 809 U5 C726
  • Token Shipment (Oswego Comp): War Refugee Board "Summary Report" Spec Coll D 810 J4 T646
  • Token Shipment: The Story of America's War Refugee Shelter. Spec Coll JV 6601 R4 U55

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Manuscripts and Oral History

Special Collections also has numerous manuscripts and a definitive Oral History collection of over 300 taped interviews of significant men and women from the Oswego region. To locate oral history tapes search the Library Catalog for the series "Oral History Tapes." Then modify your resulting list by subject, etc.


Citations and abstracts to journal articles on local history can be found in the online research database America: History and Life. This online index is available to SUNY Oswego staff and students from the Library's web page when they use their campus computer accounts. The Oswego County Historical Society Publication Index (1937-1977), also online, but accessible to the public, is another reference tool that offers citations to the locally published history journal. The Oswego County Historical Society journal can be found on the third floor in the Circulating Collection under the call number F 127 O91 O9.


Our most complete collection of Oswego's newspapers is on microfilm in Penfield Library's Periodical Collection on the second floor. The newspapers date from 1819 to the present, and are kept in chronological order under the various titles, all of which start with "Oswego." Some regional historic, digital newspaper repositories include indexed .pdf files of old 19th and 20th century newspapers for Oswego, Pulaski and Fulton. These are the first sites to use in seeking newspaper articles on specific subjects or to browse a newspaper for a certain date. Penfield's Regional News - Current and Historical list is a good place to find out what area newspapers are available electronicaly or on microfilm, and what volumes are indexed. For more information inquire at the Library's Special Collections or the Research Help Desk.

County Censuses

The Oswego County Census, which lists county statistical information from each decade from 1790 to present, is on microfilm and located in the Microfilm collection, 2nd Floor. Name indexes of family surnames listed in the censuses can be found in bound volumes on top of the microfilm cabinet.

City Directories and Telephone Books

The Special Collections area contains largely complete runs, in both microfiche and microfilm, of the city directories and telephone books of Oswego dating from 1859 to the present.

Library Catalog

Stop by the Research Help Desk if you want help doing a search on the Library Catalog. Call 315-312-4267 or email askalibrarian@oswego.edu.

Other Local Resources

  • Oswegohistorian.org
  • Oswego County Historian (315-349-8460)
    (For deeds, assessment records, manuscripts, and census reports)
  • Oswego School District Public Library (315-341-5867)
  • Oswego County Historical Society (315-343-1342)
  • Fort Ontario (315-343-4711)
  • H. Lee White Maritime Museum (315-342-0480)
  • Heritage Foundation (315-342-3354)
    (Architectural preservation society)
  • Various local public libraries and historical societies
    (Like those in Fulton, Mexico, Pulaski, etc.)
  • A list of local historians is available in Special Collections for further inquiries into local history sources and activities.

Other library guides which may be of assistance in your research on this area include:
College History
Emergency Refugee Shelter at Fort Ontario: Jewish Haven at Oswego, NY (pdf file)
Genealogical Resources of Penfield Library (pdf file) - an extensive guide also kept at the Information Desk (Ref CS 44 V57 1998)
Mary E. Walker, MD (Bibliography-pdf file)


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