In the 1920s, the American Museum of Natural History donated 1,700 glass Lantern Slides and another 300 larger glass plate negatives taken by famous photographer William Thompson Howell for the Palisades Interstate Park Commission. These archival images are now available online at the Southeastern New York Library Resource Council’s Hudson River Valley Heritage website www.hrvh.org. The PIPC has worked with Hudson MicroImaginging in digitizing about 2,000 of these archival images.
Both collections are unique and interesting. The glass plates negatives represent natural scenes in the Hudson Highlands and depict the people who lived here in the early 1900s. Howell’s black and white images portray the landscape and how the people lived before the development of Rockland and Orange Counties. Lantern Slides are the original PowerPoint. Lecturers would prepare a number of these slides, which were often colored by hand, into a presentation on a particular topic. During their talks, they would hold the slide to a lantern to project the image onto a white wall or screen–thus, lantern slides. The PIPC collection of lantern slides contains a wide range of topics including natural history, astronomy, local history, the Revolutionary War, Trailside Museums and the first nature trails, scenery from all across the United States and much more.
This project was made possible through the generosity of the Austen-Stokes Ancient Americas Foundation.