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The Three Village Historical Society are stewards of an extensive archival and artifact collection representing over 2,000 years of people living in the Three Village area. Our collections contain archaeological artifact assemblages, original artwork and sketches, items related to labor trades, heirlooms of notable community members in the past, and over 900 cubic feet of archival materials from the past 400 years. Most of our historical documents largely pertain to the late eighteenth to early twentieth centuries. The TVHS also steward an historical image catalogue and land deed database. Currently, we are in the process of creating a comprehensive publicly accessible finding aid and digitizing our collections. In the meantime, we invite researchers who can benefit from our collections to contact us for archival access by submitting a research request on our website.

The History of Our Collection

The Three Village Historical Society is situated about 60 miles east from Manhattan on the north shore of Long Island. It is located in the Town of Brookhaven, Suffolk County and is comprised of the Setaukets, Stony Brook, and the incorporated villages of Old Field and Poquot. 


Indigenous communities have been on Long Island for the past 10,000 years. This history is reflected in the many archaeological sites that have been excavated in the Three Village area and the Native American community who are still here. In fact, the Society are stewards of a large 2,000-year-old archaeological lithic assemblage from the Fischetti Archaeological Site in Stony Brook, as well as Native American artifacts and oral histories from the past century. 


By 1655, English colonists began settling in this area and utilizing this land as a farming community, then later a thriving shipbuilding and seafaring center. The tree-lined streets, the well-kept village greens, and the beautifully preserved old houses, all reveal a community that cares about it’s past. 


In 1963, Captain Edward R. Rhodes, a resident of Stony Brook, recognizing the need for an organization to protect the heritage, rallied together a group of local citizens of like mind to for the Three Village Historical Society. A charter was applied for and received from New York State Board of Regents in 1964, designating the Society a not-for-profit organization, and Captain Rhodes was named the first president. By 1978, through the hard work of the leadership of the Society, large areas of the Three Villages were designated Historical Districts by the Town of Brookhaven. 


The Captain Edward R. Rhodes Memorial Collection of Local History

In 1978, The Three Village Historical Society established this Collection “to discover and collect material which may help to illustrate the history of the settlement of the Three Villages” and “to provide for the preservation of such materials and its accessibility insofar as may be feasible to all who wish to examine and study it”. The Collection was named to honor the founder of the Society. The first archivist for the Society was Maggie Gillie. 


An agreement was made between the Trustees of the Society and the Trustees of the Emma S. Clark Memorial Library, Setauket, to house and administer the Collection in the library and to provide space for the Local History Committee, its volunteers, and staff. Since then, the archival collection has been moved to a different area of the library and accessible only by appointment. The Collection is owned by the Society, which gathers, accessions, catalogs, and preserves the materials. 


The dedication of the Collection was held in March 1983, when it was opened to the public for research and study. Over 8,000+ documents and 3,000+ photographs have been catalogued and stored in special acid-free folders and boxes, according to accepted archival standards. All of the holdings are gifts from local families and organizations. We continuous seek the acquisition of local historical materials that may become available in the future in order to add to the collection, thereby enhancing its value as the historical memory of the community. 

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