The Dennis Historical Society’s library, “The Pauline (Wixon) Derick Library” was formerly located at the Josiah Dennis Manse Museum, in a very cramped space on the lower floor of one wing. In November, 2009, it was moved to the second floor of the West Dennis Public Library, in more spacious quarters.
The library consists of collections of books, manuscripts, photographs, scrapbooks and other ephemera, related to the Town of Dennis and the mid-Cape area. Digital copies, exclusive of the books, are available for most of the items in the collection, including the photographs, for those researching families and historical events. While the library’s collections are not for circulation outside of the West Dennis Public Library’s building, they are available for research in a spacious and comfortable atmosphere, which is fully handicap-accessible.
Of special interest are the maritime collections, diaries, early deeds and letters, and genealogical information. The DHS has had an on-going program to obtain, on loan from Dennis residents, particular family items and heirlooms, digitizing all of the data, and making those digitized copies available in the library. Thus we have been able to collect items which would not normally be available, to add to our extensive history.In many cases, the residents have made some collections a permanent part of the DHS Library, and those items are available, under supervision for descendants and interested parties, to view the original items. Also in the collection are audio copies of interviews that were conducted with residents no longer living, and videos of events as early as before World War II.
The photo collection is of particular importance. Kept up-to-date by diligent archivists, the collection grows at a phenomenal rate through loans by residents and descendants of old Cape families. More than a dozen albums, each at least 2-inches thick and containing as many as 275 pages, record the history of the region and, particularly, Dennis, from 1845 to the present day. Many people in the photos have yet to be identified, but that, too, changes daily through study and analysis by historians and descendants. Among the collections are photos of old houses, obtained by the Dennis Historical Commission, who have put them on permanent loan to the Library.
Limited access to the library is available during any hours that the West Dennis Public Library is open. Detailed access is available during days when members of the Dennis Historical Society are in attendance, which at this time is on Tuesdays 10:30 - 2 p.m. Full schedules will be posted at the West Dennis Public Library, and on-line.