The Pearsall Family
The Pearsall Family Digital Collection tells the story of a Long Island family with African, European, and Native American ancestry. Through written recollections, oral history interviews, and a newly expanded collection of historical photographs, we have been able to conduct deep research on the Pearsalls’ lives.
From 1994-2001, E. Arrell Pearsall, the youngest of eight children born to Eugene and Marcellena Pearsall, wrote an incredible autobiography in which he describes detailed scenes from his entire life, including the hardships he and his family faced as a result of their mixed racial heritage.
One of the most compelling narratives present in our collection, Arrell's recollections give a clear view of his experiences and cover nearly the entire span of the 20th century. This includes memories of his military service in WWII, marriage and family life, retirement in New Mexico, and details about his parents and each of his seven siblings.
Written expressly for the Bryant Library Local History Collection, the work was accompanied by a collection of photographs which we began to digitize in June 2020 and have since presented to our library community through blog articles, digital exhibits, and virtual programming.
In March 2021, we had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Pearsall’s oldest son, Bryan, who provided an amazing cache of family photographs, some of which date back to the 19th century.
Over a period of several months, we created digital versions of these newly-shared photographs, which were returned to the Pearsall family when Bryan visited in January 2022 with his wife, Betty.
While we have presented some of these images in blog articles, social media posts, and library exhibits, our first comprehensive offering of the photo collection is now available for viewing in a digital exhibit of several galleries. These include albums for Eugene and Marcellena Pearsall and their children, Arrell Pearsall and his family, photos of Arrell's award-winning poultry, as well as a collection of various friends and family. The latter gallery consists of photos that were taken from Marcellena's personal album. Sadly, we are not able to identify them.