New York’s Municipal Historians Start Second Hundred Years
The first Scotia Historian was Charles P. Sanders, appointed on September 6, 1919. Sanders died in 1923, and, though on hold until libraries reopen, I’m still researching who came between him and Neil Reynolds who was appointed in 1949. So more on all the Scotia Historians at a future date.
Provision for each municipality in New York to have a municipal historian was included in a bill signed by Governor Al Smith on April 11, 1919. Concerned that government records were being lost, and that local stories of the Great War (World War I) and myriad other local stories were not being recorded, Assemblyman Louis Martin worked with State Historian James Sullivan to draft the bill. (The office of State Historian was established in 1895.) New York was the first state to establish a law like this, and today only a handful of states have anything similar.
Local historians (there are 1641 separate municipalities in NY that have, or should have, historians appointed) work with their communities and other local museums and libraries on a variety of activities. They may do research and writing, present educational programs and events, work with students and adults to answer questions, and provide resources to those interested in local stories. Every community is different, and historians do different things in different places.
Our Schenectady County historians are:
County Historian: Bill Buell
Assistant County Historian: John Woodward
Alplaus: Jessica Polmateer
Delanson: Mary McLaughlin
Duanesburg: Howard Ohlhous
Glenville: Joan Szablewski
Niskayuna: Denis Brennan
Princetown: Robert Jones
Rotterdam: Jim Schaefer
City of Schenectady: Chris Leonard
Village of Scotia: Beverly Clark