GEN-NYS-L ArchivesArchiver > GEN-NYS > 2000-05 > 0958574738
From: "Linda Crannell" <>
Subject: RE: NY Historical societies
Date: Wed, 17 May 2000 09:45:38 -0500
I agree with Dick. As a matter of fact ... Nancy's response is SO good that
I think of it as an essay that would be a Very Good Thing (as Martha Stewart
would put it <grin>) to have posted where others (besides just those of us
lucky enough to be on this one e-mail list!) could benefit from it. I just
can't think what would be the best place to submit it. (Anybody out there
got some good ideas?)
Lynn, Great Question! Nancy, Great Answer!
Only one thing to add: many small local historical societies do not yet have
computers, some that do use computers are not yet hooked up to the internet
(internet service is VERY expensive ... if not UNavailable ... in some more
remote rural areas), and many societies are staffed by very skillful
knowledgeable people who are old enough to have done this stuff the
old-fashioned, non-computerized, way for decades.
We need to respect them and NOT inadvertently seem to think less of them
because the thought of attempting to become computer-literate seems very
DAUNTING to them. Many of us who are over a half-century or over 3/4 of a
century old are (or were) truly intimidated by the new technology ... and
afraid we cannot learn it. Those of us who have...well, we remember the
fear that was finally only overcome when some punk grandchild of ours
challenged us that if THEY could learn it WE could learn it. And then they
were VERY PATIENT with us while they taught us. And only now ... with the
benefit of hindsite (ain't it great)... think the fear was foolish. But we
remember the fear and trepidation with which we approached these strange
machines and the weird new language & procedures we had to learn. And we
remember the fear that if we couldn't learn this computer stuff ... our
contributions would be overlooked or unvalued in this new era. (End of
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Richard Hillenbrand [mailto:]
> Sent: Wednesday, May 17, 2000 5:45 AM
> Subject: Re: NY Historical societies
> That is about the best thought out and acurate response that I have ever
> seen on the internet. I have served on the Board of Directors of
> a very old
> society for over twenty years and understand EXACTLY what you were
> Thank you.
> Dick Hillenbrand
> Syracuse, NY
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: NColeman <>
> To: <>
> Sent: Wednesday, May 17, 2000 8:24 AM
> Subject: Re: NY Historical societies
> > As Bob Sullivan has pointed out, most historical societies
> > are small, have entirely volunteer staffs, have low
> > membership fees (ranging from $10-25), and are non-profit,
> > thus not supported by any tax base. Yes, some receive
> > donations for their libraries or for building maintenance
> > (most are housed in very historic buildings that take an
> > enormous amount of money - their budget - to maintain).
> > If you really feel that a particular historical society may
> > have manuscripts or other documents that are pertinent to
> > your family research, join them. Pay the membership fee and
> > begin receiving their literature. Most have bi-monthly or
> > quarterly newsletters.
> > If you cannot, physically, avail yourself of their library,
> > ask that they recommend a researcher (for hire) that knows
> > their collection well. Most societies have at least two or
> > three people (member volunteers) who are experts in the
> > collection and can hone in on what materials may benefit
> > your search the most and will take on clients. You then
> > work with that person to explore the resources the society
> > may hold for you.
> > You will soon find out that no one is trying to "hide" or
> > "hoard" anything. If it's there, the researcher will
> > hopefully find it for you. But, it is a matter of time,
> > economics, and volunteers. Being a member not only helps
> > you, but it helps the society, that may hold the history of
> > your ancestors, remain as caretakers for the town's
> > historical documents.
> > I always recommend that once you have established a
> > particular town as an ancestor's "home," that you begin
> > your search by joining one of these local societies and
> > learning a little bit about the place. You may or may not
> > find anything "specific" about your particular ancestor.
> > But, you may learn what life was like for them in that part
> > of the country at any given point in time.
> > By the way, although some societies do have some collections
> > of "public" records, for the most part, those are available
> > in public archives, from town clerks, from Surrogate's
> > Courts, etc. Perhaps as close as a walk down the block from
> > the society at the local Town Hall. So, generally speaking
> > they don't usually duplicate those records/efforts
> > wholesale. They may have indexed the material, or
> > abstracted it, however, and the researcher will know what
> > they do and do not have with respect to "public" records.
> > Another thing to keep in mind is that most of these
> > organizations are "historical" societies, not genealogical
> > societies. Their purpose is to preserve the history and the
> > historical documents of a town or region. This may or may
> > not include your particular family genealogy. Most
> > incorporate both, but not all of them emphasize this, per
> > se.
> > When you join, ask if they have an index to articles
> > published in their newsletter. A quick look at these
> > indexes (or a PERSI search) can tell you whether the society
> > has ever published anything on your particular family. Most
> > societies will sell you back issues if you find one that
> > interests you.
> > Also, keep in mind that the goals and charters of most
> > historical societies include efforts to uncover NEW material
> > and produce/publish the results, adding to their collection.
> > So, although some efforts have been made to put older
> > material on the internet, the greater value is their efforts
> > to disseminate materials that have never been seen or
> > assembled before. If we, as genealogists, want new and
> > exciting resources, we have to understand this. And,
> > economically, this allows the society to continue such
> > efforts on our behalf (as members).
> > Membership does have it's privileges. And, not everything
> > is on the Web. There are great strides being made to bring
> > people free access to a lot of material via the internet.
> > Many thousands of hours by volunteers. But, unless you have
> > personally volunteered for one of these efforts and know
> > what is involved, judgement should be reserved.
> > I hope this is useful to someone.
> > Best regards. Nancy.
> > NColeman
> > NYC/Long Island Family History Research Services:
> > http://www.genealogyPro.com/ncoleman.html
> > County Coordinator for the Nassau GenExchange:
> > http://www.genexchange.com/ny/nassau/index.cfm
> > Irish Family History Forum - VP Membership
> > http://www.ifhf.org email:
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: Lynn T. <>
> > To: <>
> > Date: Tuesday, May 16, 2000 4:32 PM
> > Subject: NY Historical societies
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