Growth and development are inevitable, but keeping a piece of the way we were is important for our heritage. Historical societies help us achieve this goal. Many historical societies operate with the belief that a firm knowledge of the past will create a brighter future.
State Historical Society Programs
State Historical Societies operate on a larger scale than a town or county historical society. Usually housed in a historical building, they tend to facilitate a wide range of programs. Depending on region, this could mean Archaeology and Antiquities. Programs range from public education about archaeology, like a poster contest for students and also in-depth information for teachers and schools. Some archaeology programs are more specific and designed only for professional archaeologists like record keeping and compliance.
A State Historical Society may be in charge of Cemeteries and Burials. They oftentimes work with cemeteries to keep an online database of all burials in the state and this database is available to the public. Loved ones can find burial information about a deceased family member with a simple search.
Historic preservation of buildings is another program that a historical society oftentimes facilitate. Programs can include maintaining a registry of historic buildings and managing grants and tax incentives for those who are working towards preserving a property or archaeological site.
City or Town Historical Societies
Historical Societies of towns or counties operate with the same intention of larger state historical societies, just on a smaller scale. They have less to do with large databases, funding and compliance and more to do with in-depth knowledge of the local region.
Like their state counterparts, local Historical Societies tend to be located in historical buildings which will usually contain a small museum or art exhibit, which they manage. Programs could include traveling exhibits that visit schools, history camps for kids, lecture series, walking tours of the town and more.
Historical Societies oftentimes have on-site resource centers where interested parties can search for photographs, newspaper articles and historical books and materials. Usually these resources are more extensive than on-line databases and most centers ask patrons to make a reservation so that a staff member or volunteer may be able to assist.
Find Out More
This is simply a small overview of the exciting things that historical societies are involved with. Most have newsletters, ongoing events, and special project days. To learn more about a historical society near you please visit the Directory of Historical Societies.
It was interesting when you talked about how smaller city or town societies have an in-depth knowledge of the history of the region. Additionally, there are websites and blogs where people in specific areas have come together to share stories about local history. I’d like to learn more about how digital history and the more formal, organized societies could come together in the future.