Former State Historian Bob Weible/New Year/The Next State Historian?
Once again the calendar has turned and a new year has commenced. As sure as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, that means it is time for New Year’s resolutions which we won’t keep. Instead, I would like to submit a list of New Year wishes that I hope will have better results.
A. Governor Cuomo
The Governor will host a History in New York workshop to focus on civics, cultural heritage tourism, education, preservation, and scholarship.
B. New York State Historian
1. There will be a new state historian in charge of a robust and funded department.
2. The new state historian will take a leadership role in the promotion and development of
– New York State Heritage areas
– Path through History
– New York State History Month
– New York State Community Heritage Month
– Teaching New York State history k-12
– New York State Anniversary commissions
– the annual New York State History conference
3. The State Historian will be able to disburse funds through the REDC process as NYSOPRHP, I Love NY, and NYSAC do now.
4. The State Historian will maintain a public and searchable database of the municipal historians throughout the state.
5. The State Historian will have a weekly podcast on New York State history and related current developments.
6. The State Historian will participate in the annual conferences of APHNYS, MANY, and other related statewide organizations and will attend regional APHNYS meetings
C. County Historians
1. Every county shall have a fulltime human being as the county historian.
2. The County Historian will be responsible for
– hosting an annual county history conference
– hosting an annual high school local history conference
– periodic meetings throughout the year with the county history community through brown-bag lunches, social/network gatherings, etc.
– disseminating an enewsletter to the county history community and the state historian – maintaining a county history community database
– annually certifying to the state historian that all municipalities in the county have an individual human being as an historian with an explanation for any temporary vacancies
3. The County Historian will work with the County Tourism Department to promote cultural heritage tourism in the county and with the counterparts in the other counties in the region for REDC funding.
4. The County Historian will be a member of APHNYS, attend the annual statewide conference, and attend the annual regional conference.
5. New County Historians will participate in a one week training session in Albany with the State Historian, State Archives, State Librarian, State Museum, and OPRHP. They will meet with the members of the relevant Legislative and Senate committees. At the conclusion of the training there will a reception in the Executive Mansion with the Governor.
6. The state regulations and APHNYS guidelines for the position of the County Historian will be updated accordingly.
D. Municipal Historians
1. Every municipality shall have at least one part-time historian.
2. Municipalities shall be defined as including each community board district in New York City.
3. New York City shall have a full-time historian.
4. The municipal historian shall work with the county and state historian as outlined above.
5. The municipal historian shall prepare annual reports to the state historian and the village, town, or city council on the activities of the year and plans for the coming year.
6. The municipal historian shall host meetings of the history community in the municipality including people from the municipal library, municipal historical society, local school districts (which may or may not coincide with the municipality’s boundaries).
7. The municipal historian shall have a municipal email address and be listed on the municipality’s website provided the municipality has a website and municipal email addresses.
8. The municipal historians shall have a municipal phone number, mailing address, and business card, and have use of the municipality’s office equipment, postage, and meeting space.
9. Collections shall not be housed in the residence of the municipal historian but shall be properly maintained by the municipality in the village/town/city hall, municipal library, municipal historical society, or at a municipal historic site if the municipality owns any.
10. The municipal historian will be a member of APHNYS, attend the annual regional conference, and may attend the annual statewide conference, .
11. New municipal historians should participate in a one week training session in Albany with the State Historian, State Archives, State Librarian, State Museum, and OPRHP. They will meet with the members of the relevant Legislative and Senate committees. At the conclusion of the training there will a reception in the Executive Mansion with the Governor.
12. The state regulations and APHNYS guidelines for the position of the municipal historian should be updated accordingly.
13. Consideration should be given to varying the responsibilities and funding for the position based on the population of the municipality.
I am sure there are other recommendations which should be made and welcome your thoughts.
To affect such change or indeed any change whatsoever will require the history community to work together and to lobby in Albany. Some of these items particularly at the state level involve multiple state agencies and organizations. This inevitably will lead to turf issues and personality conflicts with no formal mechanism to reconcile differences and resolve problems. Obviously Governor leadership would go a long way to make implementing these suggestions a reality.
Happy New York State History New Year