The Wilmington Historical Society was initiated by Wilmington Town Historian, Merri Carol Peck, in January of 2002, when she called together a group of townspeople interested in preserving and promoting the history of Wilmington and creating a permanent and accessible place to protect and house the town's collection of historical records and artifacts. The group met informally for a year and decided to petition the State of New York for a Provisional Charter. The first annual meeting and election of officers was held on June 14, 2003. The first officers were: President ---Karen Marshall Peters, Vice-President--- Merri Carol Peck, Treasurer--- Robert Cressey, Secretary--- Nancy Cressey, Trustee (3 years) --- Doug Wolfe, Trustee (2 years) --- Guy Stephenson, Trustee (1 year) --- Steve Connor.
The Wilmington Historical Society received a New York State Provisional Charter on September 12, 2003 and Federal Internal Revenue 501 (c) (3) tax exempt status in October, 2003. Our collections are currently housed in the Wilmington Community Center, located at 7 Community Center Circle (off Springfield Road), Wilmington, NY 12997. We have summer hours on Saturdays, 10am-2pm, and at all times by appointment by calling Karen Peters at 518-420-8370 or Merri Peck at 518 946-7627.
One of our earliest accomplishments was the creation of the searchable "Wilmington Virtual Cemetery" on CD by our members, Bob and Nancy Cressey, who took digital photos of all of the cemetery headstones in Wilmington. It is available for research in the E.M. Cooper Library, the Wilmington Community Center, and the Essex County Historical Society.
In November, 2003, upon invitation, the Society was the subject of a Survey funded by New York State's Documentary Heritage Program administered by the Northern New York Library Network. The site visit took place on November 15, 2003 with a report prepared by Joseph G. Swinyer. The Wilmington Historical Society has been proceeding forward, utilizing the recommendations contained in the "General Archival Survey and Recommendations" which we received as a result of the study.
Our first membership drive took place in February, 2004. We currently have an annual membership of almost 150 members. Because of the funds raised through our membership drives, we now have some needed funds to begin organizing, preserving, and cataloguing the collection we already have, and to begin community education programs regarding the history of Wilmington. We have historical programs scheduled throughout the year. Memberships and donations have enabled us to purchase the state-of -the-art Past Perfect Archival Software Program which will allows us to create a searchable catalogue and manage Wilmington's history collection. We also have been able to purchase a new laptop computer and printer and a digital voice recorder, as well as new storage cabinets and archival storage materials.