History Center Purpose –
The Ruth & Thomas Keegan Memorial History Center will house collections pertinent to our mission, provide a local history and genealogy research library, display local historical artifacts, and displays pertinent to the Whiteface Region, and provide program space for the community.
Major Preservation/conservation Projects by the Wilmington Historical Society:
- Digitization of over 3,000 photos in our collection.
- Writing and publishing a photo book, Wilmington and the Whiteface Region published by Arcadia Books (2013).
- Assistance in the transcription and completion of the 19th century 23- volume series, Town of Wilmington, Essex County, New York Transcribed Serial Records by Harold Hinds, Jr and Tina Didrickson, published by Willow Bend Books (now Heritage Books). This series includes such items as census records, school records, cemetery records, store records, poll records, etc. (a 10-year project)
- Conserving and maintaining archival collections using current best practice guidelines including ephemera, diaries, letters, etc.
- Conserving artifacts pertinent to the history of the Town of Wilmington and the Whiteface Region using current best practice methods of conservation.
- Maintaining a 350-volume library of books, materials and 145 microfilms relative to the history and genealogy of the Wilmington/Whiteface Region.
- Creating digital interviews with local senior citizens and others on topics related to the Wilmington/Whiteface Region.
- Interpreting local history topics through the creation of PowerPoint presentations including several on the History of Santa’s Workshop, the History of Whiteface Mountain skiing, and the history of Wilmington (general).
- Creating & interpreting historical displays & activities for the Festival of Colors (Fall) and the Wilmington Whiteface Whiskey Run and Festival (June), the Wilmington Community Center and the Whiteface Mountain Region Visitors Bureau.
- Assisting in the research for the creation of the documentary film “North Pole, NY Documentary.”
- Providing research assistance to authors and researchers with regular and scheduled appointments. (including such books as Adirondack Ice by Capperton Tissot, Lost Ski Areas of the Northern Adirondacks by Jeremy Davis, and more). Also provided research and photos in collaboration with the 1980 Winter Olympic Museum in Lake Placid for Whiteface/Olympic ski history exhibit.
- Maintaining genealogical records and providing genealogical research assistance.
- Providing programs for the public to interpret local and Adirondack history through our Summer Speaker Series. 2019 programs included the following: Archeology in the Adirondacks with author Dr. David Starbuck, Adirondack Artifact Night with author and publisher Andy Flynn, Fools Rushed In: The Story of Murray’s Fools with Adirondack Experience Director Ivy Gocker, and Votes for Women! with historian Margaret Bartley. Our plans for 2020 include “Prohibition in the North Country” with author Lawrence P. Gooley at 7pm on Wednesday, May 27h at the Wilmington Community Center, “Seeing the Forest and the Trees: Integrating History & Genealogy” with genealogist Nancy Smith at 7pm on Friday, June 12th at the Wilmington Community Center, “High Falls Gorge 130th Anniversary History & Tour” on Tuesday, July 7th at High Falls Gorge at 4:30pm to walk the gorge followed by a presentation on High Falls Gorge history by Wilmington Historical Society President Karen Peters, “Rural Rosie” with educator Katie Torchetti on Monday, August 17th at 7pm at the Wilmington Community Center and “Pack-Basket making class” and history of pack baskets with crafter Jessica Mulvey on Saturday, October 10th, 9am-4pm, venue to be announced.
- Collaborating annually with the Lake Placid-North Elba Historical Society and the Lake Placid Elementary Schools 4th grade teachers on a History Fair with 4th grade students using local historical artifacts
- Collaborating on a regular basis with Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH) on tours like Santa’s Workshop and the Whiteface Mountain Highway History tour (to be completed in 2021).
- Serving on various Town of Wilmington committees to bring a historical perspective/information to projects such as the re-construction of the Wilmington stone bridge (2015-16) and the Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway reconstruction (2014-2015).
- 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 M. Cooper Library, the Wilmington Community Center, and the Essex County Historical Society.