The Board of Supervisors created The Office of Historian in 1927, stating, “Montgomery County … with a historic background of over three hundred years, needs someone to further its interests and keep alive its history and traditions, by preserving its records, and directing work of this kind that will benefit the county.” New York State Education Law, March 1933, Section I, #1198 and 1199 delineate the local historian appointment and duties. From this law the duties of the County Historian state, “to collect and preserve, to supervise the activities of the local historians in towns and villages.” In 1934, the Department of History & Archives was established by Resolution #104. Through the help of Works Project Administration, many volumes of town, village, church and various records were copied, filed and rebound. The organization of these early records has made the department a Mecca for researchers and has encouraged people and municipalities to deposit their records in the Archives. The library contains over 5,000 books; the archives have expanded to about 900 cubic feet. Associated duties of the office include preserving and cataloging items in the collection. Additionally, the historian is called upon by various entities to answer factual questions. (Ex. Judge needs list of past County Judges, television station requests background for a documentary.) Inquiries to the department are either answered gratuitously or for a $20/hr fee.
Local Law #11 in 1988 established the Records Management program. Its officer is in charge of the inactive records of the County and is responsible for their timely disposition. The office must make a judgment as to what records have historical value. The officer is the chairperson of the Records Management Advisory Board and initiates its meetings, agendas and plans. Currently many of the County records, both inactive and archival, are in the Old Courthouse, stored on the third floor, as well as the newly renovated records storage center.
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