On Monday, the Historical Society of Carroll County announced on its Facebook page that its executive director, Gainor Davis, has tendered her resignation and accepted the position of executive director of the Connecticut River Museum in Essex, Connecticut. Her last day officially will be Friday, June 21.
As chair of the Board of Trustees, Frank J. Batavick noted that they will be forming a search committee to help identify and hire a new executive director for the Historical Society as well as engage an interim director from June 24 until a new person can provide permanent leadership.
Every day, history is made — whether we choose to recognize it or not. For 80 years the Historical Society has served the county and its community members for our treasured local history and also as an educational facility to inform future generations of our rich history that provides paths to our future.
Some questions are posed locally asking the relevancy of our local history on a national level — well, the answer is a resounding YES! We are relevant and have made significant impacts on our nation’s history. From Westminster offering a safe haven for Baltimore’s money during the War of 1812, the Corbit's Charge skirmish in Westminster, visits by multiple U.S. presidents including Theodore Roosevelt, the birthplace of Francis Scott Key, and we played a key role in Whittaker Chambers’ Pumpkin Papers, which helped mold modern American politics.
History is also playing out with the current Board of County Commissioners and the conversation of charter government. When Carroll was formed many felt that too much power was to be held centrally with the Westminster area as the county seat. Other areas also desired to stay part of Baltimore or Frederick counties instead of the newly proposed county. Residents in the Manchester area in 1833 opted to turn the town cannon and fired it in the direction of Westminster as a gesture. Interestingly enough, if one looks at our various communities today one can still see geographic rivalries that continue to carry forward. In some cases this is most notable in the area of sports and also community mindset.
As a former board member of the Historical Society of Carroll County, we as a community owe a great debt of gratitude to the founders, countless members, volunteers, and patrons of the past eight decades. There is much opportunity, and the future is indeed bright with potential for the Historical Society of Carroll County.
Here are a few ideas that should be strongly considered to continue the organization moving forward for future generations. First, with the 160th anniversary of the Corbit’s Charge skirmish in 2023, now is the time for a joint partnership between the county, the City of Westminster and the Historical Society to begin preparations for a live skirmish re-enactment event on the city streets. Secondly, there is a significant opportunity to grow their younger membership and business base through activity-based events that many other entities are doing in larger cities nationally. One proposed example would be a BBBQ Event — Barbecue, Beer, and Benefactors — as well as other fundraisers.
Several decades ago, the City of Westminster hosted an antique street show with a solid pool of venders. Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, has been doing an antique and collectibles street show for decades. This type of community event would be an additional collaboration between the city and the Historical Society. It would create additional revenue and tourism for Westminster and the surrounding areas.
Finally, the greater opportunity to utilize technology to share the Historical Society’s collection of artifacts with the public. Currently the collection numbers more than 35,000 items, including 22,000 archival documents, 5,000 photographs, and 9,000 three-dimensional objects. Better utilization of technology would allow residents, educators, and the public greater access to the collection, which will help educate the public to help make sure our history comes alive.
After all, history is our past — and what will be our future.
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Tom Gordon writes from Westminster. He writes every other Saturday. Email him at email@example.com.