Chautauqua County Historian Michelle Henry was presented with the annual Julia Reinstein Award for Distinguished Service and Dedication to History by the Government Appointed Historians of Western New York. The award was presented at a regional meeting at Chautauqua Institution which was attended by 85 historians and history enthusiasts.
Henry was appointed County Historian in 2000 and since that time has worked to improve access to historical records held in the County Archives and to promote an appreciation for the county's rich history. She was one of the first historians in New York State to be certified as a Registered Public Historian.
Numerous grant awards have allowed the county to preserve significant records such as naturalization documents, early court records, maps and tax assessment rolls. A local history research room was opened in the courthouse in 2008 to respond to increasing public use of the county's archives. "Each year, heritage tourism and interest in genealogy bring more researchers to our county. They spend money locally and visit our museum and cemeteries. We offer them access to 200 years of records relating to our communities, citizens and events," stated Henry.
The historian was also recognized for her research on the county poor farm, education reform and the county's early history, much of which has been published in New York State Archives magazine. This year's County Bicentennial celebration was chaired by Henry.
The distinguished service award was named for Julia Reinstein, historian for the Town of Cheektowaga who was noted for her devoted service to historians all across New York State. Julia worked long and hard to organize the State Municipal Historians Association. She continued to promote history until her death in 1998 and her motto, "Historians in Pursuit of Excellence Building a Legacy" was adopted by the regional association.
Since that time the Historians of New York's 10 westernmost counties have continued the annual tradition of recognizing historians who have continued to build upon the legacy of Julia Reinstein. For more information about the Government Appointed Historians of Western New York, visit: www.gahwny.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.