Saturday, December 19, 2020

Adirondack history website brings museums, orgs together in one place

To say that John Sasso is passionate about Adirondack history would be an understatement.

He’s the founder of the History and Legends of the Adirondacks group on Facebook, which launched five years ago and has since grown to almost 21,000 members. In that forum, Sasso frequently posts his own research into the history of different peaks and the areas that surround them. Some of those historic peak profiles have been published here as well. Click here to see John’s work on the Almanack.

On top of all that, John has been quietly working behind the scenes on a personal project: An interactive map of historical organizations, museums and related landmarks.

In John’s own words, the goal is to “provide a platform that would allow the public to easily access these historical resources within and related to the Adirondack Park.  For example, folks planning on venturing into Warren County may discover various museums they did not know exist and want to learn more about.  Folks doing historical or genealogical research pertaining to a particular municipality will be able locate the resource they may need for easily (resources in terms of municipal records, historical societies/associations, et al.)”

The result can be found here:

Site highlights:

  • Links to over 100 museums and permanent exhibits related to Adirondack history – local, municipal, and all about the Adirondack Park.  It provides the most complete on-line guide to such
  • Provides a complete guide to locating county, town or village historians and historical organizations (ie. municipal historians and historical societies/associations), via access to their websites, Facebook pages, and so on, providing enough information to allow the public to contact them
  • Be able to view brief historical information on a county, town or village:  name origin, when it was established and from what parts, etc.  You can also access the municipality’s website in case a public official (e.g. county or town clerk) needs to be contacted for access to historical records.
  • Access to a county’s genealogical resources via NYGenWeb provided, as well as other online genealogical resources for the county and its localities
  • Access driving directions to a museum via a link to Google Maps

The website is available to the public, free of charge with no membership requirements.  Plus, it essentially provides free advertising for these museums, historical organizations, etc in terms of allowing the public to find them if they were unaware of their existence.

How the website came to be:

According to John, the project started off over three years ago as a very large Excel spreadsheet of Adirondack history museums, which was provided to members of the “History and Legends of the Adirondacks” Facebook group.  This Excel spreadsheet was developed after much research.  From there, he ended up importing the museums to Google Maps, which allowed people to peruse museums on a per-county basis. After hitting up against Google Maps’ limitations, he decided to move the framework over to a widely-used, industry-standard GIS platform:  ESRI’s ArcGIS.  After a year of effort, with much time taken to learn ArcGIS and experimenting with various map templates, the finished version is now live.

For John, one of the big goals is to support people’s efforts doing genealogy research.

“While I could have stopped at having the website just provide a map to history museums,  I also felt it was important to allow someone doing historical or genealogical research pertaining to a particular municipality to access the resources they need to help their effort.  By ‘resources’ I mean municipal records, historical societies/associations, and online resources such as Facebook groups and blogs to allow them to ask questions, in order to seek answers.   For example, someone who had great-grandparents who resided in the Town of Webb (in Herkimer Co) may not have realized (until now) that there is the Town of Webb Historical Association to help them with their research.”

Take a look and let John know what you think (or what might be missing) by leaving a comment here!

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Melissa is a journalist with experience as a reporter and editor with the Burlington Free Press, Ithaca Journal and Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. She worked as a communications specialist for the Adirondack North Country Association and is currently digital editor for Adirondack Explorer, overseeing both the Explorer's website and its community forum the Adirondack Almanack. She enjoys hiking, camping and other outdoors activities, and spending time with her husband, their twin daughters, and rescue animals -- two dogs and two cats.

7 Responses

  1. Phil Fitzpatrick says:

    Thank you, Melissa.

    John, what a generous thing you have done in creating your website. Congratulations! When you have time, please take a look at my website: I note that your list of Franklin County towns and villages does not mention the hamlet of Onchiota. While that is technically correct, pur road sign is still standing and the USPS still delivers mail to us. Again, huge kudos on your work.

  2. Marsha Smith says:

    This is a terrific resource!
    Please add Wanakena Historical Assoc in the Town of Fine in St Lawrence County, 21 Second St Wanakena, NY 13695

    • John Sasso John Sasso says:

      Hi Marsha. WHA is actually already there. As it is a historical association, it is mentioned and the association’s FB page is in the pop-up box when one clicks inside the Town of Fine boundary. I may have to add a link to the hamlet of Wanakena in Fine on the left hand side to make it more clear

  3. Mary Lou says:

    Great idea! Thank you, Mr. Sasso. Would you know the title/author of a little book about the caretaker at Bay Pond who had the dispute with a Rockefeller? It predates Oliver’s War. I was loaned it by an elderly relative who’s gone now. I’d love to read it again. Seems like it was written by Mary Duquette, perhaps.

    • John Sasso John Sasso says:

      That I do not know but if you are on FB, you can pose the question on the History and Legends of the Adirondacks FB group and surely someone will answer

  4. Phil Fitzpatrick says:

    Mary Lou, if you get your answer please share it with me.

    Thank you ?

    [email protected]

  5. Daniel Towne says:

    This is great!

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