APPEARANCE OF THE GUESTS: From historical society to historic Geneva – The name changes but not the mission, telling the stories of Geneva | Notice

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A great change has happened to the Société historique de Genève. Since July 14, the Historical Society has become historical Geneva. Our mission to tell the stories of Geneva will continue with a different name. You may have questions about the name change.

First, how did the Historical Society make this decision?

In the fall of 2019, the Historical Society began working with Causewave Community Partners (a Rochester nonprofit that helps other nonprofits). Our initial goal was to develop a plan to help increase the number of visits to our sites and participation in our programs and events. As with most projects, it quickly evolved into something quite different.

The end product was a two-part communications plan: the rebranding of the Historical Society and the restructuring of our membership program. Seeing these ever-changing times as an opportunity, the Board approved the communication plan in spring 2020. The last year has been devoted to the design of a new logo and planning for the deployment of historic Geneva.

When creating the communications plan, we carefully looked at our organization. We believe that the term “company” can limit the engagement of the community at large. Early in their history, historical societies were often created by elite members of the community to preserve a version of a community’s history. Historical societies have evolved into community organizations that tell multiple stories but maintain a reputation for exclusion. People often thought that our museums and programs were only open to members of the Historical Society, which was never the case.

For more than a decade, the renaming of historical societies has been a trend. Some of the organizations to be renamed include Ohio History Connection, Historic New England, The History Center of Tompkins County, History Colorado, and Chicago History Museum. Changing our name reflects our interest in telling the stories of all Genevans. This is only one step we are taking to be more inclusive towards the Geneva community.

What does all of this mean for the community?

Our mission does not change. Historic Geneva is full of history. Each story connects people to Geneva’s past as a way to engage them in the present and look to the future. There is something for everyone. Fun and engaging activities for children through school programs, online content and the discovery room of the Geneva History Museum. Dive deep into local history for the chair scholar or budding genealogist in our research room. Opportunities to discover the stories of Geneva for the curious through our exhibitions, our guided tours and our programs. Explore the stories of Geneva at your own pace with online content, publications and self-guided tours. Local shopping in the souvenir shops of the Geneva History Museum and Rose Hill Mansion Be a part of Geneva’s history by volunteering. Preserving the stories of Geneva through photos, clothes, letters, diaries and other objects. Collaborations to explore unrepresented and under-represented Geneva stories. Most importantly, your story is part of historic Geneva.

Kerry Lippincott is the Executive Director of Historic Geneva.


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