Nassau County Historical Society

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Saddle Rock Grist Mill, Saddle Rock
Saddle Rock Grist Mill, Saddle Rock
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Brief History

The Nassau County Historical Society was originally organized in 1915 and began to collect books, maps, manuscripts, and other historical materials. It first housed its collections in the Rockville Centre Public Library. By 1936 it was necessary to reorganize. The first issue of the Nassau County Historical [Society] Journal was published in 1937, and since then more than one hundred issues have appeared. The Journal is now published annually and sent to all members of the Society.

At the very first meeting of the revitalized organization in 1936, discussion focused on the creation of a historical museum. County Historian Jesse Merritt was urging a county museum in the Society's Journal as early as 1941, and by 1948 the Society's trustees were recommending a county museum in the recently established Nassau County (now Eisenhower) Park.

The Society's collections were housed at Adelphi College in the 1940s and at Hofstra College in the early 1950s. By the mid-1950s, as plans for a county historical museum were being developed, the Historical Society negotiated an agreement with the county to put its artifacts and "literary materials" on long-term loan to the County. The County has since greatly expanded and enlarged the collections. The Nassau County Historical Museum in East Meadow opened in 1961, with the Museum's Reference Library, located on the second floor, opening to the public in 1962.

The Historical Society's collection of books and manuscripts, together with the Nassau County Museum Reference Library, moved back to Hofstra in 1987 after Nassau County and Hofstra University created the Long Island Studies Institute, which also includes Hofstra's New York State history collection. The Long Island Studies Institute is located on the ground floor of Hofstra University's Joan and Donald E. Axinn Library, Room 032, Hempstead, NY 11549 and is open to the public Monday-Friday, from 9-5; (516) 463-6411; LISI@hofstra.edu.

The Nassau County Historical Society continues to support the study of local history and Nassau County's historical museums. It erected a number of historical markers, donated the 1702 Saddle Rock Grist Mill to Nassau County, financed the conservation of historical documents in its collections, sponsored reconstruction of the Agricultural Society's business office at Old Bethpage Village Restoration, facilitated the re-location of Dr. Searing's medical office to the Restoration, and supported the Cradle of Aviation Museum. The Society's programs on Long Island history are held at various sites throughout the county.

For more about the history of the Historical Society and its relationship with the Nassau County museums, see the following articles in the Nassau County Historical Society Journal: Edward J. Smits, "A Museum for Nassau," 22, no. 4 (Fall 1961): 12-19; Arthur L. Hodges, "The History of the Nassau County Historical Society," 26 (1965): 1-31; and Edward J. Smits, "The 75th Anniversary of the Nassau County Historical Society," 46 (1991): 1-8

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