Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Joe Allgaier, Bethlehem Town Historian from 1991-2005

Joe Allgaier passed away not too long ago and I've been thinking about his contributions to Bethlehem's local history.  And I just don't know where to start the list is so long.

Editorial team for the 1993 publication "Bethlehem Revisited" from left to right: Joe Allgaier, Chuck McKinney, Floyd Brewer, Hugh Hewitt and Peter Christoph.  
  I probably met Joe when I attended my first Bethlehem Historical meeting in September of 1995.  He was an approachable guy always willing to share his expertise and encouragement.  His legacy as town historian is long and includes the book Bethlehem Revisited for which he served on the editorial team and wrote two chapters Business and Industry and Will of the People. Bethlehem Revisited is a book I refer to constantly - go read it if you haven't already!

Another legacy I use everyday is the database Joe created for the town's archival records. That database stemmed from a re-organization that I am sure was a huge project.  He collaborated closely with then Town Clerk Kathy Newkirk and others to assess, inventory and properly store the records.  The resulting searchable database really is awesome.  99% of the time when the database produces a hit and I go looking for a specific document in a specific folder in a specific archival storage box, it is there just like it is supposed to be.

Joe took me in hand when I was first appointed town historian in nine years ago, giving me the tour, giving me the keys to the database, answering my many questions about how to be a historian and encouraging me to make the position of historian my own.

Bethlehem and its history are the richer for having been served by town historian Joe Allgaier.  Personally, his influence on how I do my job has been profound and deeply appreciated.

Rest in Peace Joe!

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