Eleanor Crane Kalsbeck and Henrietta Heritage
Local history, in one of its many guises- genealogy, historic preservation, ethnic studies, and records of all kinds- has captured the interest of Americans all over the country. The outward simplicity of the term “local history” camouflages immense complexity.
Local history offers a never-ending series of mysteries. Each solution only leads to another question, the answer to which may lie in a printed source, or in the lives and memories of local people. Although those sources may contain clues, they all remain silent and uninformative without the active and inquiring mind of a historian who selects the pieces that seem to fit the puzzle, to produce a plausible reconstruction of the past.
Personal commitment, high standards of respect for evidence, and a genuine desire to be of service have carried individual local historians forward for a long time. Local historians collect, preserve and protect historical materials so that they may not become lost in oblivion. Local historians are not only keepers of our collective past; scholarship means nothing if not shared with others.
It was knowledge garnered from a life’s work as Town Historian that compelled Eleanor Crane Kalsbeck to write with great care and a consciousness of the historical setting to inform others about the history of Henrietta. Her perseverance and curiosity about the past resulted in the acclaimed work titled Henrietta Heritage.
Published in 1977, Henrietta Heritage offers a rich, full view of the local past. This seminal work provides such breadth of information about Henrietta that it ensures its place as one of, if not the, foremost reference work on the local community. Complete with images, Henrietta Heritage details topics including, but not limited to, the pioneering and settlement of Henrietta, educational institutions and places of worship, local government and transportation, as well as the organizations and establishments that are central to the town.
Moreover, Eleanor Crane Kalsbeck extrapolated from the documents, diaries, conversations, and additional artifacts she collected – as there were few items that had been collected prior to her appointment as Town Historian- something about the texture of life in Henrietta’s past. For that and all of her tireless work in the field of local history, Eleanor Crane Kalsbeck was honored and titled Historian Emeritus for the Town of Henrietta. Her contribution to the profession in which she excelled, and her work leading up to and with the publication of Henrietta Heritage, will endure well into Henrietta’s future.