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The Work We Do: Georgette Case, Riverhead Town Historian

History is a passion of mine and I love this job. It’s the best job in the town, no matter what anybody else says.

I enjoy it tremendously. I get to meet a lot of interesting people and I get to learn a lot about the town because of questions that I’m asked.

Any day can bring any kind of question. I get quite a bit of genealogy. While the town historian is not a genealogist, I try to do what I can to help people find their roots.

Some days it’s very quiet, where I don’t talk to a single person and other times I could have maybe two people here in the office wanting research on different thing.

People call and ask me about roads; how they got their name. I wrote an article about Osborn Avenue, because there is no “E” at the end of Osborn Avenue. It was named after Thomas Osborn, who was a doctor here in town.

Riverhead Town Historian Georgette Case. (Credit: Kelly Zegers)

You can find a lot of history in the office. Now when I say history, I’m not talking about the last 50 or 60 years. I’m talking about history from the 1700s, when the town what founded up, to the 1880s or the very early 1900s.

I’ve tried to index most everything I have here in the office: photographs, books, the names in newspaper articles, things like that.

Newspapers are an excellent source of history of the town and locating articles. And newspapers today are nothing like they were back then, where they talked about the neighbor painting the house.

It’s frustrating when you look for something and you can’t find anything at all. And that has happened quite a few times.

What does it mean to the community to have a town historian? It means that they can go back to see how the people lived in that time — their grandparents, their great-grandparents, their great-great-grandparents — or even someone that they’ve heard about.

You enjoy helping the people out and I think they appreciate the fact that you’ve made the effort to personalize history for them. You’ve helped somebody, and they’re so pleased. That makes your day.

And it’s just a lot of fun.

‘The Work We Do’ is a News-Review multimedia project profiling workers on the North Fork. This weekly feature is made possible by Peconic Landing. See more photos on Instagram @riverheadnewsreview.