The first meeting of the Dukes County Historical Society, for purpose of organization, was held at the Public Library, Oak Bluffs, on Monday afternoon, Oct. 23rd, Mr. Marshall Shepard presiding. The meeting adopted by-laws and elected the following officers for the ensuing year: President, Marshal Shepard; 1st Vice President, William J. Rotch; 2nd Vice President, Ulysses E. Mayhew; Secretary and Treasurer, Francis A. Foster.
The annual dues for both resident and Associate members was fixed at one dollar with the privilege of commuting by the payment of twenty-five dollars for Life Membership.
All applications for membership should be addressed to the Secretary Edgartown, and should be accompanied by a remittance for dues. Honorary Membership is reserved for those who have rendered distinguisher service to Dukes County in the field of historic achievement.
Photo by Sevilla Shuey Shinn, 1948
The Society owes its inception to a desire on the part of some of the trustees of the public libraries on the Island to form an organization for the purpose of preserving, creating a greater interest in and making available both published and unpublished literature relating to Martha’s Vineyard, and by bringing about more co-operation between the several libraries of the towns by broadening their accomplishments. Mrs. Shepard, who was the prime mover in the attempt, and who has prepared a valuable bibliography of Vineyardiana, was chosen President at the initial meeting at Oak Bluffs on April 21, 1921, Dr. Charles E. Banks, Editor, Mr. Walter C. Ripley, Treasurer and Mrs. Johnson Whiting, Secretary.
A second meeting was held at Oak Bluffs on March 10, 1922, at which time it was deemed best to modify the original plans for a collection of such character and in its stead to form a county historical society “which shall gather and preserve in suitable form and place a permanent collection of Vineyard literature.”
The next meeting was held at Oak Bluffs on October 9th of this year when it was voted to form the Dukes County Historical Society “for the purpose of collecting, preserving and occasionally publishing historical and analogous matter relating to the County of Dukes County,” by which it will be seen that the scope of the association was considerably broadened. It was also voted that the headquarters of the Society should be at Edgartown, at least temporarily. It is hoped that ultimately the Society will have fireproof quarters in one of the towns in which can be placed its collections and such other objects of historical interest as may be loaned or given to it, thus preserving for all time the many scattered articles, books, manuscripts, and the like, the value of which would be hard to estimate, if in fact any valuation could be assigned to what would be impossible to replace, now housed in inflammable buildings or remaining in private hands.
It is hoped that the idea of a central and safe depository for the many priceless Vineyard antiquities and articles of historic interest, as well as special collection of Vineyard literature, will appeal to the citizens of Dukes County and to those whose less permanent associations with the Island have rendered it dear to them. How soon the Society’s hopes shall be realized rest entirely with the support to be given by the public. Its efforts are worthy of tangible encouragement and a large and interested membership. “He who gives quickly gives twice.“
- Francis A. Foster, Secretary.