Department of History
M.A., American History, anticipated 2018 - SUNY College at Brockport, Brockport NY
M.L.S., Academic Librarianship, 2012 - SUNY University at Buffalo, Buffalo NY
B.S., History, 2010 - SUNY College at Brockport, Brockport NY
A local native, Matthew graduated from Albion High School in 2006 where he enrolled at SUNY Brockport soon after. Focusing his studies in American History during the era of National Expansion and Reform (1815-1880), he has studied a broad range of local subjects including Cobblestone Masonry and Polish Immigration; completing his B.S. in History in 2010. In 2012, he earned his Master of Library Studies (M.L.S.) from the University at Buffalo where he studied academic librarianship and special collections management.
Ballard has over ten years of experience with local history and preservation efforts. Currently he serves as treasurer of the Orleans County Genealogical Society and in the past has served as president of the Cobblestone Society and Museum and chairman of the Historic Preservation Commission in Albion. He also hosts the Albion Polonia website, which serves as a historical and genealogical resource for area researchers interested in the Polish communities of Albion and Medina. Matthew received the Orleans County Heritage Hero Award in 2014 as part of the inaugural class of inductees for his work in preserving the history of St. Mary's Assumption Church in Albion. In 2017 he received the SUNY College at Brockport Recent Alumnus Award for professional achievement and dedication to community service. He is also the Director of Library Services at Roberts Wesleyan College and the faculty liaison to the School of Arts & Humanities.
Matthew R. Ballard, MLS
ORCID ID: 0000-0003-1439-8235
34 East Park Street
Albion, New York
Phone: (585) 589-4174
Cell: (585) 690-6570
Hours: Wednesdays - 8:00am - 12:00pm; Saturdays - 8:00am - 12:00pm; or by appointment.
Please call or e-mail in advance to notify the historian of your intended visit.
The New York State Arts and Cultural Affairs Law does not require that local historians conduct individual, on-demand genealogical research unless they so choose. Due to limited time, research requests on families located outside of Orleans County cannot be responded to. It is understood that the Historian will retain information pertinent to families within the county as they relate to larger historical events. Information can be provided to researchers however, the Historian cannot conduct further research beyond what is retained within the department’s files. Research requests will be forwarded to the Orleans County Genealogical Society.
The Pioneer Record pays homage to the pioneer settlers who ventured into the wilderness that was Orleans County. The earliest settler arrived in 1803 and many traveled along the southern shore of Lake Ontario or along the historic Ridge Road. Often call the “Black North,” the region was covered with forests so dense that light could not penetrate the tree tops. Men, women, and children toiled in the vast wilderness, clearing the land and preparing a life and future for themselves.
Founded in 1859, Article VIII of the Pioneer Association Constitution stated, “The Secretary shall keep a book, to be called the “Pioneer Record,” in which he shall enter this constitution and the proceedings of each meeting of the association, and he shall also keep a register of the names of the several members, the place of their birth, the year they became residents of Western New York, and the time and place of the decease of each member…”
It is in this spirit that the Department of History shall resurrect The Pioneer Record as a way to preserve the continued development and progress of the history of Orleans County.
The Pioneer Record is a publication that provides entertaining and informative articles about the history of Orleans County and the surrounding region.
For questions about the publication or the submission process, please contact the Historian.
1.) Research and Writing
The primary function of the Historian is to interpret the history of Orleans County and to disseminate that history through appropriate mediums. The Historian regularly authors a weekly column in the local news outlets including The Batavia Daily News and the Orleans Hub. A biannual historical journal, The Pioneer Record, will be published electronically by the Department of History to further promote the study of local history within the ten townships and four villages making up Orleans County.
Another important function of the Historian is to interpret the history of Orleans County by providing educational opportunities and presentations to organizations within the community. Such opportunities include teaching courses or workshops on local and regional history, serving as an educational resource for NYS and local history in the fourth and seventh grade school curricula, consult with area historical organizations with the development of exhibitions and publications, and lecturing to various community groups. Available presentation/lecture topics are available HERE.
3.) Historic Preservation
The Historian’s role in historic preservation is two-fold. Regular efforts are made by the Historian to ensure that the community’s built environment is preserved for future generations. The Historian will assist community members with preparing applications for the Register of State and National Historic Places or applications for National Historic Landmark status. Other projects may include the identification of historic structures, cultural resource surveys, and the historic marker program.
The Historian is also tasked with preserving the manuscripts, records, documents, photographs, artifacts, and other historic materials. Aside from preservation of materials within the County Department of History, the Historian also consults with area historical agencies and libraries on preservation practices and the identification of historic items.
4.) Advocacy, Organization, and Tourism
The final responsibility of the Historian is that of advocate and organizer. With the rise of Heritage Tourism in New York, many historians are responsible for leading efforts to promote county-wide tourism initiatives. The Historian is also asked to lead and organize effort to commemorate important national, state, and local anniversaries, drawing upon their knowledge of the past to promote such celebrations in a tasteful manner.
The Historian is expected to act as a fund raiser and grant writer, leading efforts to financially support local history initiatives. Also, the Historian will lobby with local government agencies to develop legislative initiatives aimed at promoting local history.
Additional Responsibilities of the County Historian
The County Historian also supervises the activities of town and village historians, offering guidance and support, and serving as a liaison between local historians and the State Historian. It is the responsibility of the County Historian to hold regular meetings of the town and village historians, to promote collaborative projects, and to assist local historians whenever possible.
As a public officer, the Historian is responsible for making the materials within the County Department of History accessible to the community. Regular hours will be held and adequate effort will be made to make any and all materials available for public consumption.
Theta Hakes Brown: 1938-1944
Joseph B. Achilles: 1944-1957
Cary Harling Lattin: 1958-1974
Arden McAllister: 1975-1978
Cary Wilson "Bill" Lattin: 1979-2014