Gerry Smith

The Changing

of the Guard

Roger Luther

For decades now you’ve known Gerry Smith as our Broome County Historian. A position entrusted with guarding, promoting, researching and sharing our very history. It’s from our past that we learn about who we are and where we come from. And it’s what Gerry tells us is the best part of his career… working with all the great people here and sharing in their stories.

Gerry grew up in Binghamton. His father and mother were no strangers to hard work having two farms and even a beauty shop that his mother opened when she was just 19. In high school Gerry loved anything to do with history but also enjoyed drawing and painting. His love for history brought him to B.C.C. and then SUNY where he received his Masters. To pay for Grad School Gerry took a job at the Binghamton Public Library as a library clerk. It paid only $75 a week but it allowed him to continue his studies, and most importantly, it put Gerry on a path that would become the career he has enjoyed for some 40 years as he went from the Library Clerk to Library Assistant and then the County and City Historian, teacher and author.

Gerry has helped our community in so many ways like putting together the Local History & Genealogy Center at the library, and the All-Wars Memorial. One memory dear to him was of a woman who lived in New England. She was born here and given up for adoption with almost no information of her biological mother except a hospital name. In just two hours Gerry was able to reunite the mother and daughter ending their 50 year search. That’s a memory we can all be proud of.

Now retiring from his official role Gerry plans to finish writing his 6th book while continuing to teach at SUNY Broome, writing for the Press and helping out at the Library. Doesn’t really sound like a retirement, but he is happy to say he will now have more time to spend with family and take some long awaited trips.

Thank you Gerry for all you’ve done to capture our history and being a friend to all! 

Welcome Broome County’s new historian Roger Luther, a position Roger was destined to hold.  As Executive Director of the Preservation Association of the Southern Tier, Board Trustee for the Broome County Historical Society, published author of two publications  Expressions of Faith – Exploring the Religious Structures of Broome County and Treasures of the Tier – Exploring Historic Properties in New York’s Southern Tier, originator and writer for his website, columnist for the Press’ Treasures of the Tier and daily post contributor of local news items “100 Years Ago Today” on the “Historic Binghamton” Facebook group Roger is the best qualified person any county could ever ask for.

History is Roger’s passion. “I’ve had a strong interest in history and architectural photography dating back to my work with the historic R.A. Moog Company in 1972. On moving to Binghamton in 1999, I immediately began researching the New York State Inebriate Asylum and local history in general. Since then I have researched, photographed and written about hundreds of landmark structures in the area.“

Roger says there are so many incredible stories he has written including the discovery of 5000 glass plate negatives that were taken 100 years ago and finding a personal daily journal of a patent at the Binghamton State Hospital in the 1950s.

Roger says “there are a few aspects of Broome County history that make it especially unique. From cigars to shoes to computers, in its heyday local industry supplied product globally, and in so doing, built this community by drawing families here from around the world. Local industry leaders set a standard of excellence for fair and ethical treatment of employees that I believe is unsurpassed to this day.”

Roger hopes as the Broome County Historian he can make some changes including sharing our history through different outlets by various collaboration efforts.

Roger says he is excited at the possibilities and “I look forward to discussing local history and learning more from visitors to the Local History Center. Please feel free to contact me anytime”.

The Broome County Local History and Genealogy Center is located on the second floor of the Broome County Public Library. The Center incorporates the local history and genealogy holdings of the Broome County Public Library, the Broome County Historical Society, the Broome County Historian and the City of Binghamton Historian. The Center is open Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday 9a.m. – 5:p.m. and Tues. 12p.m. – 8p.m.