The Ithaca Rotary Club received the 2010 Annual Rotary District Club Service award for its efforts to collect, organize and preserve its history. Club President Janet Steiner said that she hoped that the award would stimulate other Rotary Clubs to recognize the importance of maintaining their history and take active steps to ensure that their archives are well-organized and that historical records are collected on an ongoing basis.

The Ithaca Rotary Club is fortunate to have its archives permanently housed at Cornell University's Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections. Twenty six boxes (28 cubic feet) of our history, since our founding in 1905, have been collected. These items include scrapbooks, correspondence, attendance sheets, books, pamphlets, minutes of meetings, photographs, membership records and rosters, plaques, awards, tape recordings, bound and unbound issues of our newsletter, news clippings, brochures, certificates and related records.


In reviewing the archives, it was clear that the contents of the boxes arrived in many different shipments over the years. Some were roughly labeled but lacked detailed descriptions. Items added between 1988 - 2002 lacked description and were simply labeled "Additional Material" It also appeared that the archives lacked the most recent decade of the Ithaca Rotary Club's history.


The Ithaca Rotary Club's Board of Directors acknowledged the need to be a good steward of our history and to take steps to ensure that our archives are well-organized, complete and up-to-date. Cornell University acknowledged the value of the collection and its potential use for a number of researchers. Working together, both organizations signed onto a proposal in which the Ithaca Rotary Club funded an archival intern in its 2009-2010 budget and Cornell agreed to undertake a re-organization of the Rotary archives.


 Working under the direction of a professional archivist at Cornell University, the intern has undertaken a comprehensive review of our archives. We have gathered new material from many recent past presidents (who were only too grateful to see their Rotary files find a new home). Oral histories of past presidents, a project undertaken several years ago, have been re-discovered and added to the archives.


The collection has been completely surveyed, organized and re-housed in archival quality folders and boxes. Duplicate items have been de-accessioned. A box of Rotary documents housed at the DeWitt Historical Society were transferred to Cornell.  A list of missing (but important) documents will be created in the hopes that they could still be found. A finding aid to the collection, listing each folder, will be created to provide on-line access to the records. The project is expected to be completed on time (June 30, 2010) and on budget.


As the Ithaca Rotary Club begins planning for its centennial celebration in 2015, the archives will be immensely important in reconstructing our history, both written and pictorial.