The Stewart Bell, Jr. Archives at Handley Regional Library received the Commonwealth Award from the Virginia Genealogical Society (VGS) on Saturday, April 20 in Mechanicsville, VA.
According to the VGS website, "The Commonwealth Award recognizes other societies or organizations within the state for performing outstanding service in the promotion of genealogical study. Achievements in this area would include maintaining a genealogical research library, preserving local records, improving genealogical education through special projects, compiling widely accessible electronic databases, and producing high quality publications."
The quality and popularity of Stewart Bell, Jr. Archives is demonstrated the distance people travel to use the resources. In 2012, there were 2,758 visitors from 46 states and 1 foreign country that came to Winchester to do their research.
The staff of the Stewart Bell, Jr. Archives works diligently to promote and preserve local history, as well as to provide online access to over 10,000 local photographs. In addition, an extensive collection of both primary and secondary source materials for individuals and researchers interested in the region dating back to 1732 can be accessed on site with many collections of the archives described on the library's webpage.
Handley Regional Library and the Winchester-Frederick County Historical Society jointly own and run the archives as a nonprofit. Rebecca Ebert directs the day to day operations of the archives and has been its archivist since the repository was established in 1979.
Upon receiving the award, Rebecca Ebert commented "We were honored to be acknowledged by the Virginia Genealogical Society. This is a testament to the joint activities between the library and the historical society and could not have been achieved without the dedication of our staff and all the volunteers who have served for the past 34 years."