After nearly a quarter of a century as Executive Director of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, Dr. Ralph J. Crandall has decided to retire from that position, effective upon the hiring of his successor.
Ralph was hired by NEHGS in 1974 and then assumed the role of Executive Director in the early 1980s when the Society was in difficult times. The society had about ten employees and a dwindling cash reserve at the time. In fact, there were serious fears that the society might be facing bankruptcy before long. Ralph took charge, turned the finances around, started new projects and grew the staff.
Today, the New England Historic Genealogical Society has a membership of more than 20,000 members, an endowment that is approaching twenty million dollars and a staff of about fifty employees. In addition, the society has continued to publish its scholarly Register quarterly uninterrupted for 158 years, launched a new bi-monthly magazine and conducted a multi-million renovation of the society's headquarters building that included a major expansion of the society's library. In recent years, NEHGS has created what appears to be the largest and most active web site of any genealogy society. The NewEnglandAncestors.org web site contains more than 100 million names in its databases, all published with scholarly accuracy.
While stepping down as Executive Director, Ralph is making it clear that he is not retiring. As soon as his successor is named, Ralph will assume title of Executive Director Emeritus and will lead the Society's New England Town and Family Records Project. In a recent letter to all Society members, Ralph wrote:
I am delighted to have the opportunity to continue with the Society in these new roles, and I look forward to having the time to organize and oversee the New England Town and Family Records Project. This program will allow me to resume my early scholarly interest in New England studies, which I pursued as a young PhD, and with which I was closely associated, as Editor of the New England Historical and Genealogical Register, from 1974 to 1982. I am grateful to those members who have given so generously to make the New England Town and Family Records Project possible.
On a personal note, I will say that I have known Ralph Crandall casually for more than a decade and have more recently worked for him for nearly two years. While I am saddened to see him step down, I also must congratulate him on a very successful career. Ralph appears to have been the most effective Executive Director in the 160-year history of the New England Historic Genealogical Society. I am also delighted to hear that he will remain on board to lead the New England Town and Family Records Project.