On April 11, 1919, Governor Al Smith signed into law Assembly Bill #160, which added new sections to the Education Law and created the "office of local historian for each city, town, or village except in New York City." The bill had been introduced by Assemblyman Louis M. Martin of Oneida County as a way collect municipalities' history as well as protect historical records. Assemblyman Martin worked closely with New York State Historian James Sullivan on the language of the bill, which Sullivan saw as instrumental to help the Office of State History collect information from municipalities across the state on New York's role in World War I.
The work of Local Government Historians continues now into their 100th year of existence and New York State was the first state in the nation to pass such a law. Local Government Historians do a variety of activities related to the preservation and promotion of their municipality's history including research and writing, public programs, exhibits, leading historical anniversaries and celebrations, tours, working with teachers and students, and historic preservation activities, among many others. The Office of State History will be celebrating the work of Local Government Historians throughout 2019.