Unearthing History in Flagler County: Bill Ryan's Journey from Photographs to Local Lore

Unearthing History in Flagler County: Bill Ryan’s Journey from Photographs to Local LoreDiscover Bill Ryan’s quest to uncover Flagler County’s history, from photography to preserving local lore and community-driven historical projects.

The video features a comprehensive interview with Bill Ryan, a senior historian from the Flagler County Historical Society (FCHS), conducted by a University of North Florida history intern Simon Crasser. The conversation delves into Ryan’s extensive experience and contributions to the preservation and exploration of local history in Flagler County.

  • Background and Early Involvement: Bill Ryan shares his rich background, including his career in Europe in the photographic industry and his eventual move to Palm Coast, Florida, about 26 years ago. His journey into local historical work began with a visit to the local library, leading to his involvement with the Flagler County Historical Society.
  • Initial Projects: One of Ryan’s first major projects was “Flagler Memories,” which involved interviewing local residents of Flagler County using early digital cameras. This project aimed to capture and preserve the personal histories and experiences of the county’s inhabitants, including veterans.
  • Challenges and Solutions: Ryan discusses the technical and logistical challenges they faced in preserving and sharing the interviews, initially attempting to use CD discs for distribution. He also details the establishment of the first website for the county to host and share these historical records.
  • Discovering Local History: Through his work, Ryan unearthed a wealth of historical information about Flagler County, such as the significance of Old King’s Road and various other historically important sites. His efforts helped bring to light the rich history of the area that was largely unknown or forgotten.
  • Importance of Community Engagement: The interview highlights the crucial role of community involvement in uncovering and preserving history. Ryan’s work with local tours and online platforms facilitated a greater public interest and participation in local history.
  • Personal Motivation: Ryan expresses a deep passion for history, influenced by his travels and experiences in Europe and his work in various capacities related to writing and storytelling. His commitment to historical preservation is driven by the belief in the importance of understanding history to better navigate the present and future.
  • Legacy and Challenges for Future Historians: Finally, Ryan reflects on the ongoing challenges in maintaining interest and funding for historical preservation. He emphasizes the necessity of financial support for libraries and historical societies to continue their work and the importance of passing on knowledge to future generations to avoid the repetition of past mistakes.

You can watch the full interview here: Historian Interview – Bill Ryan 01.15.2024.

Author: FCHS