Marlene Magness Presented the Burley-Hunter Award
Written by El Penski, March 1998

On the 23-rd of February 1998 at 14-th Annual Winter Conference of The Small Museums Association. Inc. in Ocean City, Maryland; Marlene Magness was presented the Burley-Hunter Award. The Small Museums Association, Incorporated represents over a hundred small museums in the Middle Atlantic Region. One Burley-Hunter Award is annually given for an individual's contributions to the advancement of public access and professional growth of an individual institution in the region

Mrs. Marlene Magness received the Burley-Hunter Award for her work for The Historical Society of Harford County. She has been the Society's major driving force for many years. She has served in the following volunteer positions:

  • President from January 1996 until December 1997.
  • Archives Committee Chair from 1980 to the present.
  • Board of Directors from 1979 to the present.
  • Vice-President from January 1980 until December 1981.
  • Recording Secretary during 1975 and 1976.

Not many years ago the Historical Society of Harford County's collection was scattered over several locations in the County. For many years, Mrs. Magness led the effort to have the current Headquarters building of the Historical Society of Harford County transferred from the US Postal Service to Harford County and from the County to the Historical Society of Harford County. As a result, in 1997 the Society fulfilled a long standing (over a century) dream of owning a permanent home.

 Photographed in February 1994 Headquarters, Photographed in February 1994 by El Penski

Due to her outstanding leadership, the Historical Society of Harford County became to the forefront of historical societies in the use of computer science despite much opposition in the Society and many problems. The Society initiated a web page and e-mail in 1996. In 1996 and 1997 many databases (catalogs, inventories, family records, etc.) were established and being used. Also, computer graphics was initiated for use to copy, enlarge, preserve, and clarify old colored documents.

Under her direction, an endowment fund was established in 1997 and built up to over $50,000. She presided over an effort to provide a continuous source of funds to the Society from marriage ceremony funds that resulted in the enactment of 1997 Maryland House Bill 304.

While serving as the President, she also continued to serve as Archives Chair. During her nineteen years as Archives Chair, she trained and supervised on an average of eight volunteers for a total estimated 45,000 hours of work resulting in one of the best County Archives to be found anywhere. She currently has 13 volunteers working on archives.

Mrs. Magness has encouraged many activities to develop the volunteer staff. These include encouraging Board of Directors members to attend Small Museum Association Conferences, and in some cases and providing them with transportation to the meetings. Without her tireless encouragement, no one would have attended any Small Museum Association Conferences. She has trained many volunteers in the protection, encapsulation, cataloging, and storage of valuable documents. Her efforts resulted in a drastic improving the management of the Hays House of Bel Air so that through the fall it was opened weekly instead of monthly. Also, 25 new docents have been trained in 1997.

In September 1997, Mrs. Magness brought in a speaker to train the Board of Directors in Development and Leadership. She has worked to improve the Black history collection and has contacted numerous groups to add Jewish history documents to the Society's collection. In September 1997 the Harford Artist Association held their 30-th Anniversary Exhibition at the Society due mainly to the efforts of Mrs. Magness.

Mrs. Magness is known as being very friendly, outgoing, intelligent, honest, and kind. She works closely with the County Executive, County Council, County employees, State Senators, and Delegates, the Chamber of Commerce. She has served many County organizations such as the Fallston Planning Council (1995- present), County Board of Library Trustees (1989-1993), and County Historic Preservation Commission (1992- present). These connections have resulted in concrete financial, technical, and building maintenance support for the Society, such as grants from the County, donations from businesses, etc. Many of the volunteers remain with the Society only due to their personal attachment and great respect for Mrs. Magness.

Mrs. Magness graduated from Goucher College (BA, 1953, English) and she was in the Women's Management Development Program at Goucher College from 1980 to 1981. She was a Department of Social Services caseworker (1953-1957); a production planner at AAI Corporation from 1981 to 1986; the owner/manager of Duncale Farm from 1980 to 1994; and Chief Election Judge from 1970 to 1974.

Harford County Chronology