Out of the Clock Tower

Hello and welcome to the Greene County Archives' blog, "Out of the Clock Tower".  Please join us as we share information on archival issues, news, special events, and highlights from our collection.

Before the archives program began in Greene County in 1996, permanent records were stored in every conceivable space, in basements, garages, and closets. Usually they were in boxes of various shapes and sizes, although seldom adequately labeled, but occasionally they were just in loose piles of books and papers. Most notable were the old records stuffed into the clock tower of the County Courthouse, where they shared their home with pigeon droppings.

Now, there is a clean, environmentally controlled, well appointed location for the county archives, where our historical records are housed in standard sized boxes on steel shelves. We have taken note of their journey in the name for our blog.

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Jul 01

Happy Retirement, Joan!

Posted on July 1, 2022 at 9:48 AM by Melissa Dalton

This week, we celebrated the retirement of our long-time assistant, Joan Donovan. Joan has been an institution here at the Archives. While working in Microfilm, Joan was asked if she would be willing to provide coverage at the Archives during lunch, and eventually, they brought her on full-time… and the rest is history!

Joan sitting at her desk (PNG)Joan sitting at her computer desk

What can we say about Joan? Joan lives and breathes Xenia and Greene County history. She has lived here her entire life and is one of the most knowledgeable people I know, and not just about the local history! Her mind is like a steel trap – she retains dates, names, locations, and some great random facts and trivia (she really should play trivia at one of the local establishments – she would probably win each week). Joan’s knowledge and experience are supreme, and we were lucky to have her on our staff for close to 20 years!

Joan also has a fan club – no joke. We have had researchers call and request to speak to Joan, and when she’s been unavailable, they’ll refuse to speak to anyone else often saying, “she knows what I need”. I can’t say I blame them. Joan knows all the tricks and best places to find particular resources, even the obscure ones. Joan was usually the first person I asked when I couldn’t figure out a research question or find some records. She would always stop what she was doing and help – and typically knew exactly where to go.

Joan holding a framed photograph of our former intern, Amy (JPG)Joan holding a framed photograph of former intern, Amy (Brickey) Czubak.

Joan comes across as quiet and reserved, but once you get her going, she will tell you some fantastic stories. She survived the 1974 Tornado, but her family lost their home. Her father was the Xenia Post Master, and a well-known figure in our region. Joan has deep roots in Greene County and can tell you a great deal about her ancestors and the early settlers. 

Joan, Robin, Elise, and Melissa at the Ugly Christmas Sweater Party, 2019 (JPG)Joan, Melissa, Robin, and Elise at the Ugly Christmas Sweater Party, 2019

As we close out this chapter, I would like to share some words from my colleagues here at the Archives. 

Robin: Over the last seventeen years, Joan has been the “face” of the Archives, greeting patrons and assisting them in their research. Joan’s vast knowledge of local history, her love of genealogy, and knowledge of county records has allowed her to assist many patrons break through some of their genealogical brick walls! One such patron presented Joan with an Oscar for her outstanding research. Joan’s attention to detail allowed her to rediscover “Freedom Papers” among some of the early deed records that are housed in the Archives. These records had long been forgotten, but thanks to Joan, Greene County is one of the few counties in Ohio that has rediscovered these historically valuable records. I commend Joan for her dedication to Greene County and the Archives over the years. We will all miss Joan and wish her well as she begins her new adventure!

Joan holding her 15 years of service award (JPG)Joan holding the Certificate of Appreciation for 15 Years of Service (JPG)

Elise: When I first started here at the Greene County Records Center and Archives, I quickly realized that Joan was very knowledgeable in regards to the Archives’ records and Greene County’s local history. I became like a sponge, trying to soak up all that Joan knew. Whenever she was helping a visitor, I tried to listen attentively, learning how the Archives’ records can help with research. Even after a couple of years of working at the Archives, I still need to ask Joan for clarification on a certain record or local history event. She has always been very helpful to me and I learned a lot from her. I will miss Joan but I cherish the time we worked together. We had fun and a lot of laughs. 

Lori: My time with Joan has been short, but I have learned so much from her. I am working on the piles of study material she has left for me. Her knowledge is an inspiration! She has set the bar high, so I’ll keep this short. Thank you, Joan, for everything!

Joan, thank you for your hard work and dedication. We wish you the best in retirement, but hope you come back and visit us often!

You can see all the photographs from her retirement party on our Facebook page.


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