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The History Center in Tompkins County announced that the outstanding work of key volunteers, Kristin Yarnell and Judith Kinney, is being recognized by the Museum Association of New York.

Kristin Yarnell and Judith Kinney will each receive an 'Achievement Award' as part of the Museum Association of New York's 2018 conference 'Visioning Change'. The Award Ceremony will take place at 8:00 AM on Monday, April 9, 2018 at the Hyatt Regency Rochester. Achievement Awards recognize devoted staff and volunteers who are instrumental in moving their organizations forward over a sustained period. Nominations are accepted for individuals or a team of staff and/or volunteers.

Volunteers Kristin Yarnell and her mother, Judith Kinney, have each made truly inspirational contributions to the success of HistoryForge, an interactive web environment for exploring local history that is being developed in open-source software to provide insights into the history of any community.

Yarnell has been a pillar of the HistoryForge project since its inception. She was first involved with The History Center when she was a student/intern at Tompkins Cortland Community College (TC3) working on a class exhibit installation at the History Center. Here she became acquainted with the planning for HistoryForge -- at this point no more than a skeletal proposal. As a self-described ͞data nut͟ she was quickly hooked and just as quickly became an essential player in planning and implementing the project, bringing to it her deep knowledge of data formats, spreadsheet design and SQL database structures

Yarnell works as a Data Integrity Specialist in Syracuse, ensuring that the data used by her coworkers is accurate and reliable. Her background in databases is an advantage in working with the project's programmer to continually improve the program's features and functions.

One of Yarnell's most enduring contributions came early in the project when the first transcription session was being organized. The History Center still has her email which reads in full 'Can I bring my mother?' The rest is history, as the saying goes.

Kinney, has been a mainstay of the transcription effort since that initial session. Transcribers often work in pairs for efficiency, one reading from the census schedule, the other entering the data. The Kristin and Judy transcription team became a mighty engine moving the project forward. It is possible to work alone at home, of course, andKinney quickly supplemented her session work with an inspirational at-home effort. History Center officials say it would be no exaggeration to say that Kinney has entered a quarter of all the census records, 3,000-4,000 records, each consisting of over twenty data points. In the process she has grown from an accomplished reader--the cursive (sometimes cursed) scripts of the enumerators were child's play for the former nurse--to a full-bore transcriber wielding all the supporting data sources on her wide split-screen monitor.

Their dedication and hard work is bringing history alive for contemporary Ithacans, and sets the foundation for all communities adopting the product. The Kristin/Judy team represents the best of HistoryForge -- the collaborative spirit and willing engagement with historical documents to create a powerful tool for understanding local history that any community can use.

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