BETHEL – The Bethel Historical Society is celebrating 40 years in 2006.

Eighteen individuals began what has become the Bethel Historical Society at a meeting in the Bethel Library in May 1966. Those designated as charter members by the leading founder, Eva Bean, included Bryant Bean, Margaret Carter Bean, Elizabeth Mason Carter, Philip and Mary Chadbourne, Rosalind Rowe Chapman, Edith H. Eypper, Agnes H. Haines, Floribel Haines, Ralph Hall, Edith K. Howe, Geraldine S. Howe, Bernice H. Noyes, Vance and Janet Richardson, Faye S. Taylor and Nell W. Valentine.

During this year, the society will celebrate the 40th anniversary of its founding with a number of observances and special programs, including an oral history night in May and a historical highlight presentation at the annual meeting in September. The organization was incorporated in 1971.

The society has grown to more than 1,300 members in most states of the union, as well as several Canadian provinces and European nations. It owns two buildings valued at more than $1 million, maintains an endowment of more than $600,000 and possesses a collection estimated conservatively at more than $200,000. Its budget exceeds $100,000 annually.

The society is dedicated to collecting, preserving and interpreting the regional past for present and future generations. Activities have included lectures, exhibits, special events, heritage festivals, workshops, conferences, school and educational programs and publications.

For more information, call 824-2908 or 800-824-2910, send an e-mail to [email protected] or visit

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