Johanna Porr Yuan, Orange County Historian
With a foundation wall adjacent to a colonial era cemetery on the verge of collapse, emergency measures were taken to remove accumulations of dirt from the basement of an old building known locally as Weigands Tavern. Cleared for disposal by the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and destined for a dumpster, laborers spotted several ancient objects and made a snap decision to pile and tarp the dirt in a back yard for further examination. Owner Thomas Dodd invited the Orange County Historian to take a look and soon a community driven archaeological survey developed onsite. Led by Yaun, word went out and local volunteers showed up to dig and screen dirt throughout July of 2021 and many interesting objects were discovered.
Johanna Porr Yuan is the full-tile county historian in Orange County, New York. Unknown to most people, every municipality is required to have an historian. Many counties do not. Even fewer have full-time historians. I am mentioning this precisely because it is so unusual in the 62 counties in New York.
I first met the speaker when she was an Historical Interpreter, Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site, Newburgh. Her responsibilities included researching history of the site and museum, writing and presenting lectures related to the impact of Gen. George Washington, leading tours of the historic house during open season hours including of the teachers I would bring to the site, designing and leading school programs, digitizing paper records, and creating public programming. During her time there, she received a B.A., from SUNY New Paltz, with a major in anthropology and a minor in history. She then received a Masters in Public Administration from Marist College with a concentration in Public History. Subsequently she became the Director, Historical Society of Newburgh Bay & the Highlands and the County Historian. She is in charge of the upcoming American Revolution 250th celebration for Orange County.