At the 2009 Annual Conference held in Bangor on September 26, 2009, Maine Genealogical Society presented Valdine Chalmers Atwood with its Award of Excellence in Genealogical Service.
Valdine Chalmers Atwood has long been recognized as the authority on the history and genealogy of the families of the Machias area specifically and Washington County generally. She has been a member of the Washington County Genealogical Society since 1993, in which year it was established, and has served as its Secretary since 1995, its Program chair since 1995 and as its Newsletter editor since 2005.
Val is indefatigable in sharing her knowledge and resources with others. She has participated as a lecturer at two week-long and one day-long genealogical workshops held in Washington County, was a speaker at the MGS 10th anniversary conference in Augusta and at the annual meeting /fall conference held in Ellsworth, was a presenter in the research room at the MGS conference in Machias, has participated in most of the 17 annual genealogy fairs hosted by the Alexander-Crawford Historical Society and the more recent annual fairs of the Charlotte Historical Society, and will be a participant in the genealogy fair to be held in August in conjunction with the bicentennial celebration of Calais. Val has contributed four sketches to the Maine Families in 1790 series, was co-compiler of the vital records of East Machias, which appear as a printed volume in the Maine DAR Miscellaneous Records series, and has made an informal transcription of the Machias vital records.
Val is a long term member of MGS and of NEHGS. In Washington County she is a member of the Machias, Machiasport, Pembroke and Dennysville historical societies.
In 1999 Val was appointed by the Washington County Commissioners as a member of the Washington County Archives Preservation Committee and has served as chairman of this committee since 2002. The committee was charged by the Commissioners to oversee the preservation of the large collection of Washington County newspapers dating back to 1818 to present day, over 600 volumes, stored in the attic of the court house. The committee has overseen either the purchase or microfilming of over half the collection, which microfilming continues as funds become available. Additionally during her time as committee chairman various boxes containing documents of all kinds dating back to the 1830s were “unearthed” from various nooks and crannies of the attic and other locations in the court house, including such items as coroner’s jury reports, county tax and expenditure records, road records, etc. The committee has overseen the inventorying of these records, which in the near future will be available to the public for research.
Val has been a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution for 55 years. She has served as Regent of the Hannah Western Chapter DAR of Machias for 3 years and has served as chapter Secretary for 41 years. In addition, she has been Registrar of the chapter, officially for 2 years and unofficially for 12 years, and has served as chairman of many chapter committees and Chair of the Burnham Tavern Museum, a committee of the chapter, for 38 years.
Val has also served in Maine State Organization, DAR, serving as State Regent 1980-83. In addition, she has served as State Vice-Regent, State Chaplain, and as State Recording Secretary. She has also served as State Chairman of five committees, including Genealogical Records. On the national level DAR Val has served as National Vice Chairman of six committees, as a National Marshall and as National Page.
Val has a large personal library of genealogical materials relating to Washington County which she readily shares with others at the various fairs and at her home. The library was begun by her mother and continues to grow. It contains 17 file draws of data relating to Washington County families, plus 60 lineal feet of notebooks containing vital records, cemetery and historical data for Washington County towns. In addition she has a large collection of published books relating to Washington County, Maine and other New England states, and Canada. Val assists people all over the United States who inquire about their Washington County families. Locally the library, town office and the court house direct researchers to her door so that she can assist them with their family research.