Oysterponds Historical Society hires new director with strong LI roots

Oysterponds Historical Society

Elsbeth Linn Dowd is traveling across the country from Oklahoma to return to Long Island to serve as Oysterponds Historical Society’s new director.

After growing up in Huntington Station, Dr. Dowd went on to earn an undergraduate degree in art and archaeology from Princeton University and a Ph.D. in anthropology at the University of Oklahoma.

“Growing up on Long Island, I don’t think I ever really appreciated the deep history that was there,” she said in an interview Monday. “I love Oklahoma, but I miss my family. I miss my friends. I miss the Sound and I really miss fresh seafood, but I definitely encourage everyone to get away from where they grew up in order to broaden their horizons.”

Elsbeth Linn DowdDr. Dowd’s passion is in Native American history, which she said has a strong presence in Oklahoma. After college, she became a registrar at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History in Norman, Okla. Her job there involves making sure the museum follows federal and state laws when collecting artifacts. She also does some work with arranging artifacts, opening exhibits and organizing educational programming.

As director at Oysterponds Historical Society, Dr. Dowd said she’ll do similar tasks. In addition, she’ll be working with the society’s board of trustees to implement their master plan, review its disaster management plan and locate a better storage facility to house historic artifacts and archival documents that cannot be replaced.

In addition to overseeing day-to-day operations, Dr. Dowd hopes to enhance the historical society’s offerings.

“I want to see about including more diversity and gathering more oral history collections of longtime residents,” she said.

John Holzapfel, the society’s president, said he and other board members loved Dr. Dowd’s ideas and direction. He added that she has all the qualities they were looking for and was selected from among roughly 30 candidates.

“We were looking for a professional that was experienced, interested in the community and willing to take on a very large job,” Mr. Holzapfel said. “She was qualified in all of these areas.”

After living in Oklahoma for 11 years, Dr. Dowd said she’s very excited to return to Long Island and believes being away has helped her develop an appreciation for its history. She will begin her new role next month — just in time for one of the historical society’s biggest events, North Fork Fresh. The fundraiser features food and drink tastings from the area’s most popular restaurants, vineyards and shops.

“I look forward to spending a beautiful summer on Long Island,” Dr. Dowd said, “and encouraging the knowledge of Long Island’s history among adults and young people.”

Photos: (Top) Oysterponds Historical Society’s headquarters in Orient. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch); (Bottom) Elsbeth Linn Dowd (Credit: Courtesy)