Lighthouses have always been tourist attractions. At some point keepers were instructed to track the number of visitors to their stations. This may have been when the practice of guests signing a register started.
Jennifer Niemi, program manager at Split Rock Lighthouse, a state historic site maintained by the Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS), submits the following query to other lighthouse stewards:
Our site has been gathering DATE, NAME, CITY, STATE & ZIP literally forever (starting with the USLHS, then Coast Guard & now MNHS) and then the filled registries get stored to never be looked upon again. We are trying to figure out if we can use the information for something useful or if we should just scrap the whole practice, as in its current state it’s quite useless information. The only real reason for doing it is because it has been done historically at the site.
Jennifer would like lighthouse stewards to answer the following questions:
- Do you use guest registers for visitors to sign in where they are from?
- If so, what do you ask them to share (name, city, zip, etc.)?
- And what do you do with that information?
Please submit your responses directly to Jennifer at email@example.com. She will prepare a summary for a followup post.
Based on query submitted by Jennifer Niemi on January 9, 2017.
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Candace was the US Lighthouse Society historian from 2016 until she passed away in August 2018. She worked for 30 years with lighthouse history. She also worked with the National Parks System, and the Council of American Maritime Museums. She was a noted historical author and the most knowledgable person on lighthouse historical information at the National Archives. Books by Candace Clifford include: Women who Kept the Lights, Mind the Light Katie, a History of Thirty-eight Female Lighthouse Keepers and Maine Lighthouses, Documentation of their Past.