Palm Coast People: Volunteers make Palm Coast history come alive

She’s dedicated to making sure locals know that Palm Coast has its own historical society.
With a jokingly perplexed yet determined voice, Elaine Studnicki said, “A lot of people are surprised to find out that we do indeed have our own historical society here in Palm Coast. It’s my job and my goal to make our local population more familiar with what the historical society has to offer.”
Studnicki, current president of the Palm Coast Historical Society and one of its two co-historians, has always been a history buff, she said.
“History is fun and it’s important to know,” she said. “It is interesting to see how there are threads of events that go all through our history and knowing those threads is what helps us to make good decisions.”
So when James Canfield, the city’s first mayor, asked her to help out with the historical society, Studnicki said she couldn’t resist.
At the time, she was a recent retiree from New Jersey and was herself interested in learning more about how Palm Coast came to exist.
“I had been working with the society for the previous ten years and it was a matter for me of learning the history of where I was now living and getting the chance to work with good people,” she said. “It was the good people that made me want to stay involved with the historical society.”
The society had just begun the process of transitioning its document storage to an electronic format when Studnicki came on board.
Today, the process continues as Studnicki said, “Fifty plus years,” referencing how long the city of Palm Coast has formally existed. “That is a lot of information.”
She trains volunteers on how to use new technologies such as loading videos to YouTube.
“Some of the technologies being used now are ones that some volunteers don’t have experience with,” Studnicki acknowledges. “But I know they can do it, because if I can do it, they can do it too. This is what I say to everyone: ‘Come on and give it a go.”
Sounds like an unofficial recruiting motto, but Studnicki has some ambitions goals for the historical society.
She’d like to significantly increase its membership to include local business partners.
She’s also organized the society’s first “academy” scheduled for January 2023.
Similar to the citizen’s academy hosted by the city, Studnicki said the historical academy is an opportunity for locals and newcomers to learn more about the area’s historical background.
The event is set for each of January’s five Tuesdays from 3 to 6 PM at the community center. Cost is $40 per participant and includes two books about history in Palm Coast and Flagler County written by two authors.
Studnicki also plans to ramp up the society’s “speaker’s series” in 2023.
When she isn’t at the historical society offices, Studnicki is often found working on her golf game or playing horseshoes.
But her mind is rarely very far from topics of history. As she discussed what she calls a “gorgeous course out on the Old Dixie Highway,” where she enjoys playing horseshoes, Studnicki said, “You know a lot of people ask about how the roads were named here in Palm Coast. I am right now looking at a great book sitting here on the shelf at the historical society building that explains it all.”
She also serves on the county’s cultural board — another appointment that fits in well with her work with the historical society.
The Palm Coast Historical Society located at 18 Florida Drive Park North is open on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 1 to 3 PM or by appointment. Contact the Palm Coast Historical Society by call (386) 283-5929 or visit its website at
— Amy Armstrong