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Local historical societies to benefit from grant

May 25, 2016
Westfield Republican

The Ralph C. Sheldon Foundation is supporting an initiative by the Chautauqua County Historical Society and two local historians to provide training, archival supplies and assistance to five local historical organizations. Pam Brown and Michelle Henry, historians and trained records managers, are spearheading the project with administrative support from the County Historical Society. The participating historical organizations are Harmony Historical Society, Findley Lake & Mina Historical Society, Sherman's Yorker Museum, Clymer Historical Society, and the Cherry Creek History Museum.

"The majority of this country's historical documents and artifacts are held in small museums, not the Smithsonian or the National Archives. It takes special care and handling to preserve these treasures, and most local museums do not have the expertise or resources to catalog and store their collections properly," according to Michelle Henry, County Historian. "We are so grateful to the Sheldon Foundation for understanding the significance of these collections and supporting our efforts to take care of them."

"We certainly appreciate the support of the Sheldon Foundation and the Chautauqua County Historical Society to make this project a reality. Our project participants are pleased they will be able to preserve their collections for future generations," states Pam Brown, Town of Harmony and Village of Panama Historian.

Article Photos

Submitted photo
Pam Brown, grant manager, instructs Kimberly Hodges, SUNY Fredonia student, in using museum software to catalog collections.

Cristie Herbst, president of the county Historical Society, notes that the vast majority of efforts to preserve local historical archives in Chautauqua County is done by volunteers.

"The collections of historical documents are the primary assets and the most important responsibility of local historical organizations" Herbst said. "Thanks to the Sheldon Foundation grant, we are taking the first steps to ensure that the volunteers who take care of them will have the expertise and materials they need."

With the grant, the participants will learn how to inventory, catalog, and store their collections in archival boxes and folders. Brown and Henry will work with museum volunteers so that they can continue to improve their collections after the grant concludes. Students from SUNY-Fredonia's Museum Studies program have also been involved in the project, getting in-the- field experience working with historical collections and archives.



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