Wednesday, May 15, 2013

New historical database software improving History Center’s archiving and display abilities

by Nancy McCammon-Hansen

When you are a historical society with well over 26,000 artifacts that have been collected in your 92 year history, finding means to easily archive and display everything in your collection can be a challenge. But new software at the History Center is being utilized to alleviate some of the challenges faced in this process.

Over the winter and spring, textiles and shoes in the History Center’s collection have been photographed and entered into the new database. In the process of this work, employees rediscovered a seldom-seen artifact dating from the 1850s.

One side of a banner is on display in the museum’s first floor gallery exhibit on local education. But the back side has been in storage for over three decades and is an example of the kinds of artifacts that aren’t on display due to lack of space for properly displaying them. But the new database and accompanying photos will provide researchers with an opportunity to view more of the History Center’s collection via computer.

According to the item description, likely originally written by a volunteer of the historical society in its early days, this banner “was carried in a procession celebrating the opening of the first free Public School in Fort Wayne in 1853.  The Banner was made by Mrs. A.S. Hulburd, who with her husband, presided over the school. The procession wound up in a picnic at Ewing’s Grove. Mr. Hulburd preserved the banner, and many years after, Amos Richey Sr, visiting in New York City, met him, Mr. Hulburd then being a resident of the Metropolis. While calling at the Hulburd’s home, Mr. H. brought out the old banner and recalled the old celebration. Said he, ‘You are the boy who carried this banner, Mr. Richey, and as I shall soon pass on, I think it appropriate that the banner should go into your keeping.’ The banner was subsequently treasured by the Richey’s until after the death of Mrs. Richey, (who was many years a widow), in 1927, when her daughter, Mrs. Arthur Hadley, presented it to the Historical Society Museum, in June, 1928.”

After the Historical Society acquired the banner, it was mounted between two pieces of glass and installed in the door of one of the book cases in the Reading Room of the society’s museum, which was at that time in the Old Swinney Homestead.

The banner is “white china silk” and on the side that is currently on exhibit, the wording reads “Knowledge is power….Our march is onward”. The side of the banner that is in storage reads “Republicanism” at the top with a painting of a young woman standing on a platform labeled “Education” and “Virtue”.

As photographing and re-cataloging of the historical society’s artifacts continues, more stories such as this will begin appearing on the History Center’s blog.

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