The Evanston History Center is one of 50 institutions from the Midwest selected to participate in a nationwide conservation program organized by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, a federal agency, and Heritage Preservation, a Washington D.C. based, not-for-profit organization.

The Evanston History Center is one of 50 institutions from the Midwest selected to participate in a nationwide conservation program organized by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, a federal agency, and Heritage Preservation, a Washington D.C. based, not-for-profit organization.

As part of Connecting to Collections: Raising the Bar, curator Erin Hagness represented the Evanston History Center in a two day regional conference held in Davenport, Iowa, last week. On the agenda were ways of creating and sustaining conservation plans and engaging the media and the public in the important process of saving the cultural heritage of American communities.

“We are honored to have been among those institutions chosen to participate in this in-depth program,” says Hagness. “Clearly, the IMLS and Heritage Preservation agree with the Evanston History Center that conserving our collections is essential to maintaining a sense of place and collective memory for all the citizens of Evanston.”

The invited participants are eligible to compete for a $3,750 cash award, the winner of which will be announced in March 2011. The award, funded by the Bay and Paul Foundations and the Peck Stacpoole Foundation, is intended to encourage participants to implement what they have learned in the workshops.

“Last week’s conference at the Figge Museum of Art focused on practical approaches to outreach on behalf of collections. We enlisted a team of experienced presenters who described successful projects and worked with participants to develop strategies of their own,” said Marsha L. Semmel, acting director of IMLS. “It will be exciting to see which institution wins the $3,750 cash award for the most significant follow-through based on this workshop.”

The Davenport conference was the second such regional gathering in the national Connecting to Collections initiative. In mid-May, the IMLS and Heritage Preservation held a similar workshop in Baltimore, Maryland, for institutions on the East Coast and in the mid-Atlantic region.

In the fall, IMLS and Heritage Preservation will present a series of webinars featuring topics covered in the Davenport and Baltimore workshops, including outreach through traditional and social media; resource development; public education and outreach; and how best to use the “Connecting to Collections” resources. For more information visit: www.imls.gov/collections.

Hagness underscored the importance of EHC’s participation in the conference. The information gleaned from the conference, coupled with EHC’s continued partnerships with other institutions, will be put to direct use in EHC’s ongoing efforts to preserve its extensive collections.

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1 Comment

  1. Relief for Charlie

     

    According to its Facebook page:

    "The mission of the Evanston History Center is to collect, preserve and interpret the history of the City of Evanston and all its people through exhibits, educational programs and research facilities."

    But what is ‘history’?

     Henry Ford, the automaker and evil Nazi sympathizer, said  "History is more or less bunk"

     Wikipedia defines history as follows :

    "History (from Greek ?στορ?α – historia, meaning "inquiry, knowledge acquired by investigation") is the study of the human past."

      Is history more or less bunk as Ford said, or is it more like its ancient Greek etymology – enquiring minds wanting to know?

    If the Evanston Historical Center really  is concerned about the history of Evanston – collecting and interpreting – I  wonder if the interpretation and educational components would be better served by placing less emphasis on the ‘collection’ and ‘preservation’ of physical objects such as dresses and buildings , and more emphasis on the acquisition of knowledge through enquiry, and interpretation.

      Some specific examples:

       It would be interesting – and reach a lot more people – if the historical documents of Evanston – such as City council archives, newspapers, John Evans’ letters , photos, papers of the founders of Evanston and Northwestern, maps from the 1800’s, etc. – were available online. Can they get Google to scan them? Are there any films of Evanston’s past out there on 8mm? Can someone put them on YouTube.

    Putting these archives together online – along with some explanation and guidance (interpretation)  – would do more to promote knowledge of Evanston’s past than maintaining an old building and collection of fancy clothes.

     For those who want to learn more about history   – and how the actions of    Dawes and inaction of   Ford helped exacerbate the banking crisis of the   Republican Great Depression of 1929 ,  see  Nothing to fear: FDR’s inner circle and the hundred days that created modern America by Adam Cohen (pp 49-53)     It turns out   Dawes  opposed using  the Hoover Administration’s Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC) –  which he headed – to aid banks.  But Dawes’ own bank received aid from the RFC.   Thus Dawes’  RFC was mockingly described as "Relief For Charlie" .

    How much of the Evanston History Center’s budget goes to maintain ‘collections’ and upkeep of the Dawes House  – modern day Relief for Charlie ?  How much goes to enquiry – acquiring knowledge of the past, and dissemination of that knowledge?

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