As curator of a local historical society, questions come my way concerning the acquisition of society displays and artifacts. Some visitors want to know the 'his' or 'her' story of our piece. Others may call and inquire if we would like to have a specific item donated to our collection. It is these moments that depict the generosity and connections community members make. Our society was fortunate that the eight founders not only saved our site from a preplanned demolition in 1945, but that they had the wherewithal to acquire in any creative means possible the generational pieces and primary sources of the village and maritime heritage. Our collections date back to 1850 and some architectural renderings approach 1812. Photos, journals, diaries, signage, manufacturing items and nautical memorabilia have all found their way into our permanent collection via the community at large. In 2009, a shipping firm lawyer, a retired teacher, a local resident and others had items they wished to share with us and our visitors. This year saw the acquisition of a Brig Niagara sign, Diamond Shamrock items, and Great Lakes freighter models. Again, the generosity of others and their random acts of kindness help our society preserve the sentiment of our village and the maritime history of the Great Lakes.
What is to be gleaned from this writing is simply this. Each and every one of us is a steward to history. The black and white family photo, the old piece of clothing, a broken piece of furniture all have a story. The old box of 'junk' in the attic or basement may contain some historical anecdote or biographical insight. Quite often the newspapers of the day were used to wrap these stored items. What a story they can tell. So the next time you discard or think recycling, ask yourself if the story being discarded may have another life at your local historical society. They are a phone call, e-mail, or visit away.
Historic Lake County Alliance Members: Eastlake Historical Society, Fairport Harbor Historical Society, Heart of Willoughby, Historic Downtown Willoughby, Indian Museum, James A Garfield NHS, Kirtland Temple, Lake County Historical Center, Madison Historical Society, Perry Historical Society, Rabbitt Run, St. Hubert's Church, Wickliffe Historical Society, Willoughby Hills Historical Society, Willoughby Welcome Center