I admit it, I have been a bit neglectful of my blog lately. So let’s catch up.
We have seen an undocumented number of researchers visiting the HJL this spring. We have had triple digit numbers in February, March and April and are currently on track for triple digits in May. In fact, with the two Archival workshops we hosted in February and March, we saw almost 200 people…both months!
We instituted an Archival Workshop series. January, believe it or not, was snowed out. It was pretty much the only snow we had this year. In February, we hosted a Photograph Preservation Workshop. The 59 attendees learned some basic photograph preservation techniques for their personal collections. In March, yours truly hosted “Why Archives Matter”. This was a look at the history of archival institutions and a look at the history of the Historical Society leading to a discussion on why we are focused on preserving our history. Following that discussion, was an introduction into researching at the HJL, how to locate and request material and the resources we have available. We are currently planning out next year’s series, which will hopefully be run every year between January and April (with snow dates). Possible topics of discussion: Funeral Homes, Pennsylvania Governor John Frederick Hartranft (who served over the trial and execution of the Lincoln Conspirators) given by a descendant and possibly a “Tracing Your Roots” a look at some aspect on Genealogical research.
In April, we hosted members of the Berks County Heritage Council and individuals responsible for their organization’s archives. The workshop was a basic introduction to archives and how to go about organizing, arranging and describing your collections. We also looked at Collections Management, Disaster Preparedness and How to Create Databases. We are looking into the possibility of hosting this workshop again in the fall.
In between assisting researchers and running workshops, we have been busily processing collections and have shortened our backlog significantly. Currently, almost all of the 2011 donations have been processed. Now, I stress almost, due to budget cuts and time constraints, we have left the bigger multi-cubic feet collections until such time as we have the resources to process them. Regardless, when we started 2012 we were still processing 2010 donations. Through a stroke of luck, everything clicked and we are shelving new material as we speak and updating our online databases to reflect these new additions. I will, at some point, release the donation lists on our website and Facebook page for all to see what has come in since the last update. While our bigger collections are not processed, they still are available for research.
For some exciting upcoming news…the HSBC and the Kutztown Folk Festival will be hosting the Pennsylvania Civil War Road Show. This is a multidimensional traveling exhibition in a 53 foot tractor trailer that is traveling the state. The interactive exhibits help to draw and engage the audience into the Pennsylvania experience during the war. You are even asked to participate through an online scrapbook and by leaving your story through their video oral history booth. We ask everyone to tell us your “historic” connection to the Civil War and leave your mark on history. To learn more about the Road Show please visit www.PACivilWar150.com. We here at the HSBC are excited to be hosting this exhibit at the Kutztown Folk Festival, where on average 140,000 people come and visit Berks County over the course of two weeks. In addition to the Road Show, we will be opening our new Civil War Exhibit and hosting a walking tour of Charles Evans Cemetery.
So, while I have missed talking to you all, and I hope you’ve missed me in return, we have been busily working preparing for the summer months ahead. We here at the HJL hope to see all of you at some point during the summer, while you are in researching. Don’t forget to stop by and check out our new exhibit and who can resist the Folk Festival?