With the recent severe weather, not only museum folks but individuals as well are thinking of ways to preserve and keep safe the special items that they own.
A museum has several such needs. One is upkeep, care and preservation of the records of the items given to the museum. The lists of those things in our Fremont County Historical Museum’s possession, written carefully and lovingly in what is known as “The Accession Book,” are vital information to be safely kept in a place where they will not be destroyed by flood or tornado or whatever nature throws its direction.
Volunteers have recently done the tremendous task of entering on a computer disc every item given to the museum. Copies of the discs were made; one is in the file in the museum office, and the master copy is in a bank lock box.
We have also taken digital pictures of every display and every valuable item in the museum. These pictures have been burned on discs and are stored, along with the accession book records, in the bank, with additional copies in our museum office files. The same copying and storage has been completed for the Ferrel House Museum accessioning lists and the pictures from that building.
The Museum’s Archives also contain permanent collections consisting of photographs, postcards and other printed paper materials, as well as books related to the history of southwestern Iowa. The Genealogy Department has a reference library and informational files containing data useful in historic and family research. As soon as time permits, members of the preservation committee will be scanning these items so copies will be available to use by the public.
Individuals need to preserve their own special papers and valuable possessions in a similar manner. Taking pictures of items in your home, listing them and including a little of their history, is important for future generations to have available. Copies need to be kept in a safe place outside the home.
In the same manner, taking care of the treasures donated to a museum are a part of the task of every historical society. It is an obligation to those who have shared their lives, their stories and their precious items, to keep them and records of their existence as safe as possible.