Friday, February 25, 2011

More Finds at the Local Antique Shop - Majestic Theatre Playbill

I was about to leave the shop empty handed, when a looseleaf stuffed with ephemera caught my eye. I asked the proprietor to open the glass case and she took it up to the counter for me to browse. This lovely early playbill from the early history of Boston's Majestic Theatre stood out from the other contents for its lovely cover artistry, indicative of the Beaux-Arts / Art Nouveau period.

This item called to me. Perhaps after teaching local second graders about Louis Comfort Tiffany last week as part of their monthly artist enrichment series, this period is on my mind. The turn of the twentieth century was a time for many artists to seek a more modern aesthetic, seeking to offer a new language for a new century.  These particular style(s) of the period were characterized by strong lines and natural elements. The effect was a sort of fancy simplicity of strong curvelinear design used to heighten beauty. This style matched the vision of Tiffany and other artists aiming to make beauty and beautiful decorative things accessible to anyone. Tiffany intended his designs to be affordable. Many artists were hoping that the twentieth century was to be a place of greater equality and greater social understanding.

My little playbill, steeped in the tradition and artistic sensibilities of the time is a perfect fit for the dramatic theater arts. The artist of this image is unknown to me, but his 1907 work matches the design of the 1903 Majestic Theatre building itself.

But within the booklet is a strange combination of advertisements, many relying on old-fashioned design despite the new artistic sensibility. 

This old-fashioned ad with a corseted woman leaning on her husband seems to directly contrast with the modern  woman drawn on the cover of the playbill who lets it all hang out (so to speak)

There is also a strange array of products for the wealthy, such as pianos, furs, white gloves, turkish baths, and chocolates, with few items that would suit a lower class, despite what the nouveau artists believed or wanted for their generation.

We also get a look at some popular culture of the day with an advertisement for Harvard-Yale football and the almost full page portrait of the popular actress Frances Starr.

From a simple piece of ephemera, we can explore the past, learn about the development of culture, try to decipher the sensibilities of a time, and explore community ideals trying to take flight.


Interesting Internet read related to the subject: A Crisis of Tradition and Birth of Contemporary Art

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Hidden Communities

I've previously discussed on this blog the value of considering communities for archives. I have also discussed documenting the underdocumented. And I discussed documenting the underdocumented, again. Communities are the informal and formal groups to which we belong. Some communities are obvious to us such as our family community, our geographic community, our religious community, and our ethnic community. Some communities we are less likely to acknowledge, consider, or know about. It is a challenge to those who are attempting to collect the evidence and stories of humanity to identify these hidden communities. It is worthwhile to consider them for the purposes of collecting (as in formal repositories) and for purposes of telling our own personal stories (when preserving family memories or working as citizen archivists or cultural heritage collaborators.)

I am going to use an example of a hidden community of my own. About a decade ago, I found out that I have Celiac Disease. I exhibited signs for about twenty years, but did not know that it was wheat, barley and rye that made my head cloudy and my emotions intense. My Celiac community was hidden to me. Had I known about it earlier, I would have had access to more information that could have made my life much easier. Celiacs had been sharing what they were discovering about the disorder. Doctors were working with patients to help them. No one from this community to which I belonged was helping me. They did not know that I existed. I didn't know that they existed, until one day a colleague mentioned that her daughter had Celiac and told me about how she dealt with that from day-to-day. A few years later when I set off on a pursuit to "cure" myself, bells about the conversation I had with my librarian friend years earlier rang in my head. Her sharing of her unique personal experience helped me discover that I too had Celiac. Her information dissemination raised my awareness of something previously foreign to me. Within that information I found something hidden about myself. I continually explore my personal relationship with the disorder. I write about it. I talk about it with people I meet in person. It is something that I live with every day.

However, most people do not know that I have Celiac. You can't tell by looking at me that I need to stick to a special diet. My membership in the Celiac community is hidden to most people. Yet, I have lots of information to share. I can tell people that Celiac effects one out of every one hundred people. I can tell you that its symptoms are diverse and not necessarily what you might expect. I may even help others discover that they too have Celiac. My information can help them better prepare to live a new lifestyle. I can help put them on a path toward better health. Indeed, I have helped a number of people this way.

So, what does this have to do with archives? Information sharing is the name of the game. Your hidden stories have a lot to offer to others. The stories of others can also affect you. Aiming to document hidden communities can advance our civilization, save someone's life, make someone happier, make us more understanding and smarter. This is the role of archives. This is a challenge for our society. What knowledge do we need to record that is currently not being recorded? What communities should we identify and what knowledge do they hold that should be preserved and disseminated? Consider what aspects of you and your communities are not so obvious. Make sure they are not neglected in documentation efforts.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Book Banning

I never thought that I would have to write letters against book banning in my own community, but this is the second time within six months that I have had to voice my objections. I stand firmly against book banning in my professional world and in my family life.

Dear School Board Members:

I am writing to once again express my dismay and to object to the removal of a book from the high school curriculum. After reading about the pulling of "Water for Elephants" from a high school intercession program in the local paper and after reviewing the offending passage online, I am concerned about the education this public school system is setting up for my elementary school student. "Water for Elephants," like "Nickel and Dimed," is a best-selling book for which a place in the curriculum easily can be argued. As I wrote in my first email to you in December, it is vital that our kids are given the opportunity to read as much as they possibly can. By the time boys and girls are teenagers, we are (or should be) preparing them to deal with the realities of the world and not sheltering them as we did when they were elementary school students. Great literature has always described sex, war, poverty, religion and other subjects that some may find objectionable. Such books give us a broad scope of the world to increase our understanding of the activities of mankind so that we may make well-informed decisions grounded in knowledge of diversity. It is a parent's job to discuss things they consider objectionable with their children and it is the school's job to introduce materials that make students think.

Please stop removing books from the curriculum, aborting our teachers' capacity to broaden our kids' horizons. Please stop curtailing my child's right to read.

Melissa Mannon

Saturday, February 19, 2011

More Finds at the Local Antique Shop - Research, Dating Photos, and Photographer's Stamps

 A photographer's stamp is usually the best clue to help us date a photograph. While this gentleman's style of dress and hairstyle are quite distinctive to a particular period, the lucky addition of our photographer's name helps us get a pretty precise idea of when this image was taken.

We are fortunate that the Library Services Committee of the Western Michigan Genealogy Society compiled this list of Grand Rapids area portrait photographers from the local city directories. (Oh how I love genealogists!) Mr. John Goossen practiced for nearly 40 years, but was located at 121 Monroe Street, the date stamped on our photograph, for only about five of these years.

The Internet is a wonderful resource for dating images, sending us in the right direction for our research. If I were researching this information for a book, I would call the library and ask them to double check the original resource for me. City directories are a boon for people dating photographs, researching ancestors, performing house histories, completing biographies and tracking changes in neighborhoods. My most memorable request from a patron that involved the use of city directories and reverse directories for research was to determine the original use of a building. (City directories list residents by name while reverse directories list by address.) The owner of the building came to me to prove that his edifice was once a two family structure. According to the patron, he wished to re-purpose his home to once again make it fit for two families and the City was not allowing him to do so. They claimed that it was always meant for just one family and he set out to prove them wrong. (He did!)

Researching the history of this photograph and trying to identify the subject would take me to Grand Rapids to look for the photographer's collection. Some photographer's collections are donated to repositories and serve as valuable documentation of local citizens and are remarkable for the way they reveal local history and character.

So when trying to date or understand more about photographs, remember that sometimes it is not the image itself that is key. Look at the reverse side of a photo for a photographer's stamp and seek resources beyond the image itself.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Promoting Culture - Think Outside of Your Space

This past Sunday I participated in a fun event at the Nashua Public Library here in New Hampshire. I was told that this was the library's second annual local history fair, showcasing local history centers and speakers. I was invited to set up an ArchivesInfo exhibit table. The library event generated an enthusiasm that demonstrated a public desire for more sharing of cultural heritage and more information about cultural heritage institutions.

My fellow exhibitors included: local authors who were there to sign their books about Nashua and New Hampshire History; The Nashua Family History Center, that was demonstrating family-search web site; the Nashua Historical Society; the New Hampshire Historical Society; a local columnist specializing in historical newspapers, photos and ephemera; and the Friends of the Hunt Memorial building, who were looking to restore the city's first library building. Speakers showed slides from the library's local history collection, introduced the institution's genealogy software, discussed local building renovation projects, introduced the topic of researching your house, talked about local baseball and one room schoolhouses, and showed films and of parades from Nashua's anniversaries.

Most of the people who came through the gallery where I was set up seemed to come out especially for the occasion. They were there to celebrate their town and their ties to the City of Nashua. One lady came through with her walker, wearing a nametag that stated beneath, "Member of Nashua High School class of 1929." (Definitely remarkable!) I talked to many long time residents with lots of interesting stories to share. One woman told me that she ran into a classmate whom she hadn't seen in about twenty years. There was definitely a sense of festivity here. Local history professionals and volunteers were able to show how they could help feed into attendees' memories of the past. We aimed to raise awareness about the need and value of preserving those memories.

Though cultural heritage professionals may be available to the public at our institutions on a regular basis, we often remain largely invisible to them. Are our organizations overlooked in favor of downtown storefronts with brightly colored displays? (One representative from an institution chatted with me on Sunday about how a "local history fair" at her institution would not generate the same crowd as the one in which we participated. Though her building was just a five minute walk up the street, it was not right in the heart of downtown, had difficult parking and was more easily overlooked.) Do people bustling through their day rarely take the time to reminisce? What if we offered them more of an opportunity to do so in more convenient environments.

It is important for those involved with cultural heritage to seek connections beyond our traditional institutions. As I listened to stories from enthusiastic residents, I suggested that the town seek to do targeted oral histories. For example, perhaps those seeking to restore the City's first library building could ask people about their memories of it. They were very willing to share them at the fair. Why not ask them to come back and tell us more?  Why not ask people to come to various places throughout the City for recording events. Make it a celebration. I also suggested that the City might try an "Open Doors" history event to encourage residents to explore local facilities preserving local history. Every year the City of Waltham, MA holds such an event in Historic Waltham Days that has grown tremendously in the last fifteen years since I was an archivist there. The short celebration they once created now spans a month. This is something that every town can do with a little planning. My favorite part of Waltham Days was a "passport" that people had to get stamped at each cultural heritage institution they visited. The passport encouraged many people to make a goal of visiting us all and also gave them a souvenir to remember the event (and us) when the celebration was over for the year. I don't know if Waltham still does their passport system, but if they do, it would be fun to identify people who have filled passports for all the years the event has taken place...

Promotion is one key to making cultural heritage a vibrant part of our modern society. I am reading more and more articles about people who consider libraries and museums out of touch with contemporary society. To prove them wrong, be creative about your activities. Hold very visible events, outside of your own space and in collaboration with others to make yourself relevant to the lives of your potential audience members.What we do is fun! Get out of your institution and let everyone know about it.

Friday, February 11, 2011

More Finds at the Local Antique Shop - Valentine

The newest edition to my ephemera teaching / collection box is this beautiful die cut card. It has a soft, almost paper doily-like feel when I touch it. I love the colors and organic shapes. I love the little red head with the bright cheeks. Valentine's Day should be accompanied by something a little old-fashioned. This vintage Valentine puts a smile on my face. Miss Myrtle, I hope that your Valentine's Day was lovely. Have a great Valentine's Day weekend everyone! Off to the store to get a box of candy for my little valentine!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Teaching Our Kids the Value of History

I have written about teaching kids the value of history in the following articles and posts:
Don't Know (or Care) Much About History
Making the Past Seem Real to Children Part I
Making the Past Seem Real to Children Part II
Passing Stories Through Generations
...but my colleague and co-presenter for A Life in Context workshop recently wrote to me that she thought it would be useful for me to write about how I teach my daughter the value of history for our Life in Context Facebook page. The question of how to get younger generations engaged with the past has come up a couple of times during our workshops. This has encouraged me to write this blog post that discusses some  specific things I do everyday to instill my child's appreciation for a subject that I see as vital to a well-rounded education.

MANTRA - I repeat the mantra "Everything has a history!" No matter what interests us (or our youngsters) there is a history behind it. That history is almost always available to us in some format to discover and share. Dancing, art, soccer, building blocks...there is a story behind it all. Repeat: "That has a really interesting history!"

SEEKING INFORMATION TOGETHER - We constantly seek information related to our current interests. I am a former public librarian, but I do not limit us to that venue or a book format. We go to the library. We go to bookstores - old, new, local, online. We browse the Internet. We look for videos on You tube (a big favorite.) It's all good.

ANTIQUING - I also like to frequent antique shops hunting for information and "old" things. My daughter didn't enjoy this at first, but I kept relating things we found to things she likes. For example, my father-in-law often talks about New York City, where he lived for most of his adult life. To my daughter, it sounds like some kind of magical place. We stumbled across postcards of New York in an antique shop. This piqued her interest. She seemed to like looking at pictures, so I sought out older images for her. I found a stereoscope and bought it for us. It's now a fun game to find old images for our stereoscope together. She has branched out and started finding things on her own. Old paper dolls are a favorite for her. We have even started going to yard sales together and she suggests that we wake up early to do it! Frequenting garage sales isn't always about history, but I make sure she knows when we find something 'historical."

MY CHILDHOOD - History does not mean ancient history. History is also your history. My daughter likes to hear stories about the way things were when I was a kid. (It was that time before we used computers in our everyday lives and when phones were attached to walls. Whoa!) History is also grandma and grandpa's childhoods. I like to point out how things have changed and try to relate stories about a specific area of history. For example, one favorite story is about when grandma was not allowed into her school and got sent home in the snow for wearing pants instead of a skirt. She had pants in her schoolbag, but they would not let her in the building to change. Things were not like that for me, but I have related stories. My daughter's favorite is about the time my sister and I were told that our team would be disqualified from an invitational track meet if we tried to run in a steeplechase event because it was reserved for boys. There was no equivalent for girls.... I make sure to tell her that all of this is HISTORY.

VISITING MUSEUMS - At first, museum visiting was boring for my daughter and frustrating for me. We went once in awhile. We spent a lot of time in the kids' areas where my daughter could draw pictures and play games. We spent very little time looking at exhibits, but we kept going. She learned to like the gift shop. I kept going. She liked running outside in a big field at the living history museum. I kept going. She discovered a printing press and equated it with her love for books. She learned about Mary Cassatt at school. We went to the museum to look for a Cassatt. She found a video at the MFA that told her how to build a book shelf. She loved it and spent last weekend with my husband building a little picture cube out of wood. I think we've now instilled how museums have lot to offer. She can wander and seek out what interests her. She appreciates what interests me, but knows that it does not have to be HER main interest.

JINGLES - I have found that jingles have been a great way to get my daughter interested in the past. Out of the blue, my husband and I sometimes start quoting old commercials and remembering the jingles associated with them. (I think this new habit of recalling jingles might be related to a mid-life crisis, but that's okay. Our daughter doesn't mind and we'll get through it.)We'll then run to YouTube to find that old commercial. My daughter compares the products to the ones she knows now. It gets her thinking about the past, how things change and how they stay the same.

FACTS AND FIGURES - My genius moment was when I made a timeline for my daughter for American Girl and compared it to a timeline for our family. American Girl is a fabulous way to teach girls about history. They seem to make great pains to be historically accurate. Their stories and characters are engaging. As my daughter read their books and learned about the colonial era, Victorian etc. I added girls to the line in their proper chronological spots. I then added my parents right after American Girl "Molly" and myself right after American Girl "Julie." For three years now, I have referred back to that timeline to explain history to my daughter. How the world has changed, how American life has changed, and how the role of women has changed. Facts and figures are based around fiction stories my daughter adores. I try to hammer home the difference between truth and fiction and discuss the way her books make imaginative stories more wonderful with a history backdrop. (An online friend and I have been lamenting that they need a similarly engaging series for boys.)

REINFORCEMENT - Learning at school, going to a museum, talking about my childhood, looking at old pictures, etc.,etc. It all reinforces everything else we do that surrounds the "study" of history. The more exposure a child has to ideas of history the better. The more often we point to something in the present and relate it to the past, the more a child understand and learns to love history. Here's another example: Hello Kitty just celebrated her 35th anniversary and my daughter got a special celebration doll from a birthday party recently. I turned it into a short history lesson. "Well, I was five then and Hello Kitty wasn't popular with me yet, but I liked Holly Hobby...let's go read about her and let's see what else was  happening in the world then...let's go ask grandma what toys she played with as a kid...I wonder what they played with one hundred years earlier in American Girl Kirsten's time..."

Make it fun. Be imaginative. They really will get it and appreciate the past.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Value of Twitter for Cultural Heritage

A museum registrar friend of mine recently posted on Facebook that she would like to use Twitter, but didn't really understand it. It launched me to comment on the value I see in Twitter as a social media outlet for cultural heritage professionals and how one would use it to one's advantage. The following is a list of some of the things I value about this unique form of social media. I hope that my observations and comments will encourage others in the field to consider how Twitter might boost their personal online presence or that of their cultural heritage institution.

How to use Twitter (in brief)

Twitter allows you to "follow" people and to keep your eye on conversations revolving around different subjects. The site recommends people who may interest you and you can seek people who are talking about specific topics you seek. If you are looking for a topic, search with # and then enter a term. I always have a window up that tells me what people are posting for "#archives." I periodically check in on other things that interest me. 

Find interesting things happening in your field or interesting things happening in your day to "tweet." Retweet what others say. Respond to what others say. Use hashtags in your own tweets to highlight topics. People will start to follow you if you have interesting things to say. In the beginning I posted short "tips" about managing records. It took me a few weeks to catch on and then I started having short conversations with people. Most of my posts center on diverse cultural heritage, collaborative cultural heritage and documentation projects. 

Twitter events such as "AskaCurator" and "Save Libraries" are just the tip of the iceberg for Twitter's potential for cultural heritage. Explore ways the medium can promote the value of what you do.

The Value of Tweeting

1. Networking - Twitter has allowed me to meet colleagues from all over the world who share my interests. By posting what interests me, highlighting relevant terms with hashtags (#), and seeking out others who "tweet" about topics that I find noteworthy I have been able to build a network of fascinating individuals in related fields.

2. Expanded Perspective - Twitter has expanded my understanding of my field by connecting me to people in archives related professions such as oral history, genealogy, archaeology, architecture, and more. It has also given me a more global perspective by making it as easy to "meet" people who live on the other side of the world as it is to meet people in my own state. Furthermore, it has encouraged me to make a habit of reading the news in my field every day, so I can share what I've found and explore diverse perspectives.

3. Support - Some in this network of people have become personal friends to me. Others have become online friends. We support each other by sharing ideas through Twitter. We also support each other's projects and serve as information resources for one another. If an online friend has an archives question, they can come to me. If I'm looking for a genealogist who knows about Polish history, I have easy access to someone with that information. If someone in the network is promoting a fabulous documentation project (such as Linda Norris' interesting "Pickle Project,") I'll re-tweet what she has to say.

4. Piece of Social Media Puzzle - Twitter serves as one piece of a social networking puzzle. I use Twitter to make short statements about my own projects and refer people to my web sites, Facebooks pages, and blog when appropriate. (Be careful when you tweet not to focus on yourself though. I find it off-putting when people do this. Twitter is about sharing information and not spamming people about you and your work.) I use Twitter to relate other people's projects to my own work and to promote colleagues. Through Twitter, I have invited people to write blog posts for my blog and I try to help promote them through all my social networking sites. (I have been asked to blog for others this way as well.) Collaborative promotion across platforms is good for cultural heritage in general. Boosting others on the long run helps both you and your profession. 

5. Promotion - Using Twitter has helped me better shape my personal "brand." Branding is one of the key components of professional life in our society today. Twitter allows me to speak out in a crowd. I try to do it at least a few times a day. When I post about things related to the work I do, people get a better idea of what that work is. As they read my postings, consider re-tweeting what I say, and I re-tweet what others say, my brand is becoming linked to their brand. People can get a good idea of who you are, what you do, and how your work can benefit them through Twitter. 

6. Collaboration - Twitter is transferable to real life. By finding like-minded people and people who have skill sets that complement my own, we have begun to transfer our online ideas to create collaborative projects in the form of workshops and community preservation work. Twitter provides a great platform for melding ideas and is a natural fit for collaboration.

So, give Twitter a try and stick with it for awhile. Find people to whom you can reach out. Consider how their work relates to yours. Think about how this can benefit the cultural heritage community. See Twitter as a part of your working life. Use it as an outreach and networking tool. As the world relies more and more on digital environments, your time to start tweeting is now. Help develop the use of the technology to benefit our profession so that it can best suit your needs.  

Friday, February 4, 2011

More Finds at the Local Antique Shop - Love is Blind

I've done way too much editing this morning and I feel like my brain is going to in making the slow transition to moving my body and fitting in some kickboxing this morning, I'd like to share some more from my "antique" collection with you.

Valentine's Day is not among my favorite holidays. In fact, I find the whole thing a bit silly for adults. (Feel free to bash me on that if you are a Valentine's Day lover.) However, I think that there are few things in life as wonderful as Valentine's Day cards and ephemeral items that emote romance. (And honey, if you are reading this, despite my verbalized misgivings about the holiday I do still want flowers and chocolates. Just so we are clear.)

Humans have a wonderful way of displaying affection through the documentation we create. We like our thoughts of love to be cute and airy-fairy like, but on the other-hand we do regard the whole ritual of romance to be somewhat funny. In this postcard, we know just what the lovers feel, but we can also laugh at them with their audience.

So happy February everyone! I have more Valentine's surprises on the way. But for the best Valentine collection I know see Historic New England's ephemera collection. They just have a digitized sample online, but while interning there for a short time in the 1990s I was fortunate enough to see the real collection.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Community Documentation from a Family Perspective - Part Two

The stories of these two likely brothers parallel a larger  community and social history. From my background in immigrant archives and the familiarity I have with similar images, I believe that these individuals came to work in a factory in the United States. Men like this often saved money to have their photo taken professionally to send home to girlfriends, wives and mothers left in Europe. The image demonstrated that they were doing well overseas and that they hoped to have their families join them in the new country soon.
Photographs, letters, financial ledgers, diaries, school papers, and personalized greeting cards are commonly found in households. Materials are stuffed in kitchen "junk" drawers and thrown in shoe boxes. People may value these personal items for sentimental reasons, but few see them as informational sources that reveal much about the society in which they live. It is a responsibility of archivists and cultural heritage professionals to demonstrate the value of personal archives for a larger culture outside the family. My last blog post discussed the need to do this, today I will discuss how we can do it.

We need to reach out to the communities we serve to show them that the materials we hold in our repositories relate to their lives. Sample collections from our holdings can show how individual stories relate to a larger history. My favorite sample collection is from the Waltham Public Library, where I served as archivist in the mid-1990s. As archivist, I accessioned the collection of Albert Ryan II whose family had strong roots in the community. Ryan family members led "normal" lives for their times. For example, one served in the military. He happened to serve in the Civil War and to write letters home to his mother, which survive over a century later. Another was a suffragette. She and her brother documented her experiences with women's rights that were passed on to her nephews and then on to the library...documentation retained by people like this seem remarkable to our patrons, but we must show them these materials are not unlike letters sent home by family serving in Afghanistan or people rallying for rights of different groups today.

Exhibits in our repositories and at other local institutions can help highlight these materials and make known that our collections are about everyday people. Some institutions arrange to have special exhibit cases put in the town hall, the local mall or the local airport or train station to highlight the history of their community and the stories of individuals within it. Encourage local restaurants and small businesses to use materials from your archives. Offer them the opportunity to use appropriate images that relate to the stories of their institutions and customers. Allow them to make copies for framing or enlarging into large murals to decorate their walls. Images and stories of individuals tied to communities enhances local pride and makes families feel as if they have a strong connection to the place where they live.

Archivists must also offer their expertise in organization, preservation, and general information management beyond the archives. Offer preservation workshops and archives road shows through your institution and in collaboration with other institutions in your area. Offer classes in oral history or begin community oral history projects. Encourage institutions to document their own histories and to record the role that their workers had in their growth. Encourage small scale community documentation projects through local businesses that invite citizens to discuss their place in the community and how the community has supported their family.

Regard reaching out as an opportunity to learn what historical materials are available from your community. Recognize the role you can play in helping individuals preserve a history that may be linked to your mission as a memory institution. This does not mean preserving everyone's family papers in your institution, but it might one day lead to accessioning some of them. Invite people to ask you questions and share information about the documentation they keep. Make yourself approachable and available. As people bring you information, ask if you can keep a record that describes their personal papers to maintain with your administrative files. This will help you better understand and preserve data about existing documentation related to a particular subject.

Show how your institution can play a part in helping a family preserve their heritage. If people learn that their records are valuable to a larger history they better appreciate your role and will offer you more support. One day, your efforts may help families realize that they wish to donate their records to you or to another appropriate related repository. If not, your role as an informational professional who helps to keep information safe within a home is vital. Encourage people to get materials out of shoeboxes and cupboard drawers. Encourage individuals to value family heritage. Demonstrate how communities value individual  stories and each unique person's place in history.