Museum Corner March 2019
Museum Collecting Historic Site Data
By Becky Buher, March 6, 2019
At the Lawrence County Museum of History and Edward L. Hutton Research Library, we are dedicated to creating exhibits that engage, inspire, educate and entertain as well as preserving objects and maintaining collections for current and future generations to enjoy.
But what about historic places, specific places that we can no longer locate? Visitors often come to the museum looking for historical sites. Some might be looking for a family farm where their ancestors once lived or the cemetery where they are buried. Some might be looking for the Lawrence County Civil War encampment site or for Underground Railroad routes and Lawrence County safe house locations. But if the camp and safe houses existed, their locations are no longer known.
As people die, personal memories are gone. Places are lost — places where people once played as children, went to school, lived, loved. Unless they were recorded somewhere, these memories are but a vapor. I think in particular of valuable museum volunteers such as Betty Ooley who did share her time and recorded much of her extensive historical knowledge. But others have not recorded the places from their memories, and many Lawrence County historical places have been lost.
Board member, Mike Hicks, has created a way for the museum to embark on a new program to record and preserve historical Lawrence County sites so they won’t become lost in the future.
For clarity, this is not a real estate preservation project. The museum will create an accessible archive containing images, stories and locations (coordinates) of specific places.
How will we collect the information? We need your help, and it should be fun.
Do you know of a place that you would like to have remembered for posterity? Some examples might be old home sites, abandoned roads, prehistoric villages, campsites, school locations, unmarked cemeteries, or any site that might be of interest (even if it is of interest just to your family). It could also be a “then and now” by including a digital image of what was once there as well as the way the site looks now.
To participate, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line reading “Lawrence County Historical Location Archive.” Include the following information:
• Your name.
• A digital photo of the place to be remembered, and be sure to include the date the photo was taken. If you have an old photo you want to add, include its date or a guesstimate of its date.
• Include the story of your site.
• Include the coordinates of the place shown in the photo. Many of these historical sites won’t have a postal address so it is essential to include the coordinates. If you have a postal address, please include it, but the coordinates are necessary since they will never change.
• Designate usability specifications. Don’t know the coordinates? If you have a smartphone, you can download a free Commander Compass app. Get it here: http://happymagenta.com/compass/. It’s easy to get the coordinates with it.
If you already know the location and have access to a computer, go to: https://maps.google.com/ and click your cursor on the correct location on the map. Both the postal address and coordinates will appear in a pop-up box.
If you don’t have either of these tools, I bet you have a friend or family member who can help you.
How do you get a picture? First of all, don’t trespass on private property. Always be sure to get the landowner’s permission for you to be on their property so you can create a photo.
How will the Historical Location Records Archive be used? Don’t worry, the archive will be set up so that your locations are for museum use, private use and/or public use. The person providing the information will determine the usability specifications.
After your email is received, museum staff will load material to the Lawrence County Historical Location Records Archive. Staff will then notify you (the donor) when the information has been loaded and how it can be accessed.