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Connecting to Indiana’s History Collections

The Hoosier Heritage Alliance Connecting to Collections project is one of the most exciting projects I’ve ever been involved with. It’s all about working with Indiana’s history organizations to help preserve Hoosier history. I didn’t know before I started that an estimated 1,028 organizations in Indiana hold more than 20 million historical objects and 424,000 linear feet of primarily historical documents. That’s a lot of important stuff.

The Hoosier Heritage Alliance project was designed to address some of the needs of the organizations that care for those objects and documents. All of the activities are intriguing and have been fun to help plan and design. There are collections care training site visits, an Endangered Heritage traveling exhibit, the Collections Advisor monthly email and, coming soon, regional conferences and online training. As coordinator of the project, I get to do very cool stuff with lots of talented people.

Of all the project activities my favorites are the collections care training site visits. I spend a day at a local history organization, and we work together on their collection. We talk about concerns and problems; we also share success stories. I get to travel all over the state and meet museum staff and volunteers who are dedicated to taking care of Indiana’s history. The visits are free to history organizations and are tailored to fit the organization. I also get to leave presents – $100 worth of archival supplies.

I see wonderful objects and documents that help me connect to Indiana’s heritage – like a trough used by Francis Slocum, gorgeous pottery made by the Overbeck sisters and objects used at Lyles Station, a settlement of freed slaves in Southern Indiana. I wish that people who think of Indiana as a “flyover” state would stop and take the time to see what I’ve seen and meet the people I’ve met. The people who spend their time caring for Indiana’s history are taking on an honorable and important task. I admire their dedication and care. It’s a privilege to work with Indiana’s museum people. Plus, I’ve gotten to sample some great home cooking at lunch time.

For more information about the Hoosier Heritage Alliance Connecting to Collections project activities, go to www.indianahistory.org/hha.

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