By April Bryan, Vicksburg Museum Curator
A Vicksburg Historical Society collections volunteer, Kathleen Greaver, knows that boxes of donated objects contain much more than “old stuff.” The contents within each can provide key details that help the society better understand and tell Vicksburg’s important stories.
While processing newly received donations, Greaver described one particular box as a vista into a Vicksburg resident’s personal experiences. “It covers someone’s lifetime.” Teeming with keepsakes as diverse as modern hunting gear, travel maps and souvenir key chains, it also included a palm-size pottery piece. A note on the back reads, “Dug up in Moscow”, a township in Michigan’s Hillsdale County. How Moscow relates to Vicksburg is one of the mysteries Greaver hopes to uncover as she works through the collection that was donated by the Vicksburg resident’s family.
Greaver graduated with her B.A. in anthropology with a focus on sociology from Linfield College in McMinnville, Ore. While studying at Linfield, she served as a student curator, engaged in all aspects of collections management and exhibition development. She is applying her experience and knowledge to help the society learn from and steward incoming donations.
Donations make up the majority of objects on display in the Union Depot Museum at 300 S. Richardson St., the caboose and boxcar and Historic Village buildings. Over 30,000 objects, documents, and photographs comprise the society’s local history collection—one that continues to grow. Recent local history donations include the uniform and decorations of United States Navy Captain Stanley Lane and Milo “Mike” Skidmore’s 1936 Vicksburg High School Basketball Championship charm.
To care for and manage its growing collection effectively, the society recently upgraded its software to PastPerfect—a professional museum collections database. In fact, it was a donation that made PastPerfect possible. Ted Vliek, former board president and current trustee, provided the funds to take the collection into a new era. The database will not only enhance the society’s ability to steward the collection and strengthen membership outreach, but also help it to assist community members conducting local history research such as house histories and genealogies.
Currently, the society needs objects and images related to the community’s pets and animals for a new exhibition due to open this summer. Do you have a photo of or keepsake related to a beloved pet or farm animal that you would like to gift, loan, or share a story about for inclusion in the exhibition? Please contact April Bryan, curator of collections, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 269-649-1733.
In addition to seeking object, document, and photograph donations with nearby history connections, the society also seeks insightful volunteers like Greaver who can appreciate the stories found within the boxes.