This past week, I had my first opportunity to utilize the developing collection of the Burkittsville Preservation Association as a tool for outreach. The association, in addition to supporting my collection development project, is actively working on preservation and restoration tasks at the farm. In collaboration with Preservation Maryland, the association is raising funds for repairs to the slate and metal roofs on the house. In support of this cause, the local newspaper covered the project, offering a profile on the organization to the public.
As a followup to this article, the newspaper interviewed me to offer the public a glimpse at the unique collection of documents and objects that have been recovered from the farm. I was interviewed by reporter Judy Zeck who began the meeting by asking me about my background and education. The bulk of our interview was spent discussing the types of records that have been incorporated into the collection, the process of conserving items and describing them, and the planned future uses of the collection. I also had the opportunity to speak about the value of the collection and how it will support the activities of the association.
I was excited to see the article when it was printed last Thursday and even more happy that they featured one of my favorite documents from the collection, Mary Hamilton Shafer Motherway's 1926 Registered Nurse certificate. The feedback I have received so far has been very positive and many people are surprised that so much material survived the neglect and vandalism to which the property has been subjected to over the past decade.
The collection has also provided an excellent tool for engaging association followers and supporters. Photographs of some of the most unique discoveries, including campaign buttons from William Jennings Bryan (1900) and Woodrow Wilson (1912 or 1916), have provided conversation starters on the association's Facebook page. As the public becomes more aware of the association, the prospects for future fundraising and volunteer contributions improves.
Seeing the collection become a valuable asset for the Burkittsville Preservation Association in multiple ways is very satisfying. I'm looking forward to exploring other uses of these important records in the coming weeks and months.