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Family Treasures & Museum Donations

This handsome, slightly sardonic guy is my grandfather, Roy Seifert. My grandmother is moving out of her home of 60 years for a much smaller apartment. A few weeks ago, we had fun rummaging through old photos and making piles to distribute amongst the family (whether they liked it or not). I also discovered about 45 black-and-white photographs from grandpa’s Army service. Even better, they were labeled with places, dates, and names on the back. The photos dated to 1950-1952 at Camp Stewart and Camp Gordon, Georgia, and Fort Dix, New Jersey. I immediately saw the archival and museum value, so I called the Third Infantry Division Museum at Fort Stewart. The director said he would love the donation.

Camp Stewart, 1950

Today we drove out to the museum, and I realized just how massive Fort Stewart is. It took 30 minutes of driving even after we got on base property, but we eventually reached the gate. One confused MP later, (ugh, I guess show me your drivers license?), we gained access to the base. Apparently, I’m the only civilian who has gone to the museum.

We had a brief chat with director and curator, John Potter, who turned out to be a former student of mine, and gave him the photographs. If you care to baffle an MP, you can visit the Third ID Museum in the near future, and see our pictures on some of the screens. We also took a brief (because the “we” included my four-year-old) spin around the impressive museum.

1941 Ford /Darley Crash Rescue Fire Truck. After serving at Hunter AAF, the volunteer Isle of Hope Fire Dept. used it from 1959 to 1996.

Remember your museums, historical societies, and libraries when you find old family documents, photographs, art, and books. I also took a copy of the History of the Telford Volunteer Fire Company: Serving for 100 years, 1903-2003 to the public library. They had the 50 year history book, but not the 100 year version. These difficult to find, very limited printing books and pamphlets on local history are great for public libraries. If you have these types of resources and want to share, look for a library with local history room. For coastal Georgia, that is the Bull Street Library‘s Kaye Kole Genealogy & Local History Room.

Some tips for donating:

  • Don’t be offended if the library or archive doesn’t want your items! I had photos with great documentation, with names, dates, and places written on the photographs’ backs. Not everything has enough informational value for a museum or archive.
  • Do a little research to ensure the donation is a good fit for the museum. It’s really a coincidence that I found Camp Stewart photos in Pennsylvania but live pretty close to the (now upgraded) Fort Stewart.
  • Libraries and museums have limited space to store objects and limited staff time to process these items. At a minimum, donations need to be cataloged and labeled with the call number. Please realize that every “free” donation comes with a cost for the museum including staff time and the perpetual care for the items. Consider a small donation to the museum if you care about the cause.
  • Expect to spend some time doing paperwork. Typically, museums will need a deed of gift form and will want some background information to properly document the collection. The process of accepting a new donation or acquisition is called accessioning.
  • Never just drop something off, especially without speaking to the curator or collections manager. It’s generally best to call or email first to gauge interest and make an appointment to deliver the items if the museum is accepting the donation.
My grandfather at Camp Stewart 1950.

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