Updated: Apr 1, 2020
This year Latah County Historical Society has been a recipient of a Northwest History Network Microfunding Grant. This article is written to inform our membership and the Northwest History Network of the progress we have made with the new archival boxes provided by this grant.
In January of 2014 I joined the Latah County Historical Society (Latah County, Idaho with our office and historic house located in Moscow) in capacity as museum curator. As many of you are aware, work at local historical societies requires working in a variety of roles, some of my daily responsibilities include: curating historical artifacts, registering artifacts, documents and photographs into our collection, organizing volunteers to assist with the operations of the historical society and maintaining and storing archival documents.
The Latah County Historical Society (LCHS) is fortunate to have fully functional rolling shelving for our archives. This shelving is approximately 70% full of records, each housed in acid-free, archival boxes. While I was beginning to work with the archival collection I found that many of the Large Collections were a series of smaller boxes, which were labeled numerically since there were no large archival boxes (e.g. LC [Large Collection] Greeting Cards Box 1, LC Greeting Cards Box 2 . . . ). While this was a bit cumbersome it did not warrant buying new boxes since there were other more pressing needs. As time rolled on more large collections were donated to LCHS. As these projects piled up I knew that I had a problem brewing on my hands.
In March I found the Northwest History Network’s Microfunding Grant opportunity. I applied in an attempt to fix the archival box shortage. In June I found out that LCHS was funded through the Northwest History Network. In July I researched archival box options and ended up ordering 30 boxes from Hollinger Metal Edge model number RSB-18 with dimensions 12W x 15L x 10H. I chose these boxes because of their value for money. I did a lot of research and calling in order to maximize the Northwest History Network Microfunding Grant.
Since the boxes arrived in August they have been put to work. Some of the new projects include getting backlogged document collections in acid-free storage complete with new inventories. At the Latah County Historical Society one of our most prominently researched figures is Frank B. Robinson. While the Frank B. Robinson Collection is well used there are boxes of unprocessed records in our backlog. Thanks to this grant LCHS has the archival boxes necessary to begin processing these boxes and make them available to researchers.
Another notable project has been the consolidation of smaller collections. These boxes have allowed me to combine large collections housed in multiple small boxes into one large box. This consolidation is not only easier to handle but also allows for quicker and more efficient access by the researchers.
The archival boxes have also been used to house new collections. Recently LCHS received a new large collection of Frank A. David (a prominent citizen who worked and owned department stores in downtown Moscow, ID) papers. These papers span his and his family’s history in Latah County. While this collection has not been processed yet, I am able to store them in acid free storage in the meantime.
These boxes have been used not only in the documents collection but also in the textile collection. LCHS has used these boxes to re-house some of the hats in the collection. This has moved these hats out of acidic boxes and into acid free long-term storage.
The Northwest History Network Microfunding Grant has been a great way for the Latah County Historical Society to improve its storage while increasing access to our records. This grant allowed LCHS to maintain archival storage standards while processing existing and new collections. I would like to thank the Northwest History Network for funding this Microfunding Grant and I hope success at the LCHS will encourage other historical societies to apply to this worthwhile opportunity in the future.
Zachary Wnek Museum Curator Latah County Historical Society