October 1st marked the beginning of Archives Month, a month-long celebration of archives! The Latah County Historical Society is celebrating by sharing our collections with the world via our social media outlets: Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. To see as much of the collection as possible, be sure to follow along all month long.
To begin archives month, I thought it would be helpful to write about what we hold at the Latah County Historical Society (LCHS) archives. LCHS preserves three main types of collections: documents, photographs, and objects. Let’s dive into each category a bit more in-depth.
Documents. This is the category that is traditionally considered ‘Archives.’ Although this category only gets a one-word name, it is incredibly diverse. In this category, LCHS collects the written history of Latah County. This category contains diaries, journals, business records, maps, deeds, menus, church directories, correspondence, and much more. These documents tell the story of Latah County’s residents primarily through their pens. It is incredible to dive through these records to tell the story of Latah County through this lens.
Objects. When you think about going to a museum (like the McConnell Mansion), most likely, you think of the objects on display in a particular exhibition. Objects (three-dimensional material culture) are the most memorable part of the Latah County Historical Society collection. Objects allow us to take the description in a journal and give it a bit of life. Let’s say that we have an excellent history of early logging techniques using crosscut saws. A written historical description will allow people to understand the theory of using a crosscut saw. However, it can be extremely beneficial to have an example of such a saw on display right next to this description. Our object collection is vast and encompasses the basement of our archives facility.
Photographs. This is by far the most used category in the LCHS collections. The LCHS photograph archive is used nearly daily by researchers and staff alike. The old adage goes that ‘a photograph is worth 1,000 words.’ The photograph archive allows users to understand the differences in how people lived over time quickly. Since these records get used a lot, LCHS has undertaken steps to make sure that these records can be seen and used by a much wider audience through digitization.
In 2016 the Latah County Historical Society became a partner with Google Arts & Culture. As a partner in this project, LCHS can have all of our scanned material available online through this portal for free. This is an exhilarating opportunity to share our collections. In 2019 the Latah County Historical Society applied for and received a grant from the Idaho State Historical Records Advisory Board. This grant provides matching funds for LCHS to digitize over 3,400 images in the LCHS photograph collection. These images were transported to our scanning partner in Boise and will return soon. Upon their return, they will be preserved digitally in our digital archive, posted on the Google Arts & Culture site, and shared with the community.
In conclusion, we are incredibly proud of our collections that tell the history of Latah County. We work hard to maintain these collections for future generations to learn about the rich history of Latah County, Idaho.
One final reminder to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter so that you don’t miss anything. https://www.instagram.com/latahcountyhistoricalsociety/ https://www.facebook.com/LatahCountyHistory https://twitter.com/LatahCoHistory
Also, keep an eye on our online collections at Google Arts & Culture to see our growing database of online research tools. https://artsandculture.google.com/partner/latah-county-historical-society