MVAR Recap 2/16/2012

Yesterday was the most recent meeting of the Miami Valley Archivists Roundtable, an informal gathering of archivists in and around Dayton, Ohio. We met at the Airstream, Inc., corporate archives in Jackson Center, Ohio, with archivist Matthew Peek as our host. Over the past few months, Matthew, with the help of archives assistant Andrea Green Burton, has been working diligently to develop the Airstream corporate archives from scratch.

Lisa outside Airstream Inc., Jackson Center, OH

Lisa outside Airstream Inc., Jackson Center, OH

After MVAR chairwoman (and U. of Dayton archivist) Rachel Bilokonsky welcomed us all to the meeting, we began as usual with the institutional reports — where we go around the room and share what’s going on at our institutions and what projects we are working on. I like to take lots of notes — it’s awesome to hear some of the “inside scoop” about the latest projects or what’s coming down the pike from my fellow archivists. Here are some of the shared snippets that seemed appropriate to share in a public forum:

On March 2, 2012, the Wright State U. Public History program will be hosting a Public History Graduate Symposium. The symposium is from 9-4 in the WSU Student Union and will feature presentations from current PH grad students, as well as a keynote by Amanda Wright Lane (a Wright brothers relative). The symposium is free and open to the public, but an RSVP to the WSU Archives (937-775-2092) is requested by Feb. 24th. I can’t seem to locate an announcement for it on the WSU web site, but if you want more information, email me and I will send you the PDF flyer. Oh, and just so you know, yours truly will be moderating one of the sessions. 🙂

In other Wright State news, two very interesting collections are nearly completed in their processing and almost ready for researchers: the Dayton Engineers’ Club Records (MS-420) and the Kettering Family Papers (MS-363). Both of those sound like they will be really great resources!

Wright State Libraries also has several programs this month celebrating the life of African American poet, native Daytonian, and the library’s namesake: Paul Laurence Dunbar. Check out the Dunbar events and the recently redesigned Dunbar web site.

Many Miami Valley archives are kicking into high gear for the forthcoming centennial of the 1913 Flood, Dayton’s worst natural disaster. Some of the folks at WSU are working on creating a traveling exhibit, if their funding comes through. And, in connection with the area’s 1913 Flood centennial steering committee, WSU grad students will be working on creating a web resource that will be a one-stop shop pathfinder to 1913 Flood resources in the Miami Valley.

Judy Deeter of the Troy Historical Society discussed a reformatting project for some oral histories with 1913 flood survivors, as well as a forthcoming project from Scott Trostel that will cover a previously little-discussed area of the flood’s history. Judy also shared that the historical society is working on a new Troy history book in honor of the city’s forthcoming bicentennial in 2014.

Gillian Hill of the Greene County Archives shared that they have moved from their old building on Main Street in Xenia to a newer one on Ledbetter Road, and that they should be all settled in soon.

Betsy Wilson, who writes house histories, shared that she will be giving a program at the Dayton Metro Library about how to research your house. If you are interested in this subject, I definitely recommend it. Betsy really knows her stuff! The presentations will be given: Tues., March 27th, 6:30 p.m., at Dayton View branch; Thurs., April 19th, 6:30 p.m., at New Lebanon branch; and Mon., April 30, 2:00 p.m., at East branch.

Galen Wilson of NARA discussed this year’s OHRAB archives grant opportunity, saying he wanted to point out that this year the grants are open to any records significant to Ohio history, not just government records. Grant proposals are due Feb. 28th (more info).

Natalie Fritz of the Clark County Historical Society discussed a probate records processing project they’ve been working on which was, incidentally, funded by one of last year’s OHRAB grants. (You can read about their project in their reports at the OHRAB web site, under the list of 2011 Awardees.) Natalie also mentioned that the Historical Society will soon be receiving 1,800 original ledgers of historical Springfield school records. That is very exciting and will be really interesting and useful for researchers!

For my own report, I shared that I am (still) working on the Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection (MS-018) at the Dayton Metro Library, which, if you’ve been reading the blog regularly, you probably knew, since I am always talking about it! The collection includes materials from several generations of the family of Miami-Erie Canal engineer Samuel Forrer. It is about 20 linear feet and is mostly correspondence between the several family members. Since there is so much “stuff” for each of about 10 people, I am currently in the process of writing detailed biographical sketches of each individual.

During the institutional reports, someone passed around a copy of the Dayton Daily News article “City set to Receive National VA Archive” (Feb. 2, 2012). Apparently, there is a very good chance that the national archive for the Veterans Administration may come to Dayton’s VA Center (formerly the National Soldiers’ Home – see pics from DML’s collection). According to a quote from Senator Sherrod Brown, from the article, “the archive itself would likely employ about 25 people.” So that could mean exciting news for recent and upcoming WSU public history grads who wish to remain in the Dayton area.

After the institutional reports, we went over the list of relevant upcoming conferences:

Next, we received a tour of the Airstream corporate archives, which was recently organized by archivist Matthew Peek. Matthew showed us the several rooms of the archives, including about 60 linear feet of shelving with boxed materials, file cabinets of subject files, map cases for engineering drawings, and a film room with several reels, negatives, and VHS tapes. As the task of creating this archive was only just undertaken a few months ago, the degree of physical and intellectual control of the materials seemed impressive to me.

After the tour, Galen Wilson gave a short presentation, a PechaKucha talk about errors throughout history, which was very entertaining. Then, our host Matthew showed us a 20-minute film “Trailers Away with Caravan America,” which was recently digitized from a 1970s original.

We enjoyed a lunch of Subway sandwiches, and more great networking and conversation. I just love these MVAR meetings, because whether you work in a large archives or are a “lone arranger” (or somewhere in between, as most of us are), it’s nice to know that you are never really alone.


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