Saturday, February 18, 2012

Preserving Michigan's Rural School Heritage - Part 3

So, now you know of the existence of a statewide rural school collection and its founder, and that there are several online indexes and finding aids to it available.  Here we will address some Frequently Asked Questions:
  1. How may I view information in the collection pertaining to a specific school?
Visit the Local History department of the Van Buren District Library during its regular business hours.  Sign in at the circulation desk and fill out a schoolhouse Request Form, and a staff/volunteer member will retrieve the file(s) for you.
     2.  I live too far away to visit the library.  May I obtain copies of file material?

Select copies may be made from the collection for a retrieval fee.  Contact us with your request and you will be provided a quote.  Extensive copy requests will be reviewed on an individual basis as per library policy.

     3.  May I request that information be sent to me by email attachment?

At this time, the Local History department does not provide digital copies from its collection.  Certain exceptions may apply.

     4.  There is an incorrect or incomplete listing in the online database of schools.  How may I submit corrected information?

One of the goals of the rural school collection is to solicit input from those who may have personal knowledge of the schools and their history.  We encourage individuals to contact us with this information so that we may review it and make appropriate updates.  To submit corrections, follow the instructions listed in #5 next.

     5.  My school, or others for which I have personal knowledge, is not listed in the online database.  How may I submit information to be added?

At the VBRGS website under Schools, select the "Add to the Collection" link and fill out the Michigan Schoolhouse Survey Form.  When finished filling out the form, simply click the "Submit" button and it will be sent to the library e-mail.

     6.  I know of a school that existed but am uncertain of its name.  Should I submit what little information I have even if incomplete?

Yes.  Dozens of entries in the collection database represent schools for which there is as yet no name.  Plus, we may be able to match your information with that of an existing school and identify it.  Simply put, partial knowledge is better than no knowledge.

     7.  Do you accept the donation of documents, photographs or school records to the collection?  If so, how should I send it?

Definitely, yes.  Anything in print that pertains to the history of a Michigan rural school will be welcomed, but not three-dimensional artifacts.  Please contact us if you are contemplating such a donation.

     8.  I don't want to donate my original documents and photographs, but would be willing to make copies available.  How can this be accomplished?

Quality copies are just as good as originals.  In the case of documents, legible photocopies are fine.  With photographs, we ask that the copies either be made from a color copier (for better copy detail) or by computer scan.  Photographs should be scanned at 300 dpi or higher, and documents may be scanned into any format including jpg, pdf or tiff.  Single scanned items may be sent via e-mail attachment.  Larger collections may be submitted on a CD or flash drive. 

Another option is to loan the material to the library for a short period and allow us to duplicate it with our own resources.

     9.  What type of information is being collected for the Bess Britton Michigan One-Room Schoolhouse Collection?

Just some examples:
  • Photographs of students, teachers, school buildings & grounds
  • Records - school census, board proceedings, financial disbursements, teacher contracts, annual statements (usually in ledger form)
  • Report cards, certificates of award, graduation programs & announcements
  • Lists, biographies, and obituaries of teachers & students
  • Building history & description
  • Descriptions of curriculum, textbooks, games & activities, picnics, pageants & plays
  • Souvenir cards
  • Drawings & schoolwork
      9.  My personal knowledge and memories from school are probably not very important or unique.  Why is it important to share or preserve them?

This is something I hear a great deal.  We always stress that everyone's school experience was unique, and it is very likely that any memories, documents or photographs that you may have in your possession are rare and precious.

It is important to remember that the Michigan rural school experience is nearly extinct.  There are less than 10 active schools remaining in the entire state.  Rural school life was also community life, and everything about school then is different than it is now...and for many of us, it's a reflection on a simpler, happier time.  Help us to insure that this singular part of Michigan's history will survive.

Nameless Picture of the Day
 unknown woman
Photographer - Northup, Bangor
original owned by Judith (Brown) Grime

Can you identify the woman in this cabinet card?  Are you familiar with the photographer?  Please contact us if you any information and we will publish it in a future blog.  Please include the photo's catalog number with your e-mail.