Illinois Reporter

Stories from intrepid reporters attending the Illinois Press Foundation Journalism Workshop at Eastern Illinois University

Historical society adapts to digital age

By Olivia Lamberti
Not everyone can say they’re related to a passenger on the Mayflower, but Sue Jones could- at least until she researched her genealogy more thoroughly.
Using records at the Crawford County Historical Society Museum, Jones was able to separate ancestral fact from fiction.
Now, thanks to thousands of scanned records on the society’s webpage, other residents of Crawford County can, too.
“It’s easier for people to do research on our website,” Jones, Historical Society secretary, said. “We get over a thousand hits a month.”
Making these records accessible is no simple task. Posting obituaries, newspaper clippings, and other documents on the webpage requires countless hours of scanning.
Without this work, however, many older sources would not be preserved.
“Everything we have here is crumbling or faded,” Jones said. “We really have to get this stuff digitized.”
Webpage uploads are not the only way the museum maintains relevance.
Nearby McDonald’s and Pizza Hut locations display historical society photos, while local children’s groups often visit the museum.
Jones finds that the historical society remains an important community landmark among younger generations.
School groups especially remain entertained by tales of times past.
“It’s always nice to have children in the museum,” Jones said. “They’re just amazed by the things we have.”

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