Monday, January 19, 2009

More Collections Goodies!

As part of my duties as Collections Manager, I accept and process artifacts that come into the Historical Association's collection. About once a week or so, someone will call or come into the museum with something they would like to give us. More often than not, it is something that doesn't fit the parameters we've set up to determine what gets accepted by the museum. The reasons for this vary. Sometimes it's just too big and costly to maintain. We've turned down wagons and pianos because we really can't accommodate them, even though they might be great pieces. But we've also turned down 1960s hair driers and metal trash cans. Most frequently, though, the reason for turning something down is that it doesn't relate much to Spartanburg County.

I tend to be somewhat conservative about accepting the bric-a-brac that is offered to us, but there is one broad category of artifacts for which I'm a real sucker: documents and photographs.

What coerces me into accepting documents and photographs is that they take up so little space and require relatively little upkeep. They're also loaded with information, sometimes valuable, sometimes not. In short, I love them... especially the photos. There is nothing like seeing an image of another time. Beyond reliving a memory, it's the closest I get to time traveling.


Because of all this, I had difficulty composing myself last week when we received a quite large donation of photos and papers from the Montgomery family. If you're familiar with Spartanburg, you're probably aware of the Montgomery family, who have had a significant influence on the affairs of the city and county since the late-19th century. And because they've been in the midst of prominent business and social circles for so many years, the documentation of their lives sheds a lot of light on the history of the city and county.

For example: how many families do you know that have original 1880s-era photos of Morgan Square tucked away with family snapshots?

This one shows the Square sometime between 1884 and 1890.

The Montgomery family is also responsible for a few of the skyline changes to downtown. Here's one example you just might know:

Before, ca. 1900

After, ca. 1925

I've got a lot to go through. 2009 is shaping up to be a great year for the SCHA collection!

5 comments:

Scott said...

OK Doc, is the courthouse clock working in that 1885 photo of the square?

Carolyn said...

I've always felt that exact same way about old photographs. They are truly windows into the past...how else can we truly see how things (or people) looked?

dj harmon said...

You Lucky dawg!!! Maybe y'all could post some of them on the SCHA website.

sara said...

love it!

why does that image of the monty bldg look so skewed? it makes me feel like i'm in some futuristic film to look at it.

Louis-P. said...

The title Collections Manager sounds stuffy and deadly dull. I have urged the Bradmeister to add some style and panache by renaming himself Charge' d'Acquisition.