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This month I've traveled to two institutions to discuss potential partnership with MDCH. On April 1, I met with staff at Harford County Public Library (HCPL) in Bel Air to discuss their Living Treasures Oral History Project. The project aims to preserve Harford County's heritage by recognizing and recording the contributions, memories, and experiences of its long-time residents. Participants in the project are selected through a nomination process. Any Harford County resident of at least 70 years of age, and who has lived in the county for the last 40 years, can be nominated as a Living Treasure. Those selected receive a citation from the Harford County Council and are interviewed by HCPL staff members. Recordings, transcripts, and other memorabilia then become part of the library's oral history collection. Currently, HCPL has over 250 interviews in the Living Treasures collection, in audio and/or video format. We are glad that HCPL has decided to partner with us in making this collection available online, and are excited to have another opportunity to work with oral histories.
On April 23, I visited the Montgomery County Historical Society in Rockville, Maryland. The society participated in the MDCH program back in 2004, when we digitized the Fair Hill Boarding School collection and posted it on the MDCH website, so I was looking forward to the visit to see if we could renew our partnership. While I was there, the society's archivist gave me a tour of the the Jane C. Sween Library, a non-circulating library and archives located in the white carriage house at the Beall-Dawson Historical Park. We discussed potential collaborative digitization projects and viewed items from the society's collections, including: a set of Montgomery County real estate atlases, the earliest dating back to 1916/1917; a handwritten ledger of a local benevolent society dating from the early 1900's; and selections from society's manuscript, ephemera, and Montgomery Mutual Insurance Company collections. I was also quite fascinated by the scrapbooks of Frank M. Heath, who in 1925 set out with his horse Gypsy Queen to ride through all 48 states in the continental U.S. During the next two years, Heath and Gypsy Queen traveled over 11,000 miles, finally arriving in Washington, D.C. in 1927. Although it was decided that the scrapbook was not appropriate for inclusion in MDCH's digital collections for a variety of reasons, this rather odd and interesting piece of memorabilia was fun to see, and is a great example of some of the more unusual items I've come across in working with archives, museums, libraries, and other cultural heritage institutions. I appreciated the Montogomery County Historical Society's archivist taking the time to show me around their collections, and look forward to working with him on future projects. Stay tuned for further developments.