5 Groups Preserving History And Bringing It To Life

As memories fade, elders pass, and older books, machines, and buildings are replaced by newer ones, there is a tendency for heritage to fade from view. However, there are people who make it their mission to hold on to important information and relics. In no particular order, here are some organizations dedicated to collecting, maintaining, and exhibiting objects that represent the legacy of the past.

At #1 is the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library, which digitizes and microfilms thousands of manuscripts in monastic, ecclesiastical, and national libraries throughout the world, and makes the images available to the public for examination and appreciation. The organization's website is useful for accessing its digital content, and includes an illustrated glossary and paleography lessons.

HMML's primary location is at Saint John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota, but there are collection and field sites all over the world, including in Hamburg, Jerusalem, Kathmandu, Gaza, and Harar. One of the collections at Saint John's is The Malta Study Center, which has manuscripts, art, printed works, and other archival material from the Cathedral Museum in Mdina, the Knights of Rhodes, and ecclesiastical records of the dioceses of Malta and Gozo.

Next on the list is #2, the Valdez Museum & Historical Archive. This institution stores and exhibits relics, art, and artifacts from people who have lived in or near Valdez, Alaska. The establishment offers public programming, including craft workshops and educational presentations, such as Raptora Borealis: Alaska's Birds of Prey, which displayed woodcut prints of avians from America's northern latitudes.

The Archive is a collection of materials that reflects over a century of Valdez's past. Letters, photographs, slides, negatives, sales receipts, financial records, scrapbooks, promotional materials, and newsletters represent the community's social and economic development from 1898 to the present. Everyday objects such as phone books and fire extinguishers serve as windows into what life was like a hundred years ago.

#3 in our overview is the Truman Library Institute in Kansas City, Missouri, a nonprofit that seeks to enrich public understanding of the presidency and America’s unique form of government. This mission is achieved through museum exhibits, research grants, public programming, and education initiatives that serve thousands of students and teachers annually.

The Institute was founded by Harry Truman himself in order to ensure that his presidential library could function as a classroom for civic education, where young people, especially, might better understand the principles governing American democracy, while finding inspiration to choose lives of service and purpose. There is also a museum store that sells apparel, glassware, books, and games.

At #4 is the Lloyd Library and Museum, which advocates for education in plant-based science, medicine, and conservation, and provides resources to engage visitors and researchers from the community and around the globe. The Library holds, acquires, preserves, and provides access to books and journals, as well as archival materials.

The Lloyd Library and Museum grew out of a collection of research materials established by three brothers, who manufactured botanical drugs in Cincinnati beginning in the late 19th century. Research on plants, mycology, and chemistry acquired out of professional interest grew incrementally into the not-for-profit institution that today offers fellowships, acts as a curriculum resource, and provides opportunities for students to receive mentoring.

Finally, our #5 is the State Historical Society of Missouri. It holds a large collection of westward-expansion art, including Thomas Hart Benton's paintings, Fred Geary's regionalist woodcuts, and one of the largest collections of work by George Caleb Bingham. SHSMO artworks are often loaned to other institutions to help share the story of the state and its role in opening the West. Also found in the archive are the personal papers and journals of notable frontier figures, such as military officer Thomas Adams Smith.

In addition, the collection includes maps dating back to the early 1700s, many of which deal with the settlement and development of the area, obtained by the United States via the Louisiana Purchase. There are maps of divisions of land, of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, and of trails and highways, plus aerial photography that surveys the state in detail.