BY JENNIFER BAILEY JENNIFER . BAILEY @ DANCOMNEWS . COM
W hen it comes to what types of information the Vermilion County Museum has and what items it can take to add to its collection , such as family history binders , paper artifacts and other items , the library ’ s collection is divided into different areas .
“ Basically , what we look for , it ’ s kind of divided into different categories because basically it ’ s organizational , business and then personal ,” said museum director Sue Richter about paper artifacts . “ So , in our case to find roots , it follows all three .”
For example , under organizational , someone may want to find out when their dad was a Shriner or Mason and they want to find a photo of him or a building such as the Masonic Temple .
“ Business ones , it ’ s almost the same thing ,” Richter said , about also tracing the business ’ history in the community .
That one lends itself to paper artifacts and hard artifacts . Sometimes there are souvenir pieces donated . In the museum ’ s General Motors collection , they have a series of GM ’ s molds the factory gave the museum , so the museum knows what the plant was producing .
Going back to Allith-Prouty , in which the business changed to that name around 1936 , the museum has a type of hand hoist that was used on farms .
For personal items , Richter said , normally for people tracing a line , it leans more toward the paper artifacts .
Some are everyday artifacts within a family and then there are specifics , such as deeds and individual scrapbooks that tell the history of a family .
“ Letters are kind of unique in that they run two gamuts . One , especially , any war-related is always extremely interesting ,” Richter said . “ And then the other ones are the everyday ones which sometimes seem kind of mundane but at the same time they give you an encapsulated picture to what ’ s going on in a community . So , we like to get those also .”
She said some of the other things the museum receives are items from schools , such as alumni information , old newspapers and yearbooks .
“ What our realm is , what we do here is more general and not as specific except for an artifact that ’ s donated because it belonged to a specific person ,” she said .
Accepted donated items can be almost anything .
“ We always tell people if unsure , give it to us , we have garbage pickup once a week also ,” Richter said .
If someone doesn ’ t want to part with something , and the person doesn ’ t care what the museum does with it , the museum staff can check it and make the decision on keeping it at the museum .
Also , if the museum can ’ t use something , they can send items onto other local or state organizations that could use the items .
“ We work with all the other museums . We all do the same thing . If somebody comes in with something , and there ’ s maybe six pieces that actually pertain more to something there ..,” Richter said about donating an item to another museum .
The Vermilion County Museum had a collection come in with a lot of photographs , unidentified . The museum staff could identify the ones that were local , just by local photographers . There were photographers , however , from Champaign and Bloomington and elsewhere , and no names .
“ So , we had no idea who they were ; but we could forward them onto them because of where the photographer was located ,” Richter said , saying that maybe the other museums kept them because of the photographer like the Vermilion County Museum does when it ’ s a Vermilion County photographer .
If someone is cleaning out their house , moving and downsizing , what does the person do with all the local history books and items ?
“ We can still use them ,” Richter said . If they have the books in the museum ’ s archives , the museum can sell them and garner money for the museum in a book sale .
Richter said everybody hates to destroy a book . Then those donations can still benefit the museum and other people who are looking for a copy of an out-ofprint book .
Vermilion County Museum Director Sue Richter stands in the museum ’ s archives room . Jennifer Bailey photo
SPRING 2023 | ILLIANA MAGAZINE