“Inhabit the Verb” - Preservation Stories
From time to time the CCN column will feature stories from the field that exemplify new ways we guide preservation efforts by collaborating across institutions or disciplines. If you have a story to share, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Crossing State Lines: CCAHA’s Regional Heritage Stewardship Program
By Dyani Feige, Director of Preservation Services; Samantha Forsko, Preservation Specialist; and Jason Henn, Manager of Marketing and External Relations
Thinking of a collections care network in terms of region, as opposed to the statewide level, may not seem like an important distinction. But the Conservation Center for Art & Historic Artifacts (CCAHA), in conversation with representatives from the American Association for State & Local History (AASLH), began to notice distinct differences in access to conservators, preservation resources, and a likeminded community of practice between urban areas and rural, even within the same state. For example, while Ohio has excellent conservation and preservation resources in certain concentrations within the state (Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati), the more rural southeastern area of the state is relatively underserved. Furthermore, individuals working in cultural institutions in southeastern Ohio may have more in common with institutions in eastern Kentucky than they do with institutions in Cleveland.
CCAHA’s Regional Heritage Stewardship Program, or RHSP, was created to bring resources to underserved, particularly rural areas of the country with limited access to conservators and preservation expertise. The program started with support from AASLH, who helped us identify those regions that RHSP would best serve. Throughout 2017 and 2018, with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, CCAHA delivered workshops, webinars, and preservation needs assessments to institutions across portions of Appalachia and the Deep South. In 2019, the program’s services are expanding to new areas of those regions, as well as the Intermountain West, which includes Utah and portions of several other Western states. So far, more than 200 organizations in these regions have taken part in RHSP programs and services.
Our primary model for RHSP was CCAHA’s Philadelphia Stewardship Program, an initiative that has provided collections care training and subsidized assessments to institutions in the Philadelphia area for over fifteen years. This area includes a portion of southern New Jersey that is in many ways more closely linked to Philadelphia than it is Trenton, Newark, or New York City.
Our firsthand experience and participant feedback, especially in Appalachia, has highlighted the need to ignore state lines and connect people and organizations in ways that make the most sense geographically and culturally.
As Anthony Gibbs, Local History Services Manager at Ohio History Connection, stated during the planning phase for RHSP, “CCAHA’s plan is one that, based on our experience, will close the distances, real or perceived, between collecting institutions.” For more information on CCAHA’s Regional Heritage Stewardship Program, visit: ccaha.org/initiatives.
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