I am adjusting well to Bishop Hill and getting to know the community. The locals keep telling me that this has been an unseasonable mild winter. Considering that Tennessee doesn’t get much snow or ice, I’m grateful to have a mild winter to learn about dealing with winter weather. The neighbors probably had a good laugh at me snow blowing when only an inch of snow was on the parking lot. So far, I have truly enjoyed the immersion into Swedish-American culture, even the lutfisk and pickled herring. Thank you all for making sure the residence was improved and ready for my arrival.
This year the Vasa Archives opened the doors for Lucia Nights. We offered gingersnaps and coffee to the visitors. Sadly, no one was available to portray Lucia for us this year. We’ll try to get one for next year. We also opened the Archive’s parking lot to visitors wanting parking space close to the main road. A total of 73 people visited us during Lucia Nights. Many visitors commented that we had never been open during Lucia and appreciated the opportunity to come into the archive.
Over the past month, the Archives have undergone some general cleaning and straightening. Archival and office supplies have been replenished so we’ll be ready to begin processing in the near future. We have an ever growing chore list to be completed in the spring or summer. I’ve been opening random boxes to learn what we have in our collections. We’ve had a few research requests come in this past week, which gives me experience using the collection and familiarizing myself with its organization. All this will help create policies and procedures to better serve you in the coming years.
One of the things that I learned after moving here is that the exhibits have not changed for several years. For the past seven years, I’ve worked at the Pres. Andrew Johnson Museum and Library and previously worked at the B. Carroll Reece Museum. While at these museums, I learned some techniques for updating and creating exhibits. It’s important to have changing exhibits to maintain local interest in the archive and its collections.
The Archive has two galleries, a large one and a small one. I want these to change every year. The small gallery will be dedicated to Vasa and the various chapters around the world. This year the small gallery will be just a general overview of what Vasa is and what it does. The larger gallery this year will focus on 19th century Sweden since four of the five migration waves occurred during that time period.
I’m making plans to get the archives involved in the activities here in Bishop Hill. Some of the events we’ll be having are an Exhibit Opening on April 2, Valborg at the end of April, a Midsomar Respite with a tea and Kool-Aid fika, Preservation Advice days, Seed Saving during Jordbruksdagarna (Fall Agriculture Days), and many more. I post events, artifacts, pictures and other interesting items on our Facebook page, Vasa Archives, Bishop Hill.
As Bill said, if you have any questions about your lodge collections or the archives, feel free to contact me at VasaArchivist@gmail.com or at 309-927-3898.
Kathy Cuff, CA Vasa Archivist
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