Everything Has a History—Even Museums

Much of our effort here at Enfield Shaker Museum goes into investigating and recording and telling the history of the Shakers who lived on the site the Museum now protects.

Yet we are history makers, too. Ever since 1986 (and even before), individuals have joined in common cause to establish and build and maintain this institution that has served thousands of visitors, guests, students, and researchers.

So it’s with great admiration and gratitude that I announce a new step in preserving the Museum’s  history: the digitization of our members’ newsletter, The Friends’ Quarterly, now available on our website (https://shakermuseum.org/learn/shaker-studies/enfield-shaker-newsletter/). This project, funded generously by the National Endowment for the Humanities, helps us retain and publicize the individuals and their work that constitute the Museum’s institutional history. Each issue is fully searchable, but we will also soon be providing a finding aid to help researchers navigate this rich archive of Shaker research, historic preservation, and museum practice.

We are still in search of some issues, especially the elusive first issue, Volume I, Number 1, 1987! I will knit a pair of cozy socks for the person who supplies that prize document! (When you will receive the socks is, um, negotiable.)

Special thanks to those who contributed issues and volunteered time and knowledge: Christian Goodwillie (Hamilton College Library, Special Collections), Linda P. Devlin, Mary Ann Haagen, Carolyn Smith and Dick Dabrowski, Dolores Struckhoff, and Kathy Ford. Museum Curator Michael O’Connor and Development Coordinator Kathryn Jerome were indispensable to this project. Kathryn is currently completing the finding aid.

Historians know that when we share a common past we have a strong foundation for a sustainable future. Museums, like every other cultural institution right now, have been rocked by the pandemic. The commitment borne of a shared experience by board members, volunteers, friends, and staff members has sustained this national historic site and its place as a local and regional community and cultural anchor. As the Museum’s executive director, I see daily how this dedication drives our purpose. And I am grateful and optimistic about our shared future on site and online.

Shirley Wajda, Ph.D.
Executive Director