…or your closet. Or your basement.
One hundred-twenty years ago, my grandmother was a teacher at the Kansas School for the Blind. Some time ago I was going through a box of family archives retrieved from our attic and I came across some remarkable photographs of the school, its classrooms, and its students. I didn’t know those pictures existed until I started going through that box that’s been in the attic for quite a while and had been in my mother’s house for decades. Someday after I have mined those archives for a family history, those photographs and a lot of other stuff about the first generation of children of Kansas pioneers and homesteaders will be delivered to the Kansas State Historical Society in Topeka.
Those pictures have come to mind because of a contest the Missouri State Archives has launched.
The Great Missouri Treasure Hunt is underway through the end of August. People are being urged to explore the myriad of historical records held by state and local institutions—libraries, local and state historical societies, the state archives, museums, and other places.
Prizes are available for the best discoveries they make in those collections. You might think, “How can I find something new in collections these places already have?” Simple. Just because organizations collect things, it doesn’t mean the curators, no matter how professional they are, understand the value of what they have. You might know something–or have something in YOUR attic that provides context to these collections.
There are links on the GMTH web page that take you to collections at various places throughout Missouri. More and more collections are entirely on line now. But you might have to go to the repository itself to look through others.
But also be thinking of this:
Those collections began somewhere with somebody. Somebody had this stuff somewhere and they placed it with organizations that can care for it, curate it, protect it, and still make it available to the donor and the donor’s descendants. Otherwise, the risk is great that irreplaceable notebooks, records, recordings, and photographs that give context to the past and to the present could disappear into a landfill.
The Great Missouri Treasure Hunt offers Missourians a chance to mine dozens of collections that already exist. It also reminds us that there are treasures in our own attics that we need to care about and care for even if it means asking someone else to make sure those treasures are saved and protected.
Take a look at the Great Treasure Hunt webpage. You might be surprised where it takes you.