Looking for Capt. George Flavel’s signature?
Before too long, you might be able to find it online along with troves of city records, family papers and other documents tied to Astoria’s early history.
The Astoria Library announced it landed a $50,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to digitize and further preserve a vast archive of historical documents stored and catalogued in the library’s basement.
The institute is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums and Astoria is the only library in Oregon out of 30 grantees selected to receive money under an initiative to strengthen small or rural libraries, archives and similar organizations.
Grants ranged in size from $10,000 to $50,000, and the institute awarded a total of $1.2 million.
For Astoria, the money will pay for the work of professionals like local historian John Goodenberger and archivist Rachael Woody. It will also pay for equipment like a large format scanner and computers.
The Astoria Library plays a dual role in the community, said Library Director Jimmy Pearson.
The library stores the usual suspects: books, videos, magazines and newspapers. But the basement is also home to a vast archive of historical artifacts and documents that Goodenberger and Woody, helped by an army of volunteers, have been working to catalogue and organize for several years.
“We have 170 years worth of history,” Pearson said. “It’s kind of an honor to be charged with the role of safeguarding that for the future.”
He hopes the archive will become an easily accessible resource, not just for professional researchers, but also for local schoolchildren.
“We’re trying to open the access of the material to a larger audience,” he said.
Work to digitize the library’s historic archives will begin in earnest in October and likely continue through 2021.
Pearson also hopes to conduct some community events and workshops around the project.