Voting for Huron Valley history…

January 13, 2015

I’ve mentioned this here before and your will see it again before next Monday. I’m the President of the Board of the Milford Historical Society (MHS). We run a small museum in Milford that is open 8 months of the year. The Milford Historical Museum, like many small town museums across America focuses upon local history, in our case the history of the area surrounding Milford – The Huron Valley area. The museum houses memorabilia of various sorts that have been contributed by local residents. It also houses a unique collection of microfilmed copies of the local weekly paper – The Milford Times – going back to its beginning in 1871. The Milford Times like many small town weekly papers, is a great source for historical material on the life and times of Milford and the surrounding area. The ads alone would make a great graduate degree study in the changing tastes of mid-America.

microfilm readerWhen this archive was conceived and created back in the 1970’s the most logical medium to use was microfilm, which is what it is recorded upon to this day. Microfilm has a very long life, but the technology has been supplanted by newer, faster and certainly more useful technologies. The microfilm library that we have is not indexed (other than by start and stop dates on the film reels) and cannot be searched. It is a tedious process to find a specific issue and an impossible task to find all mentions of a specific subject. We hope to change that and make the files searchable, while at the same time moving to a newer technology that will last long into the future.

Our Museum and the Milford Historical Society has joined forces with the Milford Library, the Highland Township Library, the White Lake Township Library, the Commerce Township Library and Historical Societies from Highland, White Lake (and Fisk Farm), and Commerce Township (and Byers Farm) in a project that has been named the Huron Valley History Initiative. This group has joined together to facilitate the project to convert the copies of the Milford times that exist on microfilm in the Milford Historical Museum and at the Milford Library into a searchable database that will be house on a server that will be accessible to the group members. The resulting database will be indexed and searchable. The groups have also committed to the digitization and addition of other of their records and memorabilia, such as old photos, cemetery records, tax records and such. Once done the resulting database will allow a very rich search environment for historians and genealogy researchers.

The tasks that must be completed to realize the vision of having all of this history on line are formidable, but they start with getting the current microfilm library scanned in and converted to digital format. To that end, the group has applied for a grant from the Clarke Library, which is associated with Central Michigan University. Clarke accepts annual grant requests for history-oriented projects from around the state of Michigan and then chooses one request to fund. The choice involves letting the communities that will be impacted by the grant work vote on the importance to the community of the proposed work. The Huron Valley History Initiative is one of the five finalists for this year’s Clarke Library grant. The voting is done within a one week window, from Jan 19 until Jan 25.

vote graphicBeginning Jan 19, members of the community (or anyone for that matter)  may “vote” for the project of their choice by using Twitter to post a Tweet with a unique hashtag (in our case the hashtag is #DigMilford) or they may send in a post card with some Michigan theme or content (a picture of something in Michigan) addressed to Clarke Library, Central Michigan University, Mount Clemens, MI  48859. The postcard should contain the hashtag DigMilford on it to identify it as a vote for our project. You can click here to view the poster that we’ve created and which will be in store window in Milford and in the libraries mentioned. The Huron Valley History Initiative has also created a Facebook page – ,which you can visit for more information. The Clarke Library also has a web page that will allow you to vote, just remember that our hashtag is #DigMilford.

I encourage all of my readers to Tweet or re-Tweet during the voting window using the hashtag #DigMilford. Admittedly, this is a “cause” that doesn’t pull at the heartstrings like most of the health and welfare causes that we are all bombarded with all of the time. The needs in those areas are great all around the world and I encourage you to do what you can for them and give what you can. In this case, we aren’t asking you for any money, just a few moments to Tweet or re-Tweet something with the hashtag #DigMilford to support our project. Of course, if you do happen to have a Michigan-themed postcard and want to send it in to vote for us, that would be great. Postcards count as 100 votes, so that counts as a lot of Tweeting. Send your cards to – Clarke Library, Central Michigan University, Mount Clemens, MI  48859. For my international followers, perhaps a postcard from your country to the library with something historic in your area would be counted – just make sure to put the hashtag #DigMilford on it.

I’ll post a reminder on Monday, Jan 19 when the polls open. Thanks for your support.