The Gunn Memorial Library & Museum of Washington, Connecticut is requesting $98,455 to develop a website that will serve as the museum’s digital historical archive. Titled the Gunn Memorial Digital Preservation Project, our goal is to showcase the museum’s extensive collection by digitizing many items, including letters, photographs, journals, as well as develop new materials to expand upon the archive and promote a sense of community among the town’s residents. The simplest definition of history is “change over time”, but what do these changes tell us about the community and our role within society? It is our belief that history is a necessary component of active civic engagement, and can be utilized to promote a sense of belonging within a town such as Washington. Members of the community have already shown great interest in local involvement. For nearly twenty years, the Gunn Memorial Library has been successful in organizing volunteer projects for the community to get involved with. For example, the museum was awarded the Bruce Fraser Award for promoting local history by the Association for the Study of Connecticut History (ASCH) in 2014 for its World War I exhibit titled “Over There: Washington and the Great War”. For their work on this project, the Gunn Memorial Library & Museum was also awarded the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development’s “Good to Great Grant”.
Washington has been blessed with great fortune recently, however the town is facing a potential crisis. The population has continued decline, whilst growing in age. Student participation in local events is dwindling due to budget limitations. And Washington itself just received its first cellphone tower, symbolizing the town’s inability to adapt to the digital era. We intend on bridging this gap through our project, but we’re faced with several key questions. What longevity does our work have in a geographically isolated region? How can we make our history survive in a digital age? Will this inspire a new found sense of admiration for one’s home? The Gunn Memorial Library hopes that by creating this digital space, we can facilitate a renewed love for history, a love to share our history with one another, and members of distant communities.
Thank you all for a wonderful, insightful semester. Enjoy your long-deserved break!