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Shirley's Historic Records Project Step I - Where are we at ?

Tuesday evening, January 9, 2001, a core group of people interested in preserving Shirley's Historic Records met at the Hazen Library to discuss the present status of the paper evidence of Shirley's past.

With the 250th Anniversary of the Town of Shirley coming up in 2003, it would be wonderful to add a 20th century history of Shirley to our other history books, but the evidence of that history is either scattered throughout the town or is totally missing. Papers, photos, newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, notebooks, video tapes, audio tapes, and record books need to be located, identified, organized, preserved, and made accessible.

Besides the project's prime supporters - the Hazen Library, the Town Clerk, and the Historical Society, representatives of the Historic District Commission, the First Parish Meetinghouse Preservation Society, Trinity Chapel, and the Shirley Grange, were present for the first project meeting. They filled out an initial survey which describes the condition of our historic records before the project begins. As suspected, it was discovered that some records are in public buildings, some in private homes, and some records are missing at this time. Some records have become moldy or chewed by bugs and mice. Other records are just plain dirty. Some records are in file cabinets and acid free folders and have catalogues to help locate specific items. Some records are in unlabeled boxes with only the memory of one person to help find the piece of paper that will answer the question.

Other groups who have already made the commitment to participate in the Historic Records Project include the American Legion, the United Church, the Shirley School District, the Altrurian Club, and the Shirley Water District. They will be asked to complete the initial survey forms and return them to Project Director Meredith Marcinkewicz.

We still need representatives of the Hose Company, the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts, ST. Anthony's Church, Shirley Cooperative Bank, the 4-H Clubs, and other businesses and organizations to take part in this project. We need to find out if there is still anyone around with records of the Baptist Chapel that was on Chapel Street, the Shirley Center Community Club, the Polish Club, the Oddfellows or the Rebekahs which once met in Shirley. Perhaps there were even other clubs or organizations which we didn't know about. Hopefully, people who know of these organizations or may even have the remaining files, will contact Project Director Meredith Marcinkewicz, at the Shirley Historical Society, P.O. Box 217, Shirley, MA 01464, 978-425-9328, shs1@ma.ultranet.com.

A professional historic records consultant will be hired to offer a series of workshops designed to help participants improve the condition of their records. Besides the participating organizations, individuals who have collections of family records will be welcome to attend the workshops and learn the best methods of organizing and preserving historic papers, photos, and scrapbooks.

At the conclusion of the project, an index of Shirley's Historic Records will be kept at the Hazen Library, the Town Clerk's Office, and the Historical Society. Information will also be put on the Historical Society's website, (www.ma.ultranet.com/~shs1) to help researchers identify the organization that can best answer their questions.

The Historic Records Project is being funded by a $6,000 grant from the Massachusetts Historic Records Advisory Board, with over $7,000 in local in-kind contributions. An additional $900 in cash must be raised locally. Along with its donations of copy paper, and computer use, the Shirley Historical Society has pledged $50 towards the project, . An additional $150 has been pledged by private individuals. That leaves $700 more to raise in local contributions. Donations may be given outright, or in memory of a loved one. Checks may be made out to Town Of Shirley and sent to Historic Records Project, P.O. Box 217, Shirley, MA 01464.

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