Stevy Acevedo of the Gilb Museum of Arcadia Heritage kindly took the time to answer questions from Sara Brumfield of FromThePage, and discussed their project and experience using the platform.
Stevy Acevedo is the curator of the Gilb Museum of Arcadia Heritage.
First, tell us about your documents.
Our documents were donated to us by Kathryn M. Taylor in memory of her father Anthony W. Wilkinson in 2020. Anthony Wilkinson collected these letters and had lived in the City of Arcadia from the 1960s until 2000 and passed away in 2005. In memory of her father, Kathryn thought that the Gilb Museum of Arcadia Heritage, a local history museum for the City of Arcadia, would be the best place for these letters to live.
The Anthony W. Wilkinson Letter Collection is composed of approximately 704 letters and postcards which were written to and by a former army medic, Edith Hartzell Grandy, between the 1860s and 1960s.
What are your goals for the projects?
These letters have been assessed by Gilb Museum staff as invaluable for their inclusion of the perspective of a woman living in California as an Army Medic. Thus, the Gilb Museum intends to digitize these 700+ letters to make them more available for researchers at the state, national, and international levels.
To accomplish this project the Gilb Museum reached out to its fundraising branch, the Friends of the Arcadia Museum, to help fund a subscription to FromThePage. The group was happy to fund the subscription and in doing so allowed for a wider community to help transcribe the letters.
In addition, the Gilb Museum sought external funding. The Gilb Museum is a small museum with a two-person staff and was interested in being able to hire a paid intern to complete this project. In 2021 the Gilb Museum was pleased to be awarded the California Revealed Cataloging California grant from the California State Library. Funds from this grant were used to hire Ms. Rebecca Andersen who completed an inventory and curation of this collection.
How are you recruiting or finding volunteers/collaborators?
During the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, the Gilb Museum was forced to close to the public. However, the Gilb Museum sought to still engage its team of 35+ volunteers, albeit virtually. Volunteers were invited to help transcribe historic letters and postcards.
The Gilb Museum also sought to gain some community partners and has actively posted on social media to encourage members of the Arcadia community to help transcribe letters on FromThePage.
The Museum also conducted several Transcribe-a-thons dedicated to teaching people about the collection and how to use FromThePage to help the Museum while in the comfort of their homes.
Can you share your experience using FromThePage?
We have had such an amazing experience using FromThePage. We were looking for some platform where we could have people help us transcribe a vast amount of letters in our collections. Prior to using FromThePage, the staff of the Museum would manually send volunteers photographs of postcards and letters via email and compile all the transcribed information into a word document. This proved to be very difficult, time-consuming, and tricky to manage.
Using FromThePage, we were able to have our volunteers now have access without having to go through all those previous steps. FromThePage gave us not only the opportunity to have our volunteers engaged, but also to have the community become active with the Museum as well. We have received positive feedback from individuals working on this project, especially during the pandemic when people were at home.
How does FromThePage & crowdsourcing fit with a small museum?
The mission of the Gilb Museum of Arcadia Heritage is to collect, preserve and recognize Arcadia's heritage, create a shared identity for a diverse community, and celebrate the City's rich history with exhibits and educational programs that will encourage community involvement. The Gilb Museum is constantly growing its archive and historic collections, and thus the need for collaborators and transcribers is always necessary. Especially with the Anthony W. Wilkinson Collection, with its 700+ letters and postcards, crowdsourcing was necessary just to help get the collection speedily transcribed.
Anything else you'd like to tell us?
We truly appreciate everyone who has helped us during this time with this project. We have been learning so much about the life of Edith, her friends, and her family during the late 1800s and early 1900s.
This project was funded to hire an intern under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. California’s LSTA program is administered by the California State Library.
This project is also funded by the Friends of the Arcadia Museum, a 501(c)3 group.
Do you have historical letters that need digitizing? Schedule a live demo with Ben and Sara.