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Historic Objects Don’t Rehouse Themselves

February 5, 2020

Written by: Cam Amabile, Oregon Department of Forestry

Goodbye constant threat from water damage, hello room full of gleaming white boxes!

Thanks to Oregon Parks & Recreation & Oregon Heritage Commission, a 2019 Museum Grant provided the Tillamook Forest Center with much needed protection for a valuable collection of archives and objects. While piles of unfolded corrugated plastic boxes aren’t exactly glitzy or glamorous, these simple objects provide permanence for public resources on the some of the biggest fires in Oregon’s history, the first large-scale experimental forest replanting effort in the nation, and a rich history of Oregon’s relationship with the Tillamook State Forest. 

Those boxes didn’t fold themselves. Our historic objects, they didn’t mold themselves into foam.  All the documentation, it didn’t write itself. While the center’s Interpretation & Education team managed the archive project, two steadfast archive warriors made it all happen: volunteers, Kristy Lund & John Casteel.

Volunteer Kristy Lund rehouses objects

Many organizations fear putting valuable collections in the hands of their volunteers. Surely, it takes a lot of trust, knowledge, and training but it doesn’t need to be scary. Our volunteers came to us with two things that made them successful, dedication & the ability to pay attention to detail.  It didn’t hurt that Kristy had a little bit of experience too. Regardless of Kristy’s experience, both she and John possessed a moldable suite of soft skills making them ideal candidates to engage in this project. Their interest in working with archives and desire to preserve the objects we have, has now had a lasting impact on the center for the good of the public.

Goodbye constant threat from water damage, hello room full of gleaming white boxes!

Our staff took time to set them up upon arrival each day with measurable objectives along with training for any new tasks. We followed manuals readily available online focused on preparing volunteers for archival work and perfected them to meet the center’s needs. By providing these passionate and dedicated volunteers with support and trusting them, we were able to steamroll through tasks with precision, accuracy, and the ever-elusive efficiency.

Volunteers can sometimes be the best play-doh to mold into powerhouses for accomplishing specialized tasks. All it takes is willing staff to guide them, a little time for training at the outset, and supporting them when they come upon a crossroads. Without volunteers, the Tillamook Forest Center/Oregon Department of Forestry would have been unable to preserve these materials. Our volunteers are invaluable members of our team and invaluable assets to all Oregonians for preserving our collective history.

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