A letter from a Board Member
The Florence Historical Archive began in 2010 when four women,who shared a love for history, meeting once a week to organize an historical collection. We were strangers, but our common denominator was our acquaintance with Carol Fox. Carol was a long time Florence resident who had collected, copied, hand written, and squirreled away every single scrap of history that had happened within the past 200 years in Fremont County. She and her husband John lived in a three story house where every nook, cranny, hidey hole, stair well, and dark corner stored history. John and Carol were perfectly suited for each other as they shared an equal love of history. They filled the house with their collection. As their eleven children grew up and moved out, the parents took over the empty space to store more historical information.
We four ladies who were accessioning the mountains of information, actually looked forward to going down the dark and dingy, nearly collapsing, stairwell of the house. There we would enter the one light bulb-lit (strung across the ceiling from the only downstairs plug) basement. We sat at a rickety ancient card table. We read stories from old newspapers and Xeroxed copies of material and laughed and enjoyed ourselves. Occasionally Carol would join us. Oh the scraping and squishing of chairs to allow her room. By then, she was failing in health so we were glad for the occasions when she could join us.
Her constant question was “Are you done yet?” “Oh heck no,” was our constant reply. Little dd we know that this little grouping down in the basement/dungeon had been going on for years. Many “ladies” had passed before us, each of them assigning a number to the stories that they read. We thank them! We could hardly believe it when she kicked us out. I’d been referring to our little group as the “M” Group since every single one of the ladies had names that started with “M”. The newest member was Melvina, the lady who had just moved from Virginia into Florence, right across the street from Carol. I had crossed the street to introduce myself, and as we stood outside visiting, she told me that she “loved history”. “Oh boy, you’ve moved into the perfect spot,” I said. Sure enough, Mel became one of us!
The “M Group” is alive and well today, now settled into rooms withing City Hall at 600 W. 3rd Street. Mel is the President and Treasurer, and Mille is the kicker in the pants of us all as the Archivist who is actually familiar with archival procedures. Martie is the Secretary, Grant Writer, Christmas Card Designer, brochure maker, researcher and writer for most of the documents that pass through our doors. Dorothy, author of this letter, is on several committees and the only original member with a “D” name.
We have a couple of male volunteers and wish we had more. Thank you Melvin, Darrel and Mike for helping us lift, carry and build. If that is your thing, we would love to meet you. You would be as welcome as rain on the desert in July to join us. We have also grown as new members join us. Caroll McNew joined us within the first month as an “organization” and adds wisdom and knowledge to our group and is game for any added event that we come up with. Margaret Storm is a researcher, writer, and also has a wealth of knowledge about local history. Deyon is a typing whiz an another amazingly knowledgeable addition, even familiar with the “cloud”. She is happy to take her turn as a presenter for all our programs. Sylvia has brought technical knowledge as a librarian and web designer and uses her artistic abilities to help design our Christmas cards. She is game for all our outside projects as well. Tammy, our “Find a Grave” researcher, is constantly full of ideas about what “else” we could do. Rita is our Paradox and Rockvale newspaper indexer whose eyes light up at all the suggestions that come up and incorporates them into many of her own ideas. Then there’s Judy, the Italian researcher who loves genealogy and has perfect penmanship necessary to get the information on the “Cloud”. Volunteers also help accessioning materials, filing, assisting patrons, and helping with the many interesting activities involved in running an archive.
If you have extra hours in your week and would like to volunteer to join us, you would be welcome as the rain on the desert as well. We would put you to work. Please come and see where we are located. We welcome donations as we are a non-profit organization and have many expenses associated with operating an archive such as rent, materials, organizational fees, computer and internet subscriptions etc. Our hours are Monday and Wednesday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. -1:30p.m. in Suite H at the Florence City Hall, 600 W 3rd Street.