Monday, March 9, 2009

Project started, volunteers needed!

A most exciting project is starting to gain steam. We have talked before about the “un-cataloged” archives at the Ballard Locks and Carl English Gardens. I have started a project that will benefit the Corps of Engineers, the local community, future visitors, and…me. I need an internship project to complete the requirements for my MA in History from Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania. (Sheila and I were on walkabout in 06/07 and found ourselves in Carlisle, so I went back to school. Long story) The Corps of Engineers, who run the facilities, needs volunteers to inventory and create finding aids for the collections at the Ballard Locks. I will be working with Michelle McMorran, gardener and volunteer coordinator at the Carl English Garden. Here’s what we are planning on accomplishing between now and the end of the summer:

- Inventory all photo collections, documents, and artifacts while creating finding aids by subject.

- Create a volunteer organization to fundraise for specific equipment and supplies, and recruit volunteers for the history project and gardens.

- Scanning all photos and slides in the collections (thousands!)

- Conduct several oral history interviews of former staff and volunteers

Eventually, we would like to see all of the finding aids and a database of the photos be available for convenience to the public online. For the garden side, our long-term goal is a new website showcasing photos of all of the plants in different seasons.

We’ll use this blog to keep you up to date on our progress. Read along with us and see how we do. Feel free to offer suggestions and (hopefully) encouragement. I've just gotten started scanning a huge collection of 35mm slides. Some of those pictures are in this post.

Obviously, there is a great deal of work to be done, and I can’t possibly accomplish this alone. Besides, the point is to organize a system of volunteers that will be caretakers of the Locks and Gardens and pass along this responsibility and privilege to others to continue after we’ve all moved on. As it should be with all historical sites and archives.

If you would like to help with scanning slides and photos, or working with creating a historical archive, please contact me, Jim Broumley, at This will be a unique opportunity for us to create an archive from scratch and really "do history."

If you would like to volunteer in the Carl English Garden (green thumb not required), please contact Michelle McMorran at, or (206) 789-2622 ext 216. My wife, Sheila, volunteers in the garden and greenhouse and she has a blast “getting her green on.” Michelle is super nice and a wellspring of horticulture knowledge. So go get your hands dirty. ;-)

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