September 30, 2020

NEH grant makes important archival work possible at The House of the Seven Gables

by joeyphoenix

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From the House of the Seven Gables

The House of the Seven Gables has received a National Endowment for Humanities CARES grant to improve the organization and long-term care of its unique archives. Among the notable archival holdings are letters, documents and first edition books by Nathaniel Hawthorne, most of Settlement program founder Caroline Emmerton’s writings and notes, former mansion owners’ papers and documents, and a large cache of materials relating to the historic house on the site. 

The receipt of the $102,434 grant is especially significant due to the stiff competition for the funds and the urgency of The Gables’ needs. The NEH received over 2,300 applications for the CARES grant. The Gables was one of only 317 organizations to receive funding and is now hard at work to meet the goals set out in the grant application. 

It is game-changing for a small institution to receive NEH funding such as this, says Kara McLaughlin, executive director of The Gables. The importance of this Historic National Landmark site and its settlement missions to the country and internationally, as well as the documented need for assistance with archival work, justified receipt of the generous funding. A previous study conducted by an archivist with the Massachusetts State Historic Record Advisory Board documented the extent of the need for this archival work.

“This grant is a wonderful thing,” says Susan Baker, Gables’ Collections Manager and the project’s director. “We have a rich archival collection that needs to be shared and cared for. This is an amazing opportunity and our work will serve the museum and the community.”

Baker detailed the work that is now taking place:

  • Inventory of archival (paper and books) materials
  • Proper storage of archival materials (including purchase of proper storage materials)
  • Creation of an archival policy
  • Inventory and organization of institutional records§  Creation of an institutional records policy
  • Digitization of key materials for greater accessibility to staff, researchers, historians, students and the community at large
  • Collaboration with the Gables’ website developer to learn how to post materials on the website and make data available to the public
  • Transfer VHS and cassette media related to the site’s history to digital format

Further, says Executive Director McLaughlin, five Gables’ staff members that would otherwise have been furloughed due to severely decreased revenue are now at work accomplishing the work laid out in the grant proposal.

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