Historical Society Receives State Grant to Convert, Transcribe Oral Histories

The Canby Historical Society has received state grant funding to preserve its irreplaceable collection of oral histories and make them more accessible to residents and visitors.

Oregon Heritage, a division of the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, on June 5 announced the recipients of their annual heritage grants, selecting the local nonprofit as one of twelve organizations to receive a museum grant. The award, in the amount of $3,705, will be used for two projects.

The first involves upgrading the storage of its oral history collection, which is currently kept on DVDs, CDs, cassette and VHS tapes. The plan is to digitize the analog recordings and move those and the digital ones from short term to long term storage.

Additionally, the grant will be used to purchase equipment so the oral histories can be accessed on site. Twenty-three of the forty-three histories have been transcribed; the grant funds will allow the CHS to contract for transcription of the remainder.

“These oral histories are an invaluable link to our community’s past and include recordings of Elsie Cutsforth, Doc Harms, Laura Thompson, Vesta Mark, Leona Sandsness, and many more,” said Carol Palmer, a Canby Historical Society member and author of the grant application.

“This will make our collection of oral histories more accessible and, hopefully, attract visitors who want to learn more about Canby’s history,” added Nora Clark, president of the Canby Historical Society.

“The pandemic severely curtailed the income from our usual fundraising events, so grant funds are incredibly important in terms of allowing us to make needed operational improvements. We are thrilled that Oregon Heritage is supporting our work.”

The second project is an upgrade to the storage of the photograph collection.

Copies are captioned and organized by topic in three-inch binders that are available for review in the front section of the Canby Depot Museum. Society officials say this is a well-loved and often-used part of the collection that is showing the wear and tear of two-decades of use.

In some cases, the binders are overfilled, making review of the contents difficult.

“Grant funds will be used to purchase replacement and additional binders, enabling easier access to this collection,” said Ken Daniels, Canby Historical Society vice president.

The Oregon Heritage Commission awarded a total of $77,582 in grants to 12 museums throughout the state as part of the Oregon Museum Grant program. The grants ranged from $3,315 to $8,000 and will help fund a variety of projects including collection preservation, interpretation, and heritage tourism.

The Oregon Heritage Commission works to secure, sustain and enhance Oregon’s heritage. The Commission sponsors heritage initiatives that educate the public about the value of heritage and celebrate the state’s diversity.

To learn more about the Oregon Museum Grant or the Oregon Heritage Commission, visit oregonheritage.org or contact Kuri Gill at Kuri.gill@oprd.oregon.gov or 503-986-0685.

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