The Butler County History Center and Kansas Oil Museum has a library and collections area more extensive than most people realize. They are hoping to make that more known through an “accessible archives” project.
To give people the opportunity to come in and take a look, an open house was held Thursday evening.
The tour began with a chance to explore the research library, which includes a large genealogy area.
They have many yearbooks, as well as phone books back to 1915, city directories back to 1902 and family files containing research people have done on their families and notable families in town. There also are all of the cemetery records and plat maps from 1885 and 1905.
Other information includes old enumerations of censuses taken in Butler County of each township up to 1970. These are helpful since they are only online up to 1940 because they are only released 72 years after a census is taken.
Other topics in the library include farming, ranching and oil.
“We are working to organize it more and make it more accessible,” said Renea Albert, museum educator. “We repainted the library and got new file cabinets.”
The other area getting a makeover is the collections area.
The history center received a heritage grant from the Kansas Humanities Council which they used to hire a professional archivist to go through the paperwork, organize, catalogue and index all of the items.
Sara Shreve is who they brought in to do that.
“Just the amount of photographs here is really impressive,” Shreve said.
Some of the photos that really stood out to her were in the Gfeller collection, which included several celebrity photos.
There also was a William Allen White letter from Theodore Roosevelt, as well as a brochure from Whitewater Falls Farm.
Shreve enjoyed being able to look at the old catalogue and pictures, as well as actually drive by the farm that is still standing. She said it lets people see the importance of industries.
“There’s not a day that goes by you don’t find something that surprises you,” she said.
Other unique items include the Clifford Stone Collection from his military experience and time as a POW as well as his experiences when he came home.
“There’s nothing more fun than the original old objects,” Shreve said.
That experience is what the museum staff is wanting to share with the public.
“We’re trying to make these archives accessible,” said Mindy Tallent, museum director. “All of the archives are open to the public.”
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