Historical Society, Clarion University Collaborate to Preserve Local Artifacts
(Pictured above: Mary Lea Lucas, Executive Director, and Harry Nulph, Vice Chair, of the Clarion County Historical Society)
With as busy as things can get at the historical society, Executive Director Mary Lea Lucas told exploreClarion.com they have always tried to make the most of the relationship with another historical Clarion County entity – Clarion University.
Lucas emphasized that the historical society has greatly benefited from the relationship they have with Clarion University students.
“We’ve had a lot of student volunteers, interns, they’re fantastic,” said Lucas.
With the help of Dr. Jim Maccaferi, an Associate Professor of Library Science, and his students, the society was able to log the collection of documents from old railroad lines that ran through Clarion, Venango, Forest, and Erie Counties.
“Dr. Maccaferri and his students cataloged and just did a marvelous job,” Lucas said.
Beyond that, the historical society and the Clarion University Council for the Social Studies, a student-led organization, have worked together to develop an artifact to help students learn about local history.
The two entities with the help of grants have been able to create the “Traveling Trunk Show.”
“We have a trunk for each school district – the (university) students came down on Wednesdays in the evenings and we went through our artifacts finding things to put in the trunk. After that, we tried to find general things – and then for each trunk, we tried to find something that were pertinent to that region. Then, they came up with class plans and suggestions for teachers that would be utilizing the trunk,” explained Lucas.
“These trunks can be used by the society, or by student teachers, or by teachers at the schools.”
According to Lucas, helping others access local history has been the Clarion call of the historical society from the very beginning.
“The historical society was established in 1955, and originally they met in the courthouse,” Lucas added.
After growing in membership, the historical society purchased the Sutton-Ditz House located at 18 Grant Street in Clarion in 1976 for $80,000.00 and established a museum in the building.
“People come from all over the United States to do family history. You never know who is going to walk in the door.”
There have been visitors to the society from Germany, England, Austria, and Australia who are looking for answers to their family history.
“It’s really a quest to learn about their families. It’s great whenever they start to find things because they get so excited,” added Lucas.
Throughout the year, the historical society hosts a variety of fundraisers including birthday parties, luncheons, and tea parties. A haunted house is also held at the museum every year around Halloween.
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