By Emily Hopkins
Consider for a moment that your piles of dusty old photographs are precious historical artifacts. To the people at the Worcester Historical Museum, that’s just what they are. Through the museum’s Digital Friday’s program, people get to enter copies of their old photos and the stories that go along with them into the museum’s collections.
For the past eight years, volunteers and librarians at the Worcester Historical Museum have painstakingly sifted through thousands of images from all over the city.
“The goal is to preserve Worcester history, and that’s everybody’s,” says Robyn Christensen, library director and archivist.
Photos are collected at events which are hosted at venues such as the senior center, public libraries, and the Hope Cemetery. A museum staff person will arrive with a laptop and scanner to make copies of people’s pictures and to record the names, locations and stories behind the images. “People wonder why we would want their photos,” says Christensen. “It was the average citizen who made Worcester what it is today. That’s important. We want your stories, because you are a part of Worcester’s story.”
And it’s not just the really ancient photos that the museum is after.
“It’s always hard to get photos from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s,” says Christensen. “People don’t see those photos as historic.”
Eventually, all of the photographs should be available to the public on a museum database. Yet the museum staff still has years of work ahead of them before the photos are all cataloged. And there are more coming in. Even after years of collecting, the museum is still encouraging people to bring in their photos.
“You never know what will happen to these photos,” says Christensen. Unwanted old photos could very well be thrown away and then that piece of history that is lost.”
People interested in sharing their pictures are being encouraged to bring them directly to the Worcester Historical Museum. The museum will make a copy of the pictures brought in, they do not keep originals.
The Digital Fridays archive is available for viewing in the Worcester Historical Museum.