History center receives grant for new computers, printers



The computers and printers in the Jackson County History Center’s genealogy library were outdated.

The time came for an update.

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Margo Brewer, a volunteer for the history center, applied for a Heritage Support Grant provided by the Indiana Historical Society and made possible by Lilly Endowment Inc.

Grants are for projects that will help Indiana’s local history organizations meet high-priority needs in areas of collections stewardship, diversity, equity, access and inclusion, sustainability and planning, according to indianahistory.org.

Brewer recently learned the history center received $4,999 in grant funding to cover the expense of the computers and printers.

“We’re excited to get it,” she said. “We needed some updated electronic equipment in here.”

Two computers used by volunteer researchers and the public in the genealogy library and one in the building’s office were purchased about 10 years ago, and a computer in the Frederick Keach Heller Memorial Museum Building office is old, too.

The grant allowed for the purchase of four computers, an all-in-one printer, a color laser duplex printer and toner kits. Those are coming from N-I-Tech in Brownstown and are expected to be installed today.

Brewer said one of the printers will print pages front and back.

“We’ve got a lady that comes in, she does all of the obituaries, and at the end of the year, the obituaries go on a shelf. She prints them front to back,” Brewer said. “Well right now, she prints one, she takes it off, she opens the drawer, turns it over and she puts it in and she prints the next one. It’s just a pain.”

The genealogy library computers allow volunteers and the public to do genealogy research, including access to ancestry.com and newspapers.com. Brewer said there’s a $3 research charge, and it’s 25 cents per copy to a printer.

“Twenty-five cents a copy is a bargain, let me tell you, because toner and paper and everything gets expensive,” said Bill Day, president of the history center.

Day said they have people call in or stop by from all over the country. Brewer estimated 300 people visited the library in 2019.

Brewer said she currently is helping her cousin build a family file, and Debbie Holle, Martha Killey and other volunteers do a lot of that type of research, too.

Some people request a simple report, while others are detailed and require more work.

“I’ve seen Debbie build a family file on people, and she worked on a couple that we got a $100 donation out of them,” Brewer said. “They don’t have the time or the skills to do the research. That’s what we’re here for. We’re all volunteers.”

Brewer said the computer in the Heller Museum also will have internet access. Previously, volunteer Dorothy Richards didn’t have that capability there.

Richards often has people come in the museum seeking historical information.

“If you need any information on a historical site or of somebody here in Jackson County, Dorothy is the gal to call because she’s got it all down there,” Brewer said. “She’s got filing cabinets down there with pictures and stuff like that.”

The genealogy library and Heller Museum are the campus’ only buildings open right now due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays by appointment only by calling 812-358-2118. While in the buildings, people must wear a face mask and practice social distancing.

The pandemic has resulted in the history center not being able to do any fundraisers this year, so the nonprofit organization is relying on members’ dues and donations.

“With us being closed, it has really hurt us because that’s how we’re sustained. We’re sustained through donations,” Brewer said. “People have been paying their dues, and we’ve got to give them that.”

During an average year, she said the center has between 3,000 and 5,000 visitors, including fourth-graders in the spring and the public during Heritage Days on the second weekend of September and the Festival of Trees at Christmastime.

The fourth-graders didn’t get to visit this year because schools were closed due to the pandemic and Heritage Days is canceled, but as of now, the Festival of Trees is set to go.

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The Jackson County History Center’s genealogy library and Frederick Keach Heller Memorial Museum Building are available by appointment only from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays by calling 812-358-2118.

Due to regulations concerning safety issues with the COVID-19 pandemic, people must wear a face mask and practice social distancing while in the buildings.

The rest of the history center buildings at 105 N. Sugar St., Brownstown, remain closed.


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