Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) joined Jamestown Mayor Sam Teresi, Fenton History Center Director Joni Blackman and other local officials to announce that the Fenton History Center in Jamestown, New York will receive a “Museums for America” federal grant totaling $95,656 through the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).
“This grant will help further the Fenton History Center’s efforts to preserve and present pieces of our local and national history,” said Congressman Higgins. “The collections housed here tell stories of our past that will teach valuable lessons for generations to come.”
The Fenton History Center will use its grant to support its special collections management project, which will allow the center’s staff and qualified volunteers to gain intellectual control over special collections. The Fenton History Center is planning to relocate and expand the Research Center services over the next three years, and the special collections are a major component of the Research Center. The collections include records, photographs, and other paper artifacts about the southern Chautauqua County region. The collections will be inventoried, arranged, rehoused, and cataloged, and made accessible to researchers, educators, and other interested members of the public via an online catalog. The Fenton Museum will be providing $120,577 in matching funds for this project.
The Jamestown Public School District is partnering with the Fenton History Center during the entire program by providing a donation of work and storage space for the collections as they are being processed. Jamestown Public School staff will determining the primary documents and other archival materials of interest for inclusion in the District’s active student “hands on experience” to learn the proper techniques for collecting, handling, arranging, describing, analyzing and interpreting district archival records, other primary source documents and actual newspapers.
“This is a huge step forward for the history of Jamestown and southern Chautauqua County. This grant will provide the support to get our hands around the many, many items that have been donated over the years and are significant to our local history stories,” says Fenton Director Joni Blackman.
Born in Chautauqua County, Reuben E. Fenton was New York’s 22nd governor, serving between 1865 and 1869. He was elected to the New York State Assembly 1849, worked as a United States Congressmember from 1853 to 1864 and served in the US Senate between 1869 and 1875. The Fenton History Center is located in the late Governor’s home.
Jamestown Mayor Sam Teresi stated, "Jamestown is rich with history. It is important that we preserve our historical resources for future generations. The Fenton History Center is a local community treasure that, in partnership with the city and through the generous efforts of local contributors and volunteers, does an outstanding job of cataloging the events that have led to what this great city has become.
"I wish to personally thank Congressman Higgins for taking the initiative and putting forth the effort to secure this funding, which will greatly support the continuing development of the Fenton History Center to preserve the history of the Greater Jamestown Area and make it available for generations to come."
Museums for America is the largest grant program for museums at IMLS, providing more than $16 million in grants to support the role of museums in American society: to sustain cultural heritage, to support lifelong learning, and to be centers of community engagement. This year IMLS received 371 applications for Museums of America grants, 150 of which will be funded. The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 122,000 libraries and 17,500 museums.