The preservation of history in the Valley made some progress this month when Two Rivers students and Snoqualmie Valley Historical Society members met to learn how to catalog donations received into the museum’s database system.
Historical society members and students met on Friday, Dec. 1, at Two Rivers where Cristy Lake, assistant director at the Snoqualmie Valley Historical Museum, led a group of students and museum members through the database program Past Perfect. Lake had previously worked with students to get them familiar with Past Perfect, which was helpful background as the students explained to historical society members how to use the program.
The Two Rivers students and historical society members not only worked together to learn the program, but also shared some stories about each other as the students asked questions about local history. Two Rivers teacher Charlie Kroiss said he was glad to see the students interacting with their guests and taking the opportunity to learn.
“That’s what I was hoping for, getting students to interact with people that know the history of a different generation to give that perspective,” he said. “Because that’s what history and social studies is about, appreciating the different generations, and there is no better way to understand a previous generation than to talk with them.”
Kroiss’s history project class has the students working on creating a website with all of the historic information they can collect on the Valley. The Past Perfect activity was a way to get them involved with people in the community who have a great deal of knowledge about the history of the area.
“It’s been a really successful project thus far, it’s not just the history stuff they are learning, but an appreciation for the community,” he said.
The students were learning to use Past Perfect, the industry-standard database program used in small museums, Lake said. Once a museum has its inventory in the system, it is easy to track and find individual artifacts or groups of items, as well as catalog new donations made to the museum.
“It’s a great tool, once you have your data on it,” she said. “But a lot of our members of our organization aren’t as familiar with the program as they should be, so we are working together with the students who are a lot more computer literate than a lot of our members, to learn better.”
Lake also works at the Northwest Railway Museum in Snoqualmie as a collections registrar and works on cataloging donations made to them using Past Perfect. She said that even though there are thousands of entries in each of the databases, there are still thousands to be entered into the system.
“At Snoqualmie Valley Museum I have just over 20,000 items in Past Perfect, I probably have another 10,000 in the archived materials to enter in and probably 60,000 negatives from the Valley Record collection still to enter in if not 100,000,” she said. “At the railway museum I think I have about 3,000 books currently in the system and 6,000 books to go.”
By teaching members and potential volunteers how to catalog the museum inventory, the process of making sure everything is in the system can be completed much more quickly than if Lake were the only archivist.
The two groups came together thanks to the local organization Savor Snoqualmie’s cultural heritage and art committee, which saw the need from historical societies around the Valley to have more of their membership familiar with cataloging items of historic relevance. At the same time, Kroiss was planning his history project class would be learning about the history of the Snoqualmie Valley.
Savor Snoqualmie staff members decided that bringing together the students and society members would be a great way to help teach the program, as well as give the students insight as to how museums work and a chance to look at some of the artifacts the museums have.
Jennifer McKeown, program manager for Savor Snoqualmie, said that seeing the two generations interact and work together in learning about history preservation was exactly what the cultural heritage and art group had in mind.
“It’s really wonderful to see the students empowered to put them in a leadership position to be able to actually teach somebody older than them something,” she said. “We often don’t see youth empowered in that way and they are hungry for it and it’s a great way to see older people and younger people talking together and sharing stories.”
Kroiss said that after the successful database training session, the class is looking to do a few more field trips around the Valley. With so much research done into the Valley history, the students will be able to ask deeper and more specific questions for their projects.
“We are hoping to do a few more field trips to the hydroelectric dam at the Falls, the Cedar River Watershed,” he said. “Having this background information is going to allow them to ask much better, more in-depth questions, which is really building on their knowledge.”