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Sharpsburg Historical Society hopes to create museum space

Documents and letters, antique clothing and centuries-old family Bibles are among the collection of artifacts

September 07, 2010|By HEATHER KEELS
  • Vernell Doyle, president of the Sharpsburg Historical Society, holds an original town lot deed from 1768, just one of many items in the SHS collection.
Joe Crocetta, Staff Photographer

SHARPSBURG -- Documents and letters, antique clothing, centuries-old family Bibles and a handwritten ledger from the 1850s are among the collection of artifacts the Sharpsburg Historical Society hopes to display to the public in its new rented headquarters on Main Street.

Since February, the historical society has been renting space on the second floor of the armory building at 101 W. Main St., President Vernell Doyle said. The space has become the new home for the photos and document archives once kept upstairs in Town Hall, as well as for donated materials previously kept in members' closets, basements and spare rooms.

"The whole project, we hope, is going to turn into a kind of a museum space for things that were gathered but were not inventoried, organized or on display for people to see," Doyle said.

To that end, the society enlisted the help of volunteer Audrey Vargason, a history student at Hood College and the daughter of a historical society member, to start an inventory of the collection.

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Vargason, 18, spent three days in August taking photos of the collection and entering information about each item into a spreadsheet, she said.

"It allows them to see what they already have and keep track of it," Vargason said of the inventory. "That way, it doesn't get lost or anything, and it can be preserved in the fashion it needs to be."

Of the 165 items she documented, Vargason said some of the highlights were the beautiful script in the old ledger, a collection of tax bills showing changes in tax rates over time, books written by people from Sharpsburg and memorabilia from the commissioning of the USS Antietam, a Navy ship named for the site of the famous Civil War battle.

She said she also enjoyed seeing old references to the names of families who still live in town and hoped more of those people would get involved with the historical society.

"I don't think they realize how much it incorporates their family's history as well," she said.

To help pay the $200 monthly rent for the space, the Sharpsburg Historical Society is selling prints of Civil War paintings and selling raffle tickets to win a night in one of the town's historic inns or guesthouses, Doyle said. The names of five raffle winners will be drawn at 3:30 p.m. Sept. 18, during the Sharpsburg Heritage Festival, she said.

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