Claremonters Help To Preserve Civil War History At National Museum

Nancy Miville, Museum curator Brett Kelley, CCWP member Keith Brady, coordinating the preservation project (Courtesy photo).

Participate In Special Behind-The-Scenes Program

CLAREMONT, NH--The National Civil War Museum (NCWM) in Harrisburg, PA, does "members-only-behind-the-scenes" programs three times a year, showing off its collection of items not out on exhibit. Recently, two Claremonters had the opportunity to participate in the program, helping to preserve precious photographs. The year before last, in November 2015, the program focused on artifacts: Guns, uniforms, flags, civilian clothing, farming implements, etc. “We attended and it was wonderful,” said Claremont resident Nancy Miville, who attended with her husband, Ed.

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With gloves on, attendees had the opportunity to touch, handle, hold these historical treasures. In April 2016, when the announced program was to be "behind the scenes with CW photography, I signed us up immediately,” said Nancy Miville. “The day of the program, as we were gathering, we noticed a number of people Ed and I know from our association with the Center for Civil War Photography (CCWP). NCWM curator, Brett Kelly, guided us into the vault housing the photography and other paper artifacts. Much of the collection is donated items; some of it was purchased. The curator started showing us various albums and framed original photos he had laid out. When he realized most of us were from CCWP, he went back into the vault stacks and started bring out a lot more ‘good stuff’.

“As we were looking at these treasures, we realized much of it had not been properly preserved and protected, to say nothing of organized. Before this kind of artifact can be properly organized, it must be protected in archival sleeves so it does not get handled directly on the photo. So, I suggested that since three of the CCWP members with us are considered, in the world of Civil War history, to be ‘authorities’ on CW photography, i.e., who took the photo, where, when, how, and why it was taken, I suggested that we volunteer to help preserve and protect the collection. I also suggested that Ed and I do not know as much of the who, when, why as they do, but we could help by sponsoring the purchase of the needed supplies. I organized the effort and presented the idea. NCWM and CCPW accepted the suggestion and offer. It is by no means completed at this point, but it is on the way to being saved for posterity, for the use and enjoyment of future historians, photography buffs and students of Civil War history.”

Nancy Miville is the founder of the Sugar River Civil War Roundtable; meetings are held on the first Monday of the month, 7:30 p.m., at the Earl M. Bourdon Center.


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