Iowa Jewish Historical Society Awarded $22,128 Grant for Inventorying and Cataloguing Society Collections

The Iowa Jewish Historical Society is delighted to announce that it has received a grant of $22,128 from the REAP/Historical Resources Development Program (HRDP) administered by the State Historical Society of Iowa.  The grant requires a 50% cash and/or in-kind match.

The grant funds will be used to do a complete inventory of the estimated 7,500 – 10,000 items in the Society’s collection. Each artifact will be physically examined, catalogued, and numbered; evaluated for conservation needs (are there tears to be repaired, pages or pieces missing, scotch tape to be removed, etc.), photographed and/or digitized; placed in acid-free file folders or boxes for long-term protection; and the information about each artifact entered into a computerized collections database. In addition, the storage area will be reorganized to make it as easy as possible to find items and to make sure that all the artifacts are stored safely. The last phase of the project will be to make the information about the artifacts available to the public on the Iowa Jewish Historical Society’s website. The information will also be used to update current exhibits, design new exhibits, and develop traveling trunks and outreach materials for schools.

The grant funds will be used to hire a part-time collections assistant (12 hours/week), expand the collections manager’s position from 8 to 12 hours/week, and purchase preservation materials—acid-free file folders, boxes, etc.  This project builds on the pilot project begun in the fall of 2010 with a grant from the Beverly Blank Perry Foundation to digitize the entire Blank Family Collection and to put the information on the website.  The equipment purchased for the Blank Family project and the lessons learned from the process will be key parts of the HRDP grant.

This is a very important project for the Society as the IJHS collection is the key to understanding the history and contributions Jewish Iowans have made to the history of our state, our nation, and the world.  During the past three years, the IJHS has received numerous requests for historical information pertaining to the history of various synagogues, the Jewish community, local businesses, community leaders, and genealogy.  Completing the inventory, updating the database, and making this material available on the website will enable the Society to respond to local, national, and international research requests much faster and in more depth.