Claudia Shutter and Claudette Newhall, both retired master’s level librarians, volunteered in late 2016 to lead the efforts to return the Society’s historical library and genealogical resource center to the first floor of the Barn addition where it was originally intended to be. Many of you will remember the October 2018 Grand Reopening of the Gilbert L Bean Barn and Mary Bean Cunningham Historical Resource Center. Without the efforts of Claudia and Claudette and a team of volunteers supporting them, this would not have been possible. 

As we approach the one-year mark since the Grand Reopening, reorganization has steadily moved forward. In May, Thayer Academy seniors George Rowe and Christian Collins developed an evolving inventory list of all the library’s acid-free document boxes, containing documents from Braintree Town departments, clubs, societies, churches, schools, and papers of noteworthy residents among others. Over the course of more than a year, volunteer Gail Saccone has been painstakingly reviewing the contents of each of these boxes and sorting and organizing the contents to optimize their usefulness to researchers. Librarian Claudette Newhall has been similarly reviewing a recently donated AARP collection and organizing pertinent information to optimize the value of this collection to users. 

Thayer Academy interns, George and Christian, developed an evolving listing of categories of books in the library to assist the librarians with organization, to assist visitors to the library with their onsite research and to add the listing to the Society’s website to inform viewers of a portion of what the library has to offer. 

With the addition of one new map/large document file cabinet to add to the three already onsite, Mary Frazier, Ruth Powell, and our librarians have been involved in an ongoing process of reviewing the Society’s large historical maps and documents. Efforts have focused on sorting what is and is not in adequate condition to retain for our collection, while at the same time unrolling, encapsulating, sorting and filing these valuable items. The large collection of rolled maps and documents awaiting flattening have been organized and stored in climate-controlled locations on the ground level and lower level of the archives. With our flat storage capacity expanded by 33%, the map cabinets have been reorganized into new categories while the development of an inventory list continues to move forward. An assessor’s map on the wall on in the library guides researchers to old Town assessor’s records listing the history of properties in Braintree. 

Volunteers Kari Mofford and Yvonne Dhimitri are currently working on organizing, assessing and cataloging the Society’s large collection of glass negatives from Braintree photographers whose old negatives include a wide range of area subjects, including streets, buildings, people and local areas of significance. Once this cataloging and filing process is complete, those negatives that will tolerate the process will be developed into new photos to add to the Society’s large collection of old Braintree-centered photographs. 

As the deep reorganization and cataloging of the Resource Center’s genealogical information and files continues, the librarians are excited about the news that Braintree’s Town Records from 1640 through 2006 have now been digitized through a service administered by the Boston Public Library. These records now reside in the Internet Archive. 

Are you Interested in finding out something about Braintree? Visit the library to see what the Braintree-centered historical library and genealogical resource center have to offer. Better yet, volunteer and help the librarians to continue the reorganization process and to assist researchers.

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