21 May 2009

82 years ago today -- Charles Lindbergh crossed the Atlantic. Today's news is not so good.

82 years ago. This is the anniversary of the day Minnesota's own Charles A. Lindbergh became the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. May 21, 1927 was the date he flew the "Spirit of St. Louis" from New York to Paris. It's easy to learn more about the man and his flight on a variety of websites. Type in his name or the plane's name into your favorite search engine and plan on a lot of interesting reading.

His childhood home and a visitors center are a historic site run by the Minnesota Historical Society (MHS). The home has original family furnishings.

That's the good news. The bad news is that the current economic situation may be forcing the Minnesota Historical Society to close the historic site of "Lindy's" childhood home in Little Falls, Minnesota.

MHS like so many other historical organizations, archives, museums, and libraries is in the midst of humongous funding and budget cutbacks. It's similar to what is happening with households, businesses, governments, and other organizations today. Staff, public hours, collecting and processing artifacts and manuscripts, cataloging, publishing, and other services are being cut dramatically. The Lindbergh site is on a preliminary list of places MHS maybe forced to close. Legislatures and governors across the U.S. are still in the throes of budget talks and not all value history. Our history both locally, statewide, and nationally is in dire straits.

Our historical memory is threatened at so many levels. Those involved in preserving history are constantly being put out of work, historical society staff trips around a state to pick up records in need of preservation and proper storage are being canceled, families are selling off beloved heirlooms in order to put food on the table, travel to research our family histories has been put on the back shelf, research and museum hours at repositories have been slashed dramatically and some have been closed entirely.

The immediate future is not looking up. Don't forget to let your legislators at the state and federal level know that history is fading away and if it is not saved, preserved properly, or kept within reach, it may not be retrievable.

1 comment:

Brenda said...

Paula, your second last paragraph is well-articulated and very sobering. Family historians and genealogists are always fighting for something, aren't we?