About The Author

David Grabitske

David Grabitske is the manager of outreach services at the Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Last week at the Minnesota Digital Library annual meeting at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Keith Ewing quoted author Thomas Savage:

“It’s knowing who your parents are that counts, and your parent’s parents and your parent’s parent’s parents, for the more heritage we can produce the more secure we feel, the more and older the snapshots, and portraits and silhouettes, objects, candle molds, wooden churns, brass tea kettles, locks of hair, faded letters coming apart at the fold, valentines and pressed flowers.  A name without a knowledge of those who gave it to us, the tilt of nose, the ring of voices, is hollow…”

 –“The Sheep Queen” (1977).  Originally published under the title “I Heard My Sister Speak My Name.”

The statement that “the more heritage we can produce the more secure we feel” certainly could be one explanation of the proliferation of local historical organizations. Starting organizations could heighten the sense of security that a community feels as it undergoes transformations. The statement though also suggests that it is the public that seeks greater security in knowing its origins.

How might historical organizations build users and supporters by trading on this perceived need for greater security?

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