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Minutes of Board of Directors Rankin County Historical Society Friday, June 7, 2013

The Rankin County Historical Society met at the home of Anne Vanderleest, president, at 9:30 A.M. Present were Ms. Vanderleest, Paul Davis, Ron Thornton, Mary Lou Ayers, James Gould, Mel Corley, and Joan Singletary.

Heritage Day Linda Wolfe, Branch Manager of the Brandon Public Library, was introduced as a special guest. She had requested a meeting with the board members for evaluation of Rankin County Heritage Day held Saturday, April 20, 2013, as a joint effort of the library and RCHS.

It was agreed that Heritage Day was a success, better than 2012 which was the first year the event was offered. The next question was “do we want to do it again”? The answer was a unanimous “yes”.

Participating craftsmen being allowed to sell their handcrafts was brought up. After discussion, it was agreed that participants will be allowed to make sales with the stipulation they must be demonstrating a heritage craft; Heritage Day will not be allowed to become a flea market. Not all participants were pleased with their visibility so we need to work on placement of the participants.

More food and drinks need to be available for sale in the future. Ms. Wolfe suggested that perhaps school groups such as the Key Club or Beta Club be invited to do the sale of refreshments with profits to be given to their organization. She also suggested we contact the schools asking for time during their summer planning sessions for RCHS to present information to teachers to help develop interest in Rankin County’s heritage and Heritage Day. It was also suggested that we use tickets to be stamped in the way the bookmarks were used this year – if your ticket is stamped by a number of different participants, a prize, possibly food or a drink will be given to that person. This will be discussed further at later meetings.

Heritage Day 2014 was set for Saturday, April 26.

Cemetery Updates and Books Mary Lou Ayers reported that she has inventoried the Greater Enochs and Brown Cemeteries. She has updated and taken photos of many of the ones previously inventoried. Some she has placed on “Find a Grave”. Ms. Singletary requested that a CD or thumb drive of the updates be furnished to her for possible inclusion on the RCHS website. Ms. Ayers suggested that she add the phrase “on behalf of the Rankin County Historical Society” to her name to give credit for the “Find a Grave” entry and to support the website. We concurred.

Ms. Vanderleest asked for suggestions on the disposition of the 1,764 copies of our Volume 2 cemetery book that we have in storage. Options for the books seem to be to continue to store them, try to sell them through local connections or the internet, or sell to a mass marketer. After discussion Mr. Corley moved that we contact a mass marketer to sell the books. Mr. Gould seconded the motion. Mr. Gould will attempt to find someone to purchase these books. The board agreed that the Volume 2 would not be digitized for at least three years if a buyer is found.

In searching for a floppy disk, a CD, or film used in the original printing of the cemetery books, a 3-1/2 inch diskette was found labeled 1995 calendar pictures; the diskette was completely blank; perhaps destroyed by heat. This was the only storage medium found in our files. Ms. Singletary contacted Stephens Printing to see if they had retained any storage files containing the original type or layout for the book.  Ms. Singletary offered a ZIP drive and disks to RCHS for storage of documents and pictures. We will use Pat Wellington’s CD to reproduce the book when necessary if the CD can be transferred into a usable format.

Minutes Minutes of the last board meeting held March 8, 2013, were read by Secretary Singletary. Mr. Gould moved they be approved, seconded by Mr. Davis, approved by the board.

Speaker for Joint Meeting RCHS will be host for the next joint meeting with Brandon Genealogical and Historical Society scheduled for July 23 at the Brandon Library. Mr. Gould suggested we find a speaker who could explain the effect the Great Depression had on Rankin County. Suggestions of people who might be able to help with finding a speaker were Frances Rogers Pearson; Mr. Henderson at Millsaps; Rebecca Fairly Blakeney, head of history department at Brandon High School; the Soil Conservation Service; and the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. Ms. Vanderleest will contact the MDAH and Mr. Gould will talk with the others.

RCHS will host the combined November meeting on November 26, during Thanksgiving week, and Ms. Singletary suggested she contact Kay Garrett at Piney Woods School to see if either The Cotton Blossom Singers or the Boys Quartet will be available to present that program.

Field Trips Mr. Davis reminded the board that we have promised field trips to the membership but have not arranged a trip for some time. The Florence Heritage House and the Whitfield Museum were suggested as places to visit. Mr. Davis will check for dates and times these two museums are open and a September trip will be set at the next meeting.

County Ledgers James Gould will contact David Morrow to see if the county will accept the old county ledgers that are currently in the possession of RCHS and where we need to put them.

Shiloh Scanning Harry Black who has been scanning ledgers for RCHS has agreed to scan the ledgers and large record books that contain much of the history of Shiloh Methodist Church. The method that Mr. Black devised simplifies the process; we were unable to do this on RCHS’ first trip to Shiloh in March 2011. Ron Thornton will assist Mr. Black. They plan to do the work within the next two months.

Membership Ms. Singletary gave membership figures for the last three years: in 2011 we had 20 family memberships plus 32 individuals (72); in 2012, 19 family memberships plus 38 individual memberships (76); and currently in 2013 we are showing 15 families and 28 individuals (58). Since attendance has been up for our combined meetings with the Brandon Genealogical and Historical Society, it was suggested that a show of hands determine members and/or visitors at each meeting. Mr. Davis will speak to the attendees at the meetings to encourage them to attend. We also discussed wearing name tags and to be sure to greet any guests.

It was suggested that perhaps we need to send out another letter asking for payment of dues. Ms. Singletary pointed out that a letter and membership form was mailed in January; a second letter was sent with form to those not paid (end of February or first of March) followed up by e-mail to those using e-mail.

A couple of suggestions were made but not discussed, that we offer “extended” memberships and perhaps “lifetime” memberships, as well as discussing combined membership dues with BGHS at the next meeting.

      1.            Website Keeping our website up-to-date and adding more resource information to it was pointed out as being very important as we move toward digitization. Digitalization of records was set as one of our goals during the RCHS Board planning meeting held June 3, 2011. Ms. Singletary and David Pepper were commended for the progress that has been made on the RCHS website. (Mr. Pepper is a friend of Ms. Singletary and all the work he does with the website is pro bono.)  More help is always needed, Ms. Singletary pointed out. Mr. Corley offered to help as needed. They will meet on Friday afternoons at the library to keep the website up to date.

Ms. Singletary was asked to add information to the website that the museum is open by appointment and list contact numbers for Ms. Vanderleest, Mr. Davis, Mr. Gould, and Ms. Singletary.

Ms. Singletary pointed out that one of our current members, Martha Wallace, who lives in Sunnyvale, California, is working at this time on getting the ledgers scanned by Harry Black into an easily read form for research.

Mission and Goals Mission and goals that were set in June of 2011 were discussed; it was agreed that the organization has accomplished many of these goals such as:

      The digitalization of many of our records has been done and is an on-going project.

      The roofs were replaced on both museum buildings.

      Through programs such as Heritage Day and the Munch on History Series we have reached many throughout the area.

As we began the discussion of our long term goals all agreed that they must be brought to the general membership and will be presented to them at the next general meeting. After much discussion of goals the board members agreed on five goals that they hope to accomplish within the next one to five years.

Some of the topics included:

      1.            Secure financing and grants for the organization.

      2.            Market the society; become more visible in the community by utilizing the local political administrations, tourism, and our own membership.

      3.            Organize the museum.

      4.            Improve and update the displays in the museum.

      5.            Install climate control in the museum.

      6.            Improve curb appeal by painting the exterior of the buildings, expand parking and make more building repairs such as the ramps and shutters, plus more signage.

      7.            Clean out storage building in back.

      8.            Designating coordinates for historical sites.

      9.            Update our inventory, possibly purchase a database, and photograph artifacts.

  10.            Digitizing (already in our goals from 2011).

  11.            Update Cemetery book or put it on our website.

Museum Planning – Interior and Exterior In preparation for this planning meeting, all members of the executive board went to Starkville on May 24 to visit the Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum. Cindy Gardener of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History suggested when she visited RCHS Museum two years ago that we visit Oktibbeha to see what they have accomplished with their museum; their collection and purpose is very similar to our holdings. After the visit a letter was sent to Mayor Parker Wiseman of Starkville expressing our appreciation for the courtesy extended to our board during the visit. A letter of thanks, along with a check for $50 was sent to the chairman of the board, Ms. Betsy Longest, for the generous sharing of their knowledge.

See attached notes from meeting with board of Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum.

Limitations that we face as plans are made for the museum buildings to be updated are finances, physical limitations of our active members, lack of participation by membership, and lack of climate control in the buildings.

Immediate needs are detailed on the attached Museum Planning sheets.

After discussion, the board agreed on five items that we hope to be able to accomplish in the museum before the end of the present term of office.

  1. 1.      Update the displays.
  2. 2.      Complete an accurate inventory.
  3. 3.      Paint the exterior and repair the ramps.
  4. 4.      Make the city, county and community more aware of our mission and make known that the organization needs participation as well as financial support.
  5. 5.      Grow our membership and extend its involvement and support.

Goals for next six months:

  1. 1.      Who will do the painting? Will it be in-house or will we be able to hire someone? We must get cost estimates.
  2. 2.      Publish a newsletter focusing on this board meeting to be issued before the July 23 general membership meeting and recruit help to fulfill our goals.
  3. 3.      Decide which repairs will be made and when; again get cost estimates.
  4. 4.      What color/colors will be used for house, store, ramp, and lattice work? Mr. Davis has a friend who might be able to digitally superimpose colors on our structures to help in making color choices. Period colors will be used.
  5. 5.      Ms. Ayers will call members to encourage them to attend our meetings.
  6. 6.      The board is considering a business meeting to include members wanting to be involved in planning; not just listen to a speaker.
  7. 7.      Increase our membership. Mr. Davis will ask for a show of hands at the upcoming July 23 meeting to determine the number of visitors and members attending our meetings while offering an invitation for non-members to join. As we move forward on plans for the museum, the society needs to show community backing in the number of members supporting RCHS.

A recess was called and Ms. Vanderleest served lunch to the members before the meeting was resumed.

Immediate To-Dos

      Ms. Singletary was asked to begin work on an RCHS Newsletter for the general membership concerning the topics discussed at this meeting. This letter is to be sent before the July meeting.

      A letter is to be drafted to clubs and organizations to tell them of our organization and its mission. Short programs concerning our work and the history of Rankin County will be offered to them.

      Design a new brochure about RCHS, using the one published several years ago as a basis.

      Board members were given a list of RCHS Museum Display Ideas compiled from all the ideas suggested by the members. Ms. Vanderleest asked that each of us choose the Top 10 display divisions that we would like to see included in the museum. Please return your Top 10 List to Ms. Vanderleest by Friday, June 21.

The meeting was adjourned at 3:30 P.M.

Submitted by Joan Singletary, Secretary

Dates to Remember

Friday, July 19 Board Meeting follow up to this June 7 meeting

Tuesday, July 23 RCHS and BGHS combined meeting with RCHS hosting

Tuesday, September 24 BGHS and RCHS combined meeting with BGHS hosting

Tuesday, November 26 RCHS and BGHS combined meeting with RCHS hosting

To Do List for Board Members

Each board member has his/her personal list of to do items agreed on during the meeting. Anne Vanderleest e-mailed the list to each of us.

Attachments: Agenda Mission/Goals Notes from visit to Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum Museum Planning Painting of the Museum RCHS Museum Display Ideas RCHS To Do Items