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The Thompson-Ames Historical Society writes a
weekly column for the Gilford Steamer.

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Let’s Spot Light Some Behind-the-Scene Efforts

It has taken the efforts of many, many people over the past 62 years to enable Thompson-Ames Historical Society to carry out its mission, “to preserve and celebrate the cultural history of Gilford, New Hampshire.”
Calendar listings, news releases, mini-posters, letters, e-mails, etc. are used to communicate information about programs, field trips, demonstrations, open house events, monthly Heritage Arts and Crafts Bees and other activities which are open free of charge to Society members and to the public.

At the same time, the ever-growing number of items in the Thompson-Ames Historical Society collections need to be addressed. This is a two-part process.

First of all, for each item offered to the Society, a Temporary Custody Receipt needs to be made out and submitted along with the item to the Society’s curators whose role it is to ascertain whether or not each item is appropriate to Thompson-Ames Historical Society’s Accession Policy Guidelines. For each item accepted as appropriate, the curators then fill out with the donor a Deed of Gift.

In turn, each item and its paper work are turned over to Diane Mitton, who serves as collection manager for Thompson-Ames Historical Society. The collection manager assigns an accession number to each item and records all pertinent information in the Society’s Past Perfect program.
In the most recent time period, there have been three volunteers serving as co-curators, namely, Judy DalPan, Shirley Burns and Dot Pangburn. Individually and collectively, they have made admirable progress in their work, which, in part, addressed helping the Society formulate its Accession Policy Guidelines. At present, the Society is in need of volunteer(s) to work with Judy DalPan in carrying out curator responsibilities.

Visitors who come to attend an activity or see a demonstration sometimes find themselves stepping forward unexpectedly to assist Thompson-Ames Historical Society in some way. Such was the case during T-AHS’s Vintage Wood Working Exhibit and Demonstration and Open House on Saturday, July 9th. One of the visitors that morning was Gilford resident Fred Kacprzynski whose attention was drawn to several items on display.

Afterwards, to satisfy his curiosity, he did some research on the internet and then shared his findings with T-AHS. One aspect of his research findings pertains to the 1880s vintage treadle lathe that Stan Piper was demonstrating. T-AHS greatly appreciates this and similar input which ultimately benefits the Society’s work.

This article presents an opportunity to share another outgrowth of a T-AHS activity, one which took place on Saturday, April 30th at the Gilford Community Church. The successful event, “New Hampshire Quilt Documentation Day,” attracted the attention of many owners of quilts and other quilted textiles. Documented that day were many quilted textiles, including 31 quilted items in Thompson-Ames Historical Society’s collections. Documentation of each item included dating of the fabrics used, noting the condition of each quilt and recommendations of special needs, as well as suggestions for proper storage. It was noted that two crazy quilts that had been revamped as drapes needed pins removed to preserve them as vintage textiles.

Stephanie Drake, a member of the New Hampshire Quilt Documentation Project Phase II, followed up participation in that day’s event by volunteering her expertise to help T-AHS address the needs of its many quilts, which are classified as “utility quilts” or “working man’s quilts.” She came to the T-AHS museum buildings to help refold each quilt “to ease fold lines”, as she said, and to use old cotton sheets to help protect each quilt from the wood acids of wooden furniture, including the blanket chests in which the Society had received them.

Observing the circumstances of each museum building, she commented, “Two of the three museum settings are not only heated year round but also are air-conditioned, thereby providing more even temperature and humidity control essential to textile preservation.” She then added, “Temperature fluctuation, as would be the case if textiles are stored in an unheated attic, contributes to the deterioration of textile.”

During Quilt Documentation Day, each quilted textile had been assigned a quilt documentation number with a note as to the Thompson-Ames Historical Society accession number, name of the pattern (i.e., 9-patch, crazy quilt, butterfly appliqué, log cabin, 4-patch, utility quilts), etc. In turn, a Quilt Documentation Label was provided for each quilt. Again as a volunteer, Stephanie Drake visited the T-AHS quilt displays in the Gilford museum buildings and sewed the appropriate Quilt Documentation Label onto the back surface of each quilt.

Another behind-the-scene item involves the Grange Museum Building, where the monthly Heritage Arts and Crafts Bees have continued on into the summer thanks to the ceaseless efforts of volunteers. Carol Anderson has kept an even hand on the activities offered in Grange Hall while the Thursday morning work each week by Stan Piper and Gus Pinto has kept a steady flow of activities involving Wooden Toys of Historic Design.
Another museum site where behind-the-scene efforts deserve to be spot lighted is the Benjamin Rowe House, at 88 Belknap Mountain Road in Gilford Village. The wide range of efforts includes replacement of the picket fence by Jim Colby and Stan Piper, staining the fence by Tony Lancia and Mary Frost (among others), creating the gardens not only by adults (under the leadership of Carmel Lancia and Marge Muehlke) but also by the students in Wendy Oeller’s third-grade class, and Marge Muehlke’s coordinating of watering and weedings efforts (provided by Doreen and Gerald Knight, Diane Mitton, Kathy Lacroix, to mention just a few). Much progress has been made in giving the historic Rowe House a suitable garden setting.

Without question, volunteer efforts such as these, coupled with essential financial donations, enable this 501(c)(3) non-profit organization to function successfully in carrying out its mission.
There are many, many opportunities for other caring folks to step forward to offer their services as volunteers in this 62 year-old Gilford tradition.
To contact Thompson-Ames Historical Society, telephone 527-9009. Also visit T-AHS’s website www.gilfordhistoricalsociety.org.