State of the Historical Society (SOTHS)

Last week, President Obama delivered the annual State of the Union message. It is with SOTU still on my mind that I offer a similar address, this one though, concerns the State of the Historical Society…  Let’s call it SOTHS.

My fellow history enthusiasts:

2015 was a dynamic year at the La Grange Area Historical Society; we started strong and only seemed to gain momentum as time progressed. In the past, I’ve heard it suggested there isn’t much going on in these sort of places save for some kindly tea-sipping ladies waiting for the doorbell to ring. You don’t have to look far at LGAHS to see how completely we defy this stereotype. We continue to preserve our collective heritage with objectivity and consistency. We also understand the importance of continually seeking out the most effective strategies, not just to tell stories that have already happened, but also to write new ones.

John Burns, LGAHS member, offers walking tours and talks highlighting significant architectural moments in the history of La Grange with “What’s Wright in La Grange?” and “Heart of La Grange: Now and Then.” An armchair tour of the historic district was offered at the La Grange Public Library in mid-October. Spring 2016 we anticipate offering a family friendly bicycle tour of La Grange.

I must backtrack a bit at this point to talk about our presence on social media. This year wasn’t without some turbulence—our original Facebook page is eternally locked after I entered the wrong password. Check out our new Facebook page by searching for: The La Grange Area Historical Society.  Around this same time, community member John Janowski offered us greater exposure by sharing our posts on the LaGrangeIL Facebook page (7,400 followers). All is now right in the social media sphere.

Prior to the Frank Lloyd Wright tours, our President sent letters to the homeowners on our path alerting them that we’d be bringing a large group to marvel at their homes. Because of this, one of the them volunteered to assist us with creating a new website. It dropped on November 10th, and thanks to the talent and diligence of Brian Opyd it’s both bold and historical. In addition to the outstanding use of photos from long ago, the site boasts an interactive map of properties in La Grange and La Grange Park, and this blog that you’re reading. It also offers you the ability to make online donations and register for events.

One of our primary goals has always been to make our collections relevant and accessible to present and future generations. For the future, we continue digitizing our materials. We also continue to discuss ways of making our collection easier to search. For the present, we are partnering with people and organizations throughout the villages of La Grange and La Grange Park to disseminate information. Stick around because 2016 is already shaping up to be another one for the books.

 

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