Launched online in May 2020, “Adopt a Piece of History” is both a way for the public to learn more about the Clements Library as well as a vivid demonstration of the impacts of donor support. “Adopting” materials at the Clements—giving towards the costs of acquisition, conservation, and digitization—directly supports the work while also recognizing the donor through a virtual bookplate.
Before the program was on the website, it was conducted through events where selected items from the collections were displayed. People attended to learn more about the materials and to adopt items if they wished. With the uncertainty of the pandemic, an in-person event has been out of the question.
The staff wondered if the same excitement and fun could be achieved through a virtual event and thus the “Adopt a Piece of History” Fest was born. On Thursday, September 9, 2021 at 7:00pm ET this virtual festivity will feature a collage of vignettes highlighting rare historical specimens, stories, music, and backstage views of our work. During the evening curators and staff will discuss the primary source value of such works and applaud the philanthropic impact of supporters.
All are welcome and there is no cost for the program, however, registration is required. Participants will receive a Zoom link as well as a historic recipe for syllabub which can be made with or without alcohol. The virtual doors will open at 6:45pm with host Angela Oonk talking informally with donors about what inspired them to Adopt a Piece of History. Guests will be able to join in the conversation using Chat. At 7:05pm the main event will kick-off with a toast and then a collage spectacle featuring materials from each division, a demonstration from the Conservation Lab, music, and a tour of the Digitization Lab. The program will wind up at 8:15pm with an opportunity to ask the curators questions about items available for adoption and the Clements collections in general.
Adoptable items range in cost from $50 to $7,500 with new items added quarterly. Anne Bennington-Helber, who oversees the program, notes: “Donating through this program is a wonderful way to convey your personal commitment to the study of history and preservation of past knowledge and voices. Adoptions are an excellent way to commemorate an occasion, celebrate a milestone, or honor a great achievement.” Bennington-Helber is available to answer questions as well as assist in matching a person’s interests to a collection item.
Donor Cinda Davis adopted a pair of Warrensburg, Missouri African American family albums, ca. 1870s. “As the proud owner of dozens of family scrapbooks on both my side and my late husband’s side of the family, preserving these archival histories is very important to me.” She made the gift in memory of her late husband Robert E. Russell.