From left: Jennifer Brown, former New Era reporter and Kentucky Historical Society Governing Board Chair, Dr. Mandy Higgins, Community Engagement Administrator for KHS, Alissa Keller, Executive Director of Museums of Historic Hopkinsville-Christian County, Robert Martin, Museum Board Chair and City of Hopkinsville Chief Financial Officer, Ashley Weaver, Museum Registrar and Taylor Hayes, former owner and publisher of the New Era and current Christian County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO all pose for a photo after the KHS awarded the Hopkinsville Museums with the $2,500 Kentucky Local History Trust Fund grant to help the Museums establish the Kentucky New Era-Wood Family Archive Project.

Museums of Historic Hopkinsville-Christian County announced that it was recently awarded a $2,500 grant from the Kentucky Historical Society to help the museums with its new Kentucky New Era-Wood Family Archive Project.

Hopkinsville Museums was one of four recipients of the Kentucky Local History Trust Fund grant through the Kentucky Historical Society.

The grant is intended to support the efforts of local history organizations to preserve and share Kentucky stories, according to the Kentucky Historical Society.

Historical organizations in four Kentucky counties received grants through the program, rewarding a total of $5,875 between the four counties. Each county could apply and receive between $335 to $2,500, for projects related to technology updates and programming.

Christian County and the Hopkinsville Museums was one of those four counties and received the max amount of $2,500.

Museums Executive Director Alissa Keller shared that the grant funds will be used to help the museums with its Kentucky New Era-Wood Family Archive Project.

“We are so grateful for this opportunity in general, for the Kentucky Local History Trust Fund to be established,” Keller said of receiving the grant.

“We are just tickled to death that we are able to receive some of this funding, receive that support, not just locally, but statewide on this project and gives us the opportunity to house and preserve local history and regional history — state history even, through these newspapers.”

The project will establish a climate-controlled repository in the basement of the Pennyroyal Area Museum to house the extensive collection of the Kentucky New Era newspaper and some of its contemporaries, such as the Kentuckian, which was produced in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

“We’ll have all those here, so that gives us a chance to put all the newspapers in one spot and make an archive that honors our legacy of local newspapers and local journalists as well as the Wood family,” Keller said.

“Because, the Wood family bought into the Kentucky New Era I think in the early 1870s and was then involved up to 2018. So, it’s a way to honor their legacy and news here in the community. And, ideally, it’ll also be a research resource for the community.”

The project funds will be used to unify a scattered collection and preserve the bound volumes of the New Era newspapers.

The funding will more specifically be used to purchase shelving to hold the collection as well as archival boxes.

Keller shared that while the newspapers would be held in the basement of the Pennyroyal Area Museum, the area was not originally climate controlled.

So, the Museums purchased and installed a dehumidifier in the room to help mitigate moisture in the room that could potentially damage the archival collection.

Keller added that the room is however able to be closed and sealed, which will help further protect the newspapers.

Keller also shared that the Museums will also be purchasing a space heater to regulate the temperature in the room to allow it to be more climate-controlled.

“The paper itself is fairly unstable and it’s hard to preserve, so they deteriorate quickly, and we have some that date back to the 1880s,” Keller said. “So, we’re going to do our best to take care of them. If the newspapers are available in a way that is not handling the originals, we’re going to try to utilize that and luckily, a lot have been digitized.”

Keller explained that while the archive will mainly be used to house and preserve the New Era newspapers, the public will be able to go into the archive to either observe some of the displays the Museum will have or to allow people to do research.

“We will have a display case in the room so we can put out and rotate some things in there to show off,” Keller said. “We’ll put some art on the walls, front pages and that kind of stuff and get copies of fun front-page stories.”

However, the public will only be able to visit the archive by appointment.

“Because of where it is in the building, we can’t just leave it open and that’s to protect the things that are there and because, like I said, it’s physical location within our structure,” Keller said. “So, by appointment, we would be happy to take folks down and again, the things down there are all archival, so we don’t want to just let people in there to bump through everything all the time.”

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