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Archives Museum more than a link to the past, it’s relevant to today

By: Carol Feineman, Editor
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Know and Go What: Lincoln’s Got Talent Where: Lincoln High School’s performing arts theater When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 23 Why: To help raise funds for the Lincoln Area Archives Museum Cost: $8 for adults and $5 for children. Purchase tickets at The News Messenger, The Place and the Wardrobe Info: 645-7733 I don’t have any relatives who grew up in Lincoln. Not in this century or in the past two centuries. In fact, before I began working in Lincoln a year ago, I had no ties to Lincoln. And I’ve never lived in an area that my ancestors once called home. With that said, I really appreciate the Lincoln Area Archives Museum. The museum has more than 1,000 old photographs and more than 2,000 city records and historic documents about Lincoln, Virginiatown, Fruitvale, Gold Hill, Daneville, Sheridan, Whiskey Diggins and other western Placer County areas. It also houses area artifacts, ranging from Indian arrowheads, a milk separator to a Gladding, Mcbean display and a Carnegie Library display. In addition, the Archives are home to 100-plus files on families here for more than 100 years. These files were compiled in the early 1990s by Jerry Logan with pictures organized by Wes Freeman. The Archives Museum, founded 16 years ago by Logan, Freeman and Don Logan in part of the Carnegie Library’s basement, is today growing. Not only in space and materials but in its transformation from a grassroots group under the Native Sons of the Golden West’s auspices into a nonprofit organization. The Archives have moved twice from its original location at the Carnegie Library. The first time was in the late ’90s to the building where the Lincoln Area Chamber of Commerce is now at and then in July 2008 to 472 E St. The latter move happened when City Council let the Archives move to the city’s E St. building because the Archives’ previous tiny quarters weren’t conducive to storing valuable historical materials nor sharing them with the public. Run by a handful of volunteers and currently in the process of incorporating as a nonprofit, the Archives will be open to the public three days a week, as of Monday. Less than a week ago, the building was only open two hours a week, due to a lack of volunteers. Now the Archives Museum is experiencing growing pains, both financially and in attracting both volunteers and visitors. “We’re a bare-bones operation,” said Shirley Russell, the Archives’ volunteer executive director. “Our preliminary budget is $7,000 a year. We need to buy our own insurance as a nonprofit at $2,500. We need a scanner for the pictures brought in to us but we also need supplies like a paper cutter, ink and scotch tape. We need more volunteers to greet people when they come in and assist them. We need a typist for the documenting. We need a receptionist.” And she wants the museum to be crowded with visitors. “Some weeks, we have five to 10 visitors. People don’t know about us. They don’t know where we are,” she said. Which is a shame because, as Spencer Short, who is the legal adviser and also a Lincoln native, said, “The Archives are a link to our history. If we forget our history, then we don’t know who we are.” And Lincoln has one of the richest histories in California, according to Russell. “It’s quite unique because people stayed in Lincoln. Family members of the original roots are still here. We have the coal, clay, copper and iron mines, and marble and granite quarries in the Lincoln area,” Russell said. “The more I learn about Lincoln, the more I’m fascinated. We have the Civil War leaders out here at Camp Far West. Sergeants and lieutenants became the big shots in the war. Camp Far West was an Army camp, established in 1849 to protect the farmers living here.” Spending time at the Archives can be quite entertaining and educational, according to Short. “You can find information on family trees, on who were the key players during the development of Lincoln, what made certain decisions happen and all about the smaller communities that fed into Lincoln,” Short said. “It’s a great resource that could be more heavily utilized by the school district, Sierra College and Sac State. The quality of work the Archives’ volunteers have done to preserve documents is impressive. The Archives Museum is Lincoln’s best-kept secret.” Enough said by Short and Russell, who are two of Lincoln’s biggest supporters. Take a few minutes for yourself and visit the Archives. What have you got to lose? You’ll find a wealth of local information basically in your backyard. Carol Feineman can be reached at carolf@goldcountrymedia.com