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High School Students Care for School Collection

Shortridge High School is Indiana’s oldest public high school and has been an integral part of the rich history of the state and the city of Indianapolis. The Shortridge archives hold documents and artifacts dating to the opening of the school’s current building in the 1920s and well beyond. Shortridge Archives Club scholars and educators recognized the importance of preserving their history. They applied for a Heritage Support Grant from IHS to purchase materials to help them care for the collection, record the school’s history through an oral history project, and allow for increased public use of the SHS archives.

Scholars were able to purchase database software and one year of support. The grant also helped purchase storage materials such as acid-free folders and boxes, foam padding and polyethylene sleeves so that the archives materials could be properly stored and preserved. Finally, the grant funded an iPad and microphone to take to alumni events for recording oral histories and creating promotional videos.

During the project, SHS Archives Club members met with staff from the Indiana Historical Society and the Indiana State Museum. Staff from both organizations visited SHS during the school year to tour the facilities and archives, and to give advice on preserving the collection. The students also took field trips to both institutions to learn more about best practices in conservation and exhibition.

As a result of the project, the club members learned how to properly care for fragile artifacts and documents. Before receiving the grant, scholars had limited resources to care for the collection. With the purchase of the proper materials and equipment, scholars are able to put their learning into action.

“We’re looking forward to using the iPad and other audio equipment to work with alumni and possibly current students to add an entire oral history aspect to our archives,” says Zoe, a junior. M.J., also a junior, adds, “While we’re still not up to IHS standards yet, I feel we’ve come a long way from the chaotic jumble of books, papers and trophies we started with. This grant has set us up not only to preserve the archives already in our collection, but also gives us the ability to assume new archives and expand our ability to actively seek out history as it’s happening.”

The SHS Archives Club – in addition to continuing to organize and care for the collection – is promoting access to the collection for SHS scholars, educators and the public.

Heritage Support Grants are provided by the Indiana Historical Society and made possible by Lilly Endowment Inc.

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