Presentation Notes: 2007-2008

Brewster Archives

Presented by Suzanne Teuteberg and Sally Gunning - January 9, 2008

Notes by Jeanne M. Carley

Brewster is now in the process of making its town records more accessible to researchers was the good news heard at the January CCGS meeting. Two enthusiastic Brewster librarians told the members how the new Brewster Archives committee is achieving this as a result of a new town-wide-effort. Suzanne Teuteberg, who was new to the Brewster Ladies' Library in 2005, discussed the formation of the nine-member committee, the organizations involved and its representatives. They are the Ladies' Library, the Town clerk's office, the Brewster Historical Society, and the First Parish (Congregational Church), which holds the first town government records.

When the committee first met on November 2005, Ms. Teuteberg said, they all shared a common interest and goals. They now meet regularly each month to coordinate and plan their strategy of making records more accessible to the public. After presenting their mission statement to the selectmen, they became a town committee and met in each others' locations to assess the types of records held by each repository. Some of their accomplishments to date have been conserving, cataloging, winning a grant, plans made to digitize and put data on the web. They continue to pursue grants and have hired the professional archivist who previously worked for the Town Clerk, she explained.

Sally Gunning, the author of Widow's War (the novel's setting was colonial Brewster) and of a new novel coming out in April, described her difficulties in researching Town records for her work. She lifted immense books of Town records down from the shelves only to find nothing was catalogued or indexed and so had to continue lifting these unwieldy volumes of hand-written records. Ms. Gunning expressed immense gratification that the work in progress, including new shelving and finding aids in Town Hall, has already made it much easier to find records and increased research access. However, the goal is to scan all public records for online use, which she claims, "will give a much better picture of the history of Brewster."

Both women spoke about the possibility of having a Brewster History Day here in the future. This would be given by the Massachusetts Studies Project called Mass Memories Road show where the focus is on residents to bringing in their old photos and other artifacts for scanning to create a database of information on the town. "Everyone who lives here probably has a piece of the history of this town, either in documents or pictures," Ms. Gunning stated. These "Road shows" have already been held in Quincy and other Massachusetts towns, and Brewster has applied to hold one this year.

Pat Busch, the new director of the Brewster Historical Society, was also introduced at the meeting and answered some questions.

See the Presentation Notes Index for summaries of other presentations given at the Society's monthly meetings.