“Hey Heidi, I need to know more about a building on Main Street.”
“Talk to Mary,” Heidi says.
I look over at Mary. “Mary, what can you tell me about the old brick building up for sale on Main Street?”
“You mean the one that used to be next to the Gugel Bros. store?” she replies.
Me, bewildered, “Ummm, maybe? I have never even heard of the Gugel Bros. store…”
Without hesitation, Mary stands up. Using the keys on a lanyard around her neck, she unlocks the library door. Along the wall of filing cabinets and bookshelves, she stops. Halfway down the row, second drawer from the bottom, she pulls out a folder with old newspaper clippings and photographs.
“You mean this one,” she replies confidently with a small smirk on her face.
Collection Managers preserve old artifacts, photographs, letters, videos, and anything else you might imagine museums hold. Managing a collection is a difficult job. Items have to be preserved properly. Photographs cannot be kept in any folder. Instead, they must be kept in lignin-free folders to ensure that the photographs are preserved for generations. Oh, and did you know that minor changes in temperature or humidity can also ruin artifacts? Well, they can, and they do. But not here. Mary spends part of each day ensuring that dehumidifiers are emptied, and that humidifiers are properly running. These are just a couple examples of countless minor details that Collections Managers must master and maintain. It's a painstaking and expensive process.
Mary has personally catalogued every item in the FHA collection. 30,000+ artifacts. Our collection literally wouldn’t exist without her. Mary started working in the FHA gift shop in October of 1977. She taught herself the ins and outs of museum work and was officially named the FHA’s Collection Manager and Registrar in 1990.
But Mary is more than a Collection Manager. She is Frankenmuth’s finest historian. She has, self-admittedly, forgotten more than most people know. She has helped countless people recover their family lineage. She has created countless exhibits that have showcased the area’s history.
Sadly, Mary will be leaving us soon. The FHA will be hosting a retirement party for Mary on Thursday, June 17 from 4:00-8:00pm. Please join us in Fischer Hall to congratulate and thank her for everything she has done for the FHA and for Frankenmuth.
Even though she’ll be gone (though not entirely, she has already expressed her desire to volunteer) she will remain Frankenmuth’s finest historian. Want to learn about what life was like in the 1800s? Want to know more about Frankenmuth businesses? Want to know more about your family’s roots? Or anything Frankenmuth related? You can always… talk to Mary.
Nathan is the Director of Education, Events, & Exhibits at the FHA.
We are proud to present History at Home! History at Home is a virtual learning program that includes fun educational content, including a blog and our podcast. Even if you cannot visit us in person, there is still so much to do!