The Bethel Historical Society has entered into a collaboration with Gould Academy that will result in the long-term preservation of the “Gould Archives” — a wide-ranging collection of documents, photographs, books and objects significant to the history of the school, which was founded in 1836 as “Bethel Academy.”
The archives are being placed on long-term loan to the society which, with its newly completed Mary E. Valentine Collections Wing, is in a position to carefully monitor and maintain the archives while also making it available for display and study purposes, according to a BHS press release.
Over the past few decades, on-site supervision of the Gould archives has been carried out on a voluntary basis by James B. Owen, who was on the Gould faculty from 1958 to 1997 and was founding head of the Academy’s art department. In addition to tracking down items worthy of safeguarding within the archives, Owen has spent considerable time cataloging portions of the collection using PastPerfect Museum Software, the same computer-based cataloging program long utilized by the society.
During the months of March and April, Bethel Historical Society staff and volunteers coordinated with Jim Owen and Nathalie Berry, Administrative Assistant to the Head of School, while transferring the Gould Archives from crowded storage space on the third floor of Hanscom Hall to the society’s recently-expanded museum facility on nearby Broad Street.
Currently being inventoried, items in the Gould Archives parallel the society’s own holdings relating to the school’s past. To mark this preservation effort, the society plans to open a short-term exhibition of selected items from the archives to coincide with the school’s Alumni Weekend, which will take place from Sept. 26 through 28.