Historical society turns 53 years old.

August 11, 2020

Historical society turns 53 years old.

Community members encouraged to donate ‘birthday gifts.’

The Oceana County Historical and Genealogical Society is celebrating its 53rd birthday Aug. 28.

The society plans to hold a Facebook/Mail-in Fundraiser and is inviting community members to consider sending birthday gifts in appreciation for this wonderful county resource. Now more than ever the society would like to remind the community there are many reasons to celebrate and join in the important work of preserving Oceana County history.

“We’re not funded by any tax or public monies; all resources come from membership fees, grants and donations,” said new Society President Paul Erickson. “We have a volunteer board of directors who oversee the many gifts and donations, maintenance and upkeep, educational projects and programs. They are invaluable in keeping the Chadwick-Munger House Headquarters and Mears Museum Complex staffed and in working order. We really want to keep this resource out in front of our community for generations to come. It has been handed on to us and we want to be good stewards of that trust, so that future generations can benefit.”

As well as access to some of the most knowledgeable volunteers in the county, the community has access to over 20,000 photographs of Oceana’s people and places; the society’s master index containing nearly 1 million entries of the names and topics of people – all searchable online at OceanaHistory.org; an unbelievable collection of artifacts from the past including foreign documents (many translated) of military service, religious ceremonies, births of people associated with our county and dating back to the 1850s; numerous museum artifacts including antique clothing, tools, cars, tractors, snowmobiles you haven’t seen on the road in decades; school records including documentation of residency and familial connections during the missing census period of 1881 through 1899, and newer; tax records dating from the 1880s offering additional residency proofs; Native American records; obituary files in excess of 150,000 records; a massive vital records including births and deaths, divorces, marriages and other legal documents along with the largest collection of old newspapers in the region.

John McNamara works in the photo room.

“Many volunteer hours and the generous financial contributions of people from all over the world have kept the society alive and a valuable resource for over 50 years. We gladly welcome others to join our work; there are opportunities for all ages, skill and interest levels. Even though our master index contains nearly 1 million entries, that is only an estimated 4 percent of possible entries,” said Betty Driscoll, society data volunteer.

Birthday gifts of any size are welcome. Individuals giving $20 or more will receive a free one-year membership which comes with a few perks, including a discount on copying costs, rental fees of the church and hall in Mears and research fees. In fact, if you’re looking for a small gathering or wedding facility, your membership discount pays for itself immediately. Those wishing to give online via the GoFundMe page will be able to access details at Oceana County Historical & Genealogical Society on Facebook starting, Aug. 4.

Loretta Harjes works on keeping the thousands of obituaries in order at the Oceana County Historical and Genealogical Society headquarters in Hart.

Birthday gifts to the society can also be mailed to or dropped in the mail slot at the Oceana County Historical and Genealogical Society, 114 Dryden Street, Hart MI 49420. The society is a 501c(3) non-profit organization and all financial gifts will receive a tax receipt. Society headquarters are open Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Helpful volunteers are available to accept artifact or monetary donations, as well as assist visitors with their inquiries. If possible, please call 231-873-2600 for an appointment.

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