Friends of Sandwich Town Archives
Helping to Preserve the Historical Treasures of Sandwich, Massachusetts
The Founding of FOSTA
Richard J. Connor, former Sandwich Library Director
Richard J. Connor and his role in the founding of the Friends of the Sandwich Town Archives
Until the founding of FOSTA, the Town Archives were a department of the Town Clerk at the time, Barbara George Walling. The archives department was located in the attic of the Town Hall Annex across the street from the library and Barbara Luksanen Gill was the part-time Town Archivist.
In 2003, the Town Select Board, Finance Committee and Town Administrator decided to withdraw funding for the town Archives. It was then that Sandwich Public Library Director at the time, Richard J. Connor, gathered stake holders in a meeting in the Dodge MacKnight room of the library to discuss his proposal to create a "Friends Of" group to save the Town Archives.
After the meeting, Richard immediately applied for the needed 501C3 tax exempt status so that FOSTA could begin requesting donations, and a committee was formed, the make-up of which was based on the former “Archives Committee” that had been in existence in the 1970s and thereon for some years.
The first task of the committee was to raise funds to pay the small salary of Barbara Gill since the town was no longer a support system for the Archives. Another important task was to address the desperate need to find proper storage for the archival materials on hand.
This is where Richard Connor came to the rescue once again by providing a new home for the Archives in the library's Dodge MacKnight Room.
Groups of volunteers physically moving all the materials out of the attic space and into the Macknight Room was a mammoth task. Committee member Kaethe Maguire vividly recalls Russell Lovell, the Town's first Archivist and already a senior citizen, carrying box after box of books down flights of stairs from the attic and across the street into the library.
Months of cleaning and organization followed. Members of FOSTA spent days and weeks, scrubbing, painting and organizing to try and make some semblance of order of materials that had never been allowed the space to be properly stored. The second room of the attic in the Town Hall Annex was always referred to as the ‘dark hole of Calcutta” by everyone. One bare light bulb hung from the ceiling as books were piled everywhere and some not even on shelves. Climatic control was completely absent.
By 2006 the Library Trustees voted to adopt the Sandwich Town Archives as part of the Sandwich Public Library.
Some of the first members who would go on to serve on FOSTA for many years were:
· Beth Ellis, long time head reference librarian
· Barbara Walling, Town Clerk
· Kaethe O. Maguire, library trustee and member of the Sandwich Historical Commission
· Richard Connor, Library Director
· Bob Ellis, a 1973 founder of the Town Archives
· Barbara L. Gill, archivist and a 1973 founder of the Town Archives
· Nezka Pfeifer, Sandwich Glass Museum and Historical Society curator
· Linda Pope Marsh, acting Treasurer at the time
· Bob Gunshor, member of the Sandwich Historical Commission
· David Goehringer, former library trustee