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A call to all advocates for museums and heritage

July 23, 2012

A pie safe with milk bottles, tin egg box and kitchen tools on display at the Loudoun Museum. Source:

In a post on this blog last week, I discussed the plight of the Loudoun Museum, in Leesburg, Va., which is facing the threat of a complete cut to its county funding, a move that would likely shutter the institution and disperse its collection. I encouraged readers to take action by contacting the county’s board of supervisors, and I am very pleased that several people have done so. A small group of advocates has come together over this issue, and we have a real chance to make a difference. But we need your help.

After a brief summary of what the museum faces, and what could be lost if the board votes against it, I’ll present the very simple steps you can take to help us save this important institution.

As I wrote previously, and as Richelle Brown relates on the Loudoun History blog, the Loudoun Museum curates nearly 8,000 artifacts, including the irreplaceable Lucas-Heaton letters, between freed slaves and their former masters. The building itself was once the African-American-owned “Do Drop Inn.” Its significance for African-American history is beyond question, and in addition to the letters, its collection includes textiles, objects and other documents significant to the county’s rich history.

The museum, as I noted, is located in the wealthiest county in the United States, and it has proven willing to work with the board to seek a sustainable solution to its own funding.

When I contacted the board to urge it to vote for funding, I received a very encouraging reply from supervisor Geary Higgins, which I will quote in part:

I agree with you completely, and I am a strong supporter of funding the museum. I believe that the value that the museum contributes to our community far outweighs the funding they ask for. We live in one of the most historical spots in the country, preserving and celebrating that fact is worth such a small cost.

This item will come before the Board at our first meeting in September. I intend on doing everything I can to protect the funding.

Please continue to contact the other members of the Board about your support for funding the museum (encourage friends and family to contact them as well).

How you can help: Email

So this is where your help is urgently needed. We’re asking a very simple thing: Contact the board, and ask the members to sustain funding for the museum at their meeting in September. It doesn’t matter if you live in the county or not. If you’ve ever enjoyed a local museum, or if you are a researcher who has used resources like those in the Loudoun Museum in your own work, let the members know how important the museum is.

This link lists email addresses for the board members. A message to the main account, bos “at”, goes to each of them.

How you can help: Twitter

I’d be very grateful if you could go another step and help us take the campaign to Twitter. Three people are taking the lead on this: Richelle C. Brown (@BirchCelloWren), FrannMarie Jacinto (@POPinDC), and myself (@JohnRRoby). We’ve established @LoudounMuseum as well, and you can follow us all for updates on how we’re doing, and for further suggestions on how you can help. Feel free to tweet support with the #LoudounMuseum tag, and copy in the Loudoun County board at @LoudounCoGovt.

How you can help: Blogs

I will continue to update Digs and Docs on this issue, and Richelle Brown has launched the Loudoun History blog, which will relate some of the stories from the county’s history, discuss the importance of local history in theory and practice, and advocate for local museum and heritage resources in Loudoun and beyond.

You can sign up for updates at both sites, and easily share posts on Twitter and Facebook, and let us know how we’re doing through comments.

How you can help: Keep us posted!

We’d love to hear about your experiences with the Loudoun Museum or other ones, via Twitter, Facebook, email, or comments on the blogs. And if you do write the board, let us know about it!

All of these very simple steps will help as we make our final case to the board just before its meeting. Thanks from all of us for your continuing help!

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