by Steven Rice, Manager, Door County Historical Museum and Archives
For almost 50 years, history buffs and family researchers have relied on the Door County Library for its extensive collection of local history resources.
In 2020, the library expanded its historical family by merging with the Door County Archives and assuming management of the Door County Historical Museum, bringing some of the county’s most treasured documents and artifacts that much closer to the public. These partnerships offer exciting, new possibilities for library users, and they secure the future of Door County history for years to come.
The Door County Archives is the largest collection of documentary history in Door County, covering everything from the personal papers of some of Sturgeon Bay’s early settlers to orchard records, lighthouse logs, tourist brochures and audio recordings. Through its partnership with the library, the archives is now able to administer Door County Speaks, an oral-history project that puts kits of oral-history resources in every Door County Library branch for checkout. The strong focus on community that libraries provide makes programs such as this possible.
A fixture in the county since 1939, the Door County Historical Museum also benefits from its association with the library. New museum projects include a multiyear commemoration of the home-front experience during WWII, a retrospective on 150 years of the Door County Fair and expanding online heritage tours in the CLIO app.
Sharing publicity resources and ideas with the library has helped make these projects possible, and they will inspire innovative programming in the future.