20 Years of the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center

The Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center celebrates 20 years since its dedication on November 26, 1999. It was a culmination of years of effort and dedication come to fruition, ensuring Loren Ted and Alice (Richardson) Sloane’s dream of a “premiere genealogy and local history collection” came true. Partnering with the Davenport Public Library’s Special Collections Center, in existence since 1982, the Sloane’s generously donated their research collection, time, and financial resources to create the beautiful space located in the lower level of the Library now known as the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center.

Between the extensive Scott County Iowa Genealogical Society and Library acquisitions, a larger staff was required, jumping from three individuals to five. A half-time Archivist devoted to the City of Davenport’s records also came aboard a few years later. Over the years, the Center’s staffing changed as people left to pursue other opportunities and new people were hired to support the Center’s mission.

Twenty years of growth has occurred thanks to generous donors, the establishment of an endowment fund, a foundation, a number of grants, and a lot of hardworking volunteers and staff. One foundation bolstering our mission is the Lorraine Duncan Foundation which was established to support the preservation of and access to local historic records.

Today the Center can proudly boast of helping researchers from all over the world, assisting the City of Davenport personnel, and providing reference and resource material to Quad Citizens of all ages as they explore the wide variety of primary and secondary sources available within the Center’s always expanding collection.

In addition, programming and outreach activities provided the community an opportunity to learn about the accomplishments and services of the Center and what it has in its collections.  One notable community event was the first Quad Cities Archives Crawl that promoted local history and cultural organizations.  The activities, the people, and space all experienced alterations and reconfigurations to better serve the public.

On November 18, 2019, we celebrated our 20th Anniversary with a delightful open house showcasing remarks from the Library Board of Trustees President, the Library Director, the Scott County Iowa Genealogical Society President, and a recitation of “The Tally Ho Coach!” by Dale Haake, the current Poet Laureate of the Quad Cities.  We displayed hands-on exhibits on local history, genealogy and City Archives collections as well as examples of how we preserve and conserve materials, and materials belonging to the Scott County Iowa Genealogical Society held at the Special Collections Center.

We featured the portrait restoration of Anna Price Dillon completed by Audrey Brown, an art conservator. Next to this excellent restoration, we highlighted a future project of restoring Mrs. Dillon’s husband, Judge John Dillon. The Dillons were a local family were members of many organizations in the city. After the restoration is completed both portraits will be hung in the Special Collections Center.

Additionally, we have seen a number of other large scale conservation projects completed at the Center. The conservation of the 1857 Map of the City of Davenport and its Suburbs, Scott County Iowa, created by James T. Hogane and H. Lambach, was completed in July 2012 as well as the stabilization and conservation of the historical Donatello Frieze donated to the Carnegie Library.

The Center received an impromptu reconfiguration which allowed for more effective use of the space for using our archives and manuscript collections and the chance to highlight some lesser known collections.

We engaged the community with numerous programs, exhibits, and social media posts. We had our first ever summer genealogy night which was a great success. We had local historians speak on Colonel Davenport and Charles A. Ficke, we learned how to create beautiful book arts, and we visited historical and cultural organizations. We had several exhibits that expanded our knowledge on the history of the book, the history of the local chapter of the NAACP, space exploration, and the history of Cook’s Point.

As we reflect on the years past, we are reminded that a new year is awaiting us full of possibilities. We are working toward providing more tools and opportunities to access and learn about the materials we collect and preserve that document our community.

Here are some photos from Celebration of the Center: 20th Anniversary Open House of the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center.

(posted by the Staff of the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center)

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