Western Michigan University Grant to Digitally Preserve the Gilmore Car Museum and Richland Library Historic Collection

This isn’t exactly a genealogy article but visiting the Gilmore Car Museum will undoubtedly give you a better appreciation of the automobiles your ancestors may have driven.

Thanks to newsletter reader Roger Moffat’s kind invitation, I had a chance to visit the Gilmore Car Museum 5 years ago and can tell you it is certainly worth the visit. If you have an interest in antique automobiles, a visit is certain a worthwhile experience. If you cannot visit in person, you will soon be able to visit virtually at the Western Michigan University’s digital collections online.

Photo by Dick Eastman

The following is the announcement:

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University received one of five state grants to digitize materials from the Gilmore Car Museum and the Richland Community Library, providing broader access to these special and historic collections and guiding future regional partnerships to make digital collections available across the country.

Amy Bocko, an assistant professor and digital projects librarian, was awarded a $23,758 grant from the Collaborative Library Services‘ program and the Library of Michigan. She will lead a team that provides training, oversight and support to these community partners as they create pilot digital collections. These collections will be made available to the public through the Michigan Service Hub of the Digital Public Library of America.

“Small institutions often lack the resources needed to effectively undertake large-scale digital projects,” Bocko says. “By providing them access to high-quality moveable digitization equipment, digital collection platforms and specialized expertise in the library, we are breaking down these barriers. We aren’t just digitizing collections for our partners, but rather we are teaching our partners the skills needed to continue this work on their own.”

Illustration of the State of Michigan with the words Library of Michigan.

The training materials created during the process and overall findings will help guide future regional partnerships to create digital collections in the community. Bocko, Dr. Sharon Carlson, professor and history librarian, Marianne Swierenga, assistant professor and cataloging and metadata librarian, will support the collaborative project.

“The goal of this grant is to empower and support our partners to digitize and disseminate their unique archival materials using WMU’s long-established digital collections infrastructure and pipeline to the Michigan Memories Project, and help them reach wider audiences,” explains Bocko, the grant’s principal investigator.

Institute of Museum and Library Services.

“We’re very excited to continue the library’s tradition of working with community partners to preserve the region’s cultural history and help uncover hidden treasures,” adds Paul Gallagher, associate dean for resources and digital strategies at WMU Libraries.

The project is funded in part with a Library Services and Technology Act grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services administered by the Library of Michigan.

The grant is awarded by the Collaborative Library Services as part of a new Improving Access to Information program. This program supports a statewide initiative to increase access to digitization technologies so community organizations and individuals can digitally preserve historic documents and share their collections globally.

“We’re excited about what this grant means for not only developing collections for campus research, but also making Michigan’s history available to a national audience through our state collaborations with the Michigan Service Hub and the Digital Public Library of America,” Gallagher said.

View the University Libraries’ digital collections online.


I went to a car museum in Flint Michigan. I was there to check out the Perry Archives that has a ton of genealogy records. When I got there I found a wonderful collection of rare cars including the oldest running General Motors car from 1913. Only 3 owners. What a bonus.


Doesn’t Ford also have a collection in Dearborn, MI?


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