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Restoring Our Story; Thronateeska’s Newest Addition Reveals Our Past

By   /   August 27, 2009  /   Comments

Thronateeska Heritage Center has a new addition. It’s not a new display or artifact, it’s a person — Cathy Flohre — and she is embarking on a complex and detailed exploration into Albany’s past.

Flohre recently joined the Thronateeska staff as archivist collections manager, and she is already busy at work, classifying and organizing the wide array of journals, documents, books, photographs, and artifacts that have been warehoused and waiting to share their story.

For the last 35 years, the local history museum has taken in donations of all kinds from individuals, groups, and businesses that tell how our city came to be, and how it developed over the centuries. One of the region’s most interesting and educational facilities of its kind, Thronateeska is comprised of the History Museum, Science Center, and the Wetherbee Planetarium. The three unique offerings are located in the old railroad depot on Roosevelt Street in downtown Albany.

The upgrade and move of the Planetarium from its previous building into its new, state-of-the-art facility last year cleared the way for this project. Thronateeska’s Executive Director, Tommy Gregors says the space that once housed the old Planetarium will be converted into a historical records facility that will be available to educators and researchers, interested in learning about Albany and the surrounding area.

“Having enough space for all the items has always been a challenge,” Gregors said. “The addition of Cathy to our staff gives us someone totally devoted to the process of sorting through everything.”

Flohre comes to Albany from Dayton, Ohio, where she worked the last 28 years for Lexus Nexus as an analyst and project manager. Part of her new job with Thronateeska will be to get written records converted into data files.

“We want to make it as easy as possible for people to locate the records we have,” said Flohre. Having been on the job for just a few weeks, Flohre says she is up to the challenge and finds the process to be very exciting.

There will be some documents and artifacts that may not fit well in the overall presentation of Albany’s history. Sorting through those items and determining what to do with them will also be a part of the process. Gregors says that some things may very well be of more value to museums in other parts of the state. Likewise, other museums may have things that we would want, and there could be the opportunity to exchange items.

Such things as old display cases and magazines that folks donated instead of trashing may be sold or auctioned online. It will certainly be an interesting journey. This new project comes along just in time for Georgia Archives Month this October. The Society of Georgia Archivists, the group behind the month-long awareness campaign, represents nearly 200 individuals and repositories that care for historical records around the state. Through their efforts, like those underway at Thronateeska Heritage Center, the past is preserved for the future.

In no time at all, the Ohio native may know more about Albany and its history than most natives. But when she’s done, it will be easier to play catch up.

Written by Lon McNeil.  Mr. McNeil is an Albany independent marketing consultant.  Find him online at AlbanyOnPoint.

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