Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Devonport Museum

 On our trip to Devonport a couple weeks ago we met a very nice couple while walking through Mt. Cambia Reserve.  Keith and Libby were just coming back from working on a project at the local museum where they both volunteer.  When we explained we were Family History missionaries, they told us we really must come to the museum on a Wednesday to meet with Boyd Miller.  Boyd is one of the museum volunteers who is heading up a special genealogy project to record and organize family information about early Devonport pioneers. Today we finally had an opportunity to do just that.

According to the Museum websiteThe Devonport Historical and Museum Society Inc. was formed in 1977. The building is part of an old Presbyterian Church which was moved to its current location in two parts in 1978.  At that time the site was the location of an old quarry, but in the years since it has been nicely landscaped, so you would never know that by looking at it today.

The collections at the museum are an ecclectic mix of things that have been donated by locals over the years.  Spread out over two stories and filling up several rooms, it was quite interesting to go through the various exhibits.

We particularly enjoyed meeting Boyd and hearing about the genealogy project he is heading up.

For about the past five years, the museum has been collecting various documents and letters from and about Devonport pioneer families.  Currently they have artifacts referring to about 70 different families.  This information has been reviewed and "extracted", entering relevant data of names, dates of birth, marriage and death  into the museum's Legacy family tree program. They now have information on about 19,500 individuals and are able to see how various families were related to one another.

Boyd Miller - volunteer who has organized the genealogy archives at Devonport Museum
Mr. Miller, a retired civil engineer, has put in many painstaking hours to carefully create a series of carefully indexed binders listing the information the museum has in their collection. As time and resources permit, the museum committee will create a series of displays depicting information about these early pioneer families and their relations.

On of my favorite displays in the museum was the collection of wedding photos:

As I looked into the faces of these people in wedding parties from the 1920's, I couldn't help but wonder what they lives were like - in what ways were their joys and challenges similar to my own and in what ways were they completely different?

I look forward to going back again to this museum to get a better look at some of the other collections.  They've done a nice job of helping history to come alive.

This ship model is sitting on a large butcher block made of a slice of a 600 yr old kauri tree.

This is an "arithmometer" produced in 1911.  It is an example of one of the first calculating machines that were commercialized and manufactured in large quantities for use in offices.  It could add and subtract two numbers, as well as perform long multiplications and divisions,  For forty years from 1851 - 1890 it was the only type  of mechanical calculator in commercial production and was sold worldwide.   

This panorama shows Devonport and all the surrounding area with markings on the glass cover indicating where each section of the town is and even showing the original sale price for various parcels of land.

This is just a small sample of the extensive shell collection that was was donated to 
the museum.  There is another, much larger cabinet with rows and rows of drawers filled
 with various types of shells that had been collected by a particular local woman 
who had a life long love of the sea.

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