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Hopedale - Local Town Pages

An update on the Little Red Shop Museum, featuring archival grants and volunteer grit


The multi-faceted Inventory Project currently underway at the Little Red Shop Museum has been fueled by two major forces: two archival grants, and a very dedicated group of volunteers. From Oct. 1, 2022 through Sept. 30, 2023, this crew of volunteers logged almost 1,500 hours. The 2023 hourly rate of $39.19, set by the state of Massachusetts, is the dollar equivalent to these volunteer hours. The value of those hours is often key to the awarding of private and public grants as in-kind contributions. 

The Museum’s Inventory Project was the benefactor of the majority of those volunteer hours. Within the last year or so, with a new infusion of additional volunteers, the Museum has been able to begin the critical, but daunting, task of inventorying the many photos, artifacts, documents, and historic town publications housed at the Museum. Some items were already in the Museum’s collection, however, most items have been donated since the Museum’s reopening [in 2009]. 

Two different grant awards were made possible through the Massachusetts State Historic Records Advisory Board (MA SHRAB) and the National Historic Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). In 2022, through the SHRAB Roving Archivist Grant and SHRAB Regrant ($500 for archival supplies), the Museum was privileged to host a visit from a professional archivist, Tom Doyle. These grant programs were developed as part of MA SHRAB’s mission to provide leadership, advocacy, and guidance to help ensure the identification, preservation, and use of the Commonwealth’s historical resources, both public and private. 

Cultural heritage and historical records repositories, like the Little Red Shop Museum, which do not have a professional archivist and have limited resources, are given preference. These grant programs provide vital guidance to assist in the creation and setting of priorities, drafting policies, developing strategies, and establishing procedures and workflows for processing, preserving, and cataloging an institution’s collections. A vital first step in this process is to have a record of the institution’s collection. The Little Red Shop Museum has set, as one of its primary goals, to embark on this task of inventorying its collection, never having been done since the Little Red Shop was donated to the Town of Hopedale in 1978. The Museum’s ultimate long-term goal is to have internet access to information about, and images of, our collection available to the public through a museum software package known as Past Perfect.

Most notable at this time, is that the Museum recently arranged for the digitization of a complete set of the Town of Hopedale’s Annual Reports (1886 – 2022) by Internet Archives through the services of Digital Commonwealth. These reports are now available for viewing on Internet Archive through your browser. This project was completed “free of charge” to the Town. For easy access, visit 

Another major component of the inventory process will be done in conjunction with the digitization of the Draper Corporation’s monthly publication, Cotton Chats. The Cotton Chats was first published in 1901 and was last published in 1958. As part of the inventory process, our volunteers will prepare a metadata sheet for each Cotton Chats. Metadata is needed for the digitization services through Digital Commonwealth. We are also in the process of inventorying the Town’s Residential Listings, hoping that a complete set can be assembled for digitization as well.  Hopedale’s Annual Reports and Residential Listings and the Draper Corporation’s Cotton Chats collection can be helpful resources for those hoping to do local genealogy research on their ancestors or to learn more about the local, regional, national, and international history connected to the Draper Corporation.

Another project that is underway is an inventory of a collection of General Draper’s (1842 – 1910) personal papers dating from his years of service to the Draper Corporation, as a U.S. Representative from Massachusetts, and as Ambassador to Italy. Some may not be aware that he was not only a soldier who served in the Civil War, but also a prominent American businessman, and an industrialist.

Restored in the fall of 2007 and finally reopened in October 2009, volunteers have solely staffed the Museum. Since its reopening, a skeletal all-volunteer staff has kept a regular schedule of visiting hours for the public and has participated in many, many community events since its reopening.

Submitted by The Little Red Shop Museum.