In 1959, volunteers began recording the irreplaceable documents, photographs and artifacts collected by the Fenton Historical Society. Every piece was issued a catalogue number, assigned a value and description. The paper records, three-hold punched and placed in black binders, are resting on the shelves of the A.J. Phillips Museum located at 310 S. Leroy Street.
Since 1979, Ken Seger and his wife Donna, current president of the Fenton Historical Society, have volunteered at the Museum. Ken has been the curator for 36 years, cataloguing every donation. Through the years 24 notebooks have been compiled, listing over 50,000 items located in the Museum.
Today volunteers are working diligently to transfer the collection's data into a new computer and specialized Museum software. A $6,500 grant from the Fenton Community Fund provided funding for the new computer, software, and data input.
"Museum items and genealogical research information will be readily accessible through a web-based database," said Connie Foley, the Museum's docent and researcher. "Visitors will be able to search the database in a number of ways, making it easier to find what they are looking for. The time to find an item in the Museum or information about an ancestor will be significantly decreased."
Foley noted that the Historical Society's effort is part of a larger plan to update and repair the Museum, and to expand visibility through additional programs for Fenton area residents. A community Ghost Walk was recently held, school groups enjoy field trips there, and a new paint job has spruced up the outside.
The Museum houses an extensive genealogy room for Fenton and surrounding areas. Its records include the name of every Fenton graduate since 1869. A collection of early Fenton newspapers dates back to the 1840s. A military display showcases pieces from the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, the World Wars and Vietnam. One of the more unique pieces is the sword that belonged to Colonel William Fenton himself, given to the City of Flint when he took command of the 8th Michigan Infantry.
The Museum is staffed by Historical Society volunteers and is open to the public on Sunday afternoons. Gifts to the Fenton Historical Society Endowment Fund, established at the Community Foundation of Greater Flint in 1998, can be made online at www.cfgf.org.