The tiny town of Lewes, Delaware, is a mighty hub for our nation’s history. Founded in 1631, it’s the first town in the first state of the United States, which practically makes it the birthplace of our nation – forget Philadelphia!
That’s why, when historiclewes.org needed help in organizing their extensive collection of artifacts, they didn’t entrust just anyone who could point and click. They came to us.
It’s a project we’re quite proud of because of that, as well as because of the capabilities we knew we had on hand to help the Lewes Historical Society painstakingly preserve history on a site that would serve as the access point to their collections and databases spanning hundreds of years to students, researchers or anyone with a hint of curiosity for history. Most of us grew up around here, too, so it was a project that hit close to home.
But this wasn’t a quick, easy turnaround; this project required a huge time investment. Since 1962, the Society has collected objects, archives, photographic images and library materials that document life in Lewes and on the Lower Delaware Bay. From works of art, furnishings, papers and photographs, to small wooden crafts, books and everything in between. Their oldest piece dates from c. 1580, but memories continue to be catalogued from just the other day.
Inclind’s starting point was the Society’s existing site that was a bit clunky, cumbersome and, well, dated. It was in need of a good dusting for an easier historical collection search experience. We integrated Drupal 8 and the PastPerfect software, the leader in collection and contact management software that’s used by more than 10,000 museums worldwide. The software sorts search categories into: photos, archives, graves, artifacts, buildings and library; tens of thousands of items could then be further filtered by year. Once the item is selected, Google Maps locates where the item once took place or once existed in the area today. This map function is mobile-friendly, now allowing visitors to take their own self-guided walking tour, door to door to quaint buildings in town or cemeteries in the historic district, for instance. In addition to the massive collection, we also helped to add funds to the Society’s E-Commerce, selling museum tickets, event tickets, posters and more fundraising items online; and we improved the overall organization of the calendar feature on historiclewes.org for a more streamlined search and convenient connection or notification onto your personal calendar.
“This is a great example of Drupal 8 providing more robust organization overall,” says Inclind president Shaun Tyndall.
And it’s another great example of how Inclind’s relationships with clients are ongoing. Just as history is made every day, we must continue to maintain the Society’s collection, as artifact donations pour in from the community. Guess you could say we’re keeping the people and places of Lewes’ history relevant.