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History of Champlain quadricentennial to be made accessible

Archiving of records near completion

Celine R. Paquette, director of the Samuel de Champlain History Center in the village of Champlain, stands in the center’s vault, where records from the 2009 Champlain Quadricentennial are being stored. Archiving of the records is nearing completion.

Celine R. Paquette, director of the Samuel de Champlain History Center in the village of Champlain, stands in the center’s vault, where records from the 2009 Champlain Quadricentennial are being stored. Archiving of the records is nearing completion. Photo by Jeremiah S. Papineau.

— Celine R. Paquette has put her self-proclaimed “packrat” skills to good use, making sure as much information as possible about the 2009 Champlain Quadricentennial will be preserved for future generations.

“I’ve saved e-mails, cut out newspaper articles — everything,” she said.

“I’m a packrat,” she added, laughing.

Paquette, director of the Samuel de Champlain History Center in the village of Champlain, served as vice-chairperson of the Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Quadricentennial Commission, which was charged, in part, with the task of planning the 400th anniversary of Samuel de Champlain’s exploration of the region known today as the Champlain Valley. During the year-long commemoration, dozens of events were held, which Paquette worked painstakingly to document and save documentation of, she said. Then, it was just a matter of organizing all of it for easy reference.

“When we looked back at the celebrations in 1909 and 1959, there wasn’t much to work with,” said Paquette, adding few souvenirs, photographs, and information written about the events was available during the research of Samuel de Champlain’s role in shaping the region.

However, this time around, Paquette said local leaders did not want history — or a lack thereof — to repeat itself. Earlier this year, the town of Champlain received a $10,000 grant from the Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership to archive records of the commission’s business and memorabilia collected from the event. In May, Ellen Ryan, former community outreach director for Adirondack Architectural Heritage in Keeseville, was hired for the task.

“She’s been working to archive what we have and any material acquired from the public and she’s developing a finding aid to make it easier for people to look for information from a particular event or place during the quadricentennial,” said Paquette.

The archives, which Paquette believes will be complete by the end of the year, will be housed in the vault of the Elm Street history center and be available to “assist researchers and historians in the future better understand our values in 2009.”

As the archiving project nears completion, Paquette reminds anyone interested in contributing Quadricentennial-related materials to the history center for archiving may still do so. Those interested may contact Paquette at 298-1609.

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