Press Release: Making a Name for the North Manchester Center for History


The North Manchester Historical Society was asked recently to participate in a pilot program run by the Indiana Historical Society designed to develop surveys that can be administered at special events.  The purpose of the surveys is to help museums be systematic and data-driven in learning how to serve their communities better.  Survey participants are asked what they want, need, and would like to have from the organizations.  To date NMHS has administered the survey at its annual Preservation Month program, at one of its monthly dinner/lecture programs, and at Funfest. 


Mary Chrastil, NMHS President, would like to thank the many people who took the time to fill out the surveys, which provided many thoughtful comments.  “The surveys were overwhelmingly positive,” says Chrastil.  “And they provided some good information about how we can reach our audiences better and how we are perceived in the community.  For example, respondents said they would like to see more family- and child-oriented exhibits.  This is something we have been wanting to do, and the survey gives us the incentive to work on this area.”


Based on NMHS’s participation in the pilot program, Chrastil was asked by Stacy Klingler of the Local History Services staff of IHS to participate in a webinar on August 22.  The on-line class was hosted by the Association of State and Local History, a national organization of history professionals.  It was “attended” by 23 individuals from all over the United States and Canada.  Mary joined Stacy, Connie Graft of Connie Graft Research and Evaluation, and Matt Schuld of the Elkhart County Museum in relating how the museums administered and adapted the survey, what questions were most and least helpful, and what surprised the users in the results. 


On September 9, Mary was part of another panel presentation at the Association of Indiana Museums convention in Indianapolis.  The presentation and questions about the survey pilot program were similar to those in the webinar.  Panelists include Klingler, Chrastil, and a representative of the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum in Crawfordsville.


One bit of information that was particularly appealing to the busy museum professionals who attended the webinar and panel was the fact that the NMHS figured out a way to analyze the data collected without being overwhelmed with the extra work.  NMHS recruited a high school volunteer to compile the survey results.  Thank you to Hanna Thomas for working on the surveys for us!


The North Manchester Historical Society has been building a solid reputation state-wide and nationally.  Besides the AASLH and AIM programs, in the past year NMHS received a nationally competitive Collections Assessment Program (CAP) Grant, a $40,000 loan from Indiana Landmarks for its Historic Homes Preservation Group, and an Indiana Humanities grant in support of the documentary movie it is making about North Manchester yesterday and today.


Contact the North Manchester Historical Society and NM Center for History at 260-982-0672 or at