Sentimentally Significant

Minnesota Local History Blog.

Minnesota Local History Blog.

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The Minnesota Historical Society’s Local History Services helps Minnesotans preserve and share their history. This blog is a resource of best practices on the wide variety of museum, preservation, conservation, funding, and non-profit management topics. We’re here to help.

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Sentimentally Significant

By: grabitsdm | June 2, 2010
One of the more difficult elements to evaluate in history is sentimental sentiments. A fairly common observation from those working in local history is of attempted donations, be they buildings or an old item from the attic. It seems as though there is a general perception that if people are attached emotionally to something, then that adds to the evidence that the something is historic.

Historians look askance at sentimental feelings for things and want to know "What does this mean?" The answer to the question has to be an articulated argument based on facts and set firmly in context. And yet, for many people, a statement of sentimental worth is enough to make something historic.

How do you talk with potential donors about historical significance when their offer is motivated by sentimental feelings?