Date of Defense

Spring 4-28-2011

Department

History

First Advisor

Cheryl Lyon-Jenness, History

Second Advisor

Lynn Houghton, Archives & Regional History Collection

Third Advisor

Paula Metzner, Kalamazoo Valley Museum

Abstract

Only a limited amount has been written about the impact of the Great Depression on museums and the help they received from New Deal programs. As with many other institutions during this time period, due to the economic difficulties museums faced budget cuts and reductions in staff. The Kalamazoo Museum in Kalamazoo, Michigan, faced many of the same difficulties that museums across the nation felt. Despite these problems it was able to keep open and even improve and grow through the staff’s ability to deal with the changing conditions, community assistance given to the Museum, and the help provided by workers from the Civil Works Administration, the Works Progress Administration, and the National Youth Administration. This study uses primary source material including monthly and yearly reports from the Kalamazoo Museum and the Kalamazoo Public Library to understand how the Kalamazoo Museum made it through the Great Depression. The time frame extends from when the Kalamazoo Museum became a separate department in the Kalamazoo Public Library in 1927 until the end of New Deal assistance to the Museum in 1942. During these years a combination of community support and the staff’s ability to innovatively budget allowed the Museum to continue operating on heavily reduced funding. The New Deal agencies in turn allowed the Museum to reach a heightened level of professionalism and expand their outreach in the community.

Comments

Only a limited amount has been written about the impact of the Great Depression on museums and the help they received from New Deal programs. As with many other institutions during this time period, due to the economic difficulties museums faced budget cuts and reductions in staff. The Kalamazoo Museum in Kalamazoo, Michigan, faced many of the same difficulties that museums across the nation felt. Despite these problems it was able to keep open and even improve and grow through the staff’s ability to deal with the changing conditions, community assistance given to the Museum, and the help provided by workers from the Civil Works Administration, the Works Progress Administration, and the National Youth Administration. This study uses primary source material including monthly and yearly reports from the Kalamazoo Museum and the Kalamazoo Public Library to understand how the Kalamazoo Museum made it through the Great Depression. The time frame extends from when the Kalamazoo Museum became a separate department in the Kalamazoo Public Library in 1927 until the end of New Deal assistance to the Museum in 1942. During these years a combination of community support and the staff’s ability to innovatively budget allowed the Museum to continue operating on heavily reduced funding. The New Deal agencies in turn allowed the Museum to reach a heightened level of professionalism and expand their outreach in the community.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Campus Only

Share

COinS