BRATTLEBORO — October is American Archives Month, a time to remember that records of historical significance should be preserved, cataloged, cared for, and made accessible to the public.
The Estey Organ Museum is celebrating the occasion with a small, two-week exhibit of some of the Estey Company's pipe organ records.
What are archives? The Society of American Archivists says the term refers to “the permanently valuable records-such as letters, reports, accounts, minute books, draft and final manuscripts, and photographs - of people, businesses, and government. These records ... are the facts we use to interpret and understand history.”
The Estey pipe organ archives are evidence of more than 50 years of skilled workmanship and diligent business activities of hundreds of men and women living in the Brattleboro area.
Unlike the half million reed organs made in Brattleboro and shipped out to dealers as-is, the Estey company's 3,000-plus pipe organs were custom-made for unique individual sites - churches, clubs, residences, and even a yacht.
Most of the correspondence and many of the drawings and specifications related to these pipe organs are currently in storage at the Estey complex. They were recently examined by a professional archivist who spent three days helping to clean and organize some of the documents.
On display Oct. 5-6 and 12-13 will be some of the records of pipe organ Opus #1444, built in 1916 for the First Church of Christ Scientist in San Antonio, Texas, at a price of $4,300. The blueprints, wood sample, telegrams, and correspondence are appropriately displayed in a pipe tray, used to store and transport wooden and metal pipes from the factory to the sites.
Visit the museum at 108 Birge Street to learn more and to see and play an Estey pipe organ in the place where it was built. The museum is open Saturday and Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. and closes for the season Oct. 14.