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Relics of Harlem history sought

Posted: April 10, 2012 - 11:01pm
Harlem Mayor Bobby Culpepper stands in front of a vault at Harlem City Hall, a former bank, where historical items donated to the city are stored. He's asking for the donation of any items that may reflect the history of Harlem and the surrounding areas.   Photo By Valerie Rowell
Photo By Valerie Rowell
Harlem Mayor Bobby Culpepper stands in front of a vault at Harlem City Hall, a former bank, where historical items donated to the city are stored. He's asking for the donation of any items that may reflect the history of Harlem and the surrounding areas.

Harlem’s mayor is on a mission to collect artifacts reflecting the city’s history.

Since 2008, Mayor Bobby Culpepper and a group of residents have been trying to document Harlem’s history with the goal of eventually opening a history museum.

“That’s our long-term plan,” Culpepper said. “We’ve had a response from a lot of people. We just feel there’s an awful lot more out there.”

Culpepper said he believes many of the city’s older residents have historically valuable photos, documents and other items. But he’s worried that as some of those older residents pass away, their families aren’t considering donating those items to the city.

“The main thing is making sure that it is not lost,” Culpepper said. “Each time there is a death in the community, and someone had pictures that could be passed down, they are thrown away and they are gone. That’s part of our history that is lost.”

Any donated items are kept safe in a vault at Harlem City Hall. Any photographs or other items residents or families of residents don’t want to part with can be copied and returned, Culpepper said.

Culpepper said he’s interested in any item that deals with the city, defunct businesses, area schools or the surrounding communities. When in doubt, Culpepper said, save the items, “err on the side of preservation,” and call the city. Items can be taken to city hall or a city employee will pick them up.

The collection already includes numerous photos, documents and other relics.

“We have some graduation rings from Harlem High School, when it first became a high school,” Culpepper said. “We have some other trophies and things like that, memorabilia from the schools. ... Anything to do with the history of the community. We don’t want to limit it.”

Anyone with items to contribute is encouraged to visit city hall or call (706) 556-3448.

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