Read All About It: The Vermilion Parish Library
~ Jeffrey Kiley - Advantage Archives
The Vermilion Parish Library provides access to the rich history of cities and communities of Vermilion Parish and the surrounding areas through the local newspapers spanning 108 years, as well as yearbooks, assessment rolls and census records that date as far back as 1810!
The Vermilion Parish Library is located in Abbeville, LA serving a community of Approximately 61,000. Abbeville is located in Southern part of LA in Vermilion Parish. Vermilion Parish Library serves a main library, five (5) branches and a bookmobile. Advantage Archives is proud to partner with the Vermilion Parish Library in their efforts to provide their community with a way to connect its history with two Community History Archives.
Our Community History Archive is a valuable asset for anyone, because it is readily available to anyone with or without a library card. We are very pleased with the services offered by Advantage Archives. It has helped us to offer a valuable resource and service to our community ~Charlotte Trosclair, Director of the Vermilion Parish Library System
The CHA provides access to the rich history of cities and communities of Vermilion Parish and the surrounding areas thanks to the Vermilion Parish Library. The online archive includes the Abbeville Meridional, Gueydan Journal and Kaplan Herald newspapers dating back to 1910. The online archive also includes census records from 1810-1950; assessment rolls from 1865-1956 and papers from the Abbeville Progress from 1913-1944.
Charlotte Trosclair was appointed director of the Vermilion Parish Library System in 2008. Trosclair became a director in 2000. Parish Library is meeting or exceeding the mission of the Library. Charlotte Trosclair recently took the time to tell us a little bit about the the Parish Library and their archive.
“Many of the microfilm [reels] we have were becoming brittle and breaking so we were looking for a way to protect this history and decided to try digitizing.”
She discovered Advantage online when looking for solutions on how to address the issue with the library’s microfilm collection, and researching the possibility of scanning it.
“I was surfing online one day because we were having difficulty finding someone to do our microfilm and I found Advantage Preservation; called them and have been very happy with my selection.” Ms. Trosclair says. “We started with the older film first and gradually continued until we are currently up to date.”
She is extremely proud of the people of Vermilion Parish, and how dedicated they are to the library and to preserving the history of this wonderful community. Community support of the Vermilion Parish Library is thriving at this time. They were extremely supportive of the library’s initiative, and helped bring this project to life.
“We contacted community organizations for funding and was very fortunate to have the support of the Vermilion Parish Library Foundation, Vermilion Parish Historical Society, Vermilion Parish Library Board of Control and Mr. Gary Theall”
She feels most people search their family history when visiting their archives.
“Genealogy, people looking for obituaries and general research”, she even did a little looking into her own family.
“I am not from this community but my grandparents were. So I decided to type my name into the search and I found my birth announcement.”
She was also gracious enough to share with us the history of her community.
On St. Valentine’s Day in February of 1942, the citizens of Vermilion Parish passed a one-mill tax to make the Vermilion Parish Library a permanent institution. This wasn’t the first try at organizing a public library in Vermilion Parish
Thirty-five years before that, Mrs. W.B. White had started the Abbeville Public Library in 1907 sponsored by the Women’s Club. This Library thrived until 1911 when it closed for lack of funds.
In November of 1915, the Women’s Club sent delegates to the Women’s Clubs convention in Monroe where Miss Lutie Stearns of the Wisconsin Library Commission offered her services to help any community with a library problem. Miss Stearns was invited to come to Abbeville early in 1915 and spoke to a large, enthusiastic audience. With this larger goal in mind the Library Board reopened the library in March, 1916.
Meanwhile the Gueydan and Kaplan town libraries had been established and their citizens were library minded and as ready to join any parish-wide movement as those of Abbeville. The demonstration library with headquarters at the Town Hall was opened on March 4, 1931. At the end of the year’s demonstration, Vermilion Parish was in the depths of the 1932 depression so the Police Jury was unwilling to call a tax election with no hope of passing the tax.
When Miss Culver, Executive Secretary of the Louisiana Library Commission spoke at the open meeting of the Woman’s Club in September of 1930, she told of the possibility of a demonstration library in Vermilion Parish and a meeting of representative people of the parish was arranged for the next day.
The demonstration continued for 18 months on the original appropriation but closed in September, 1932 because of lack of funds. From 1933-1938 the library was supported by funds from the Town Council, but had to close in 1938 for lack of quarters.
In October 1938, J.H. Williams, President of the Abbeville Public Library Association and J.E. Kibbe, Mayor, appeared before the Women’s Club to tell them of the possibility of a second demonstration.
The club voted to sponsor the movement but no further action would be taken until August, 1940. Centrally located quarters were secured in the Masonic Temple for parish headquarters. When after a year of efficient service the tax came up for passage on February 14, 1942, the parish was thriving and a five year tax was passed.
When asked if she had any advice for other institutions that value their community’s history as much a the Abbeville community, Ms, Trosclair offers this:
I strongly suggest digitizing their newspapers, local history and yearbooks and anything else of importance to their community. ~Charlotte Trosclair
The Vermilion Parish Library fully recognizes that the history recorded in the pages of the Abbeville newspapers and other printed materials are invaluable. These pages, when stitched together, tell the story of the people, places, and events that shaped Vermilion Parish. The Community History Archive offers the community a “portal to the past”, allowing those primary source documents to give an accounting of history as told by the individuals that witnessed it.
At Advantage, we have embraced the idea that preserving history is a shared responsibility. We partner with local community publishers, libraries, and other like-minded individuals to make local content more accessible, now and in the future.
It has been a privilege to work with the Vermillion Parish Library to create this archive for the community. They will no be able to experience “history as it happened” as it was recorded in the pages written by those who witnessed Vermilion Parish’s past first hand. This is a meaningful partnership, and one I am proud of. ~Larry Eckhardt, Advantage
We engage in this partnership enthusiastically, and couldn’t be more pleased to host these archives free of charge to the library as our role in this partnership. The library has funded the entire digitization portion, and continue to add to their Community History Archive year after year
The Community History Archives are user friendly, and easy to learn. We focused on making it as simple as possible, so that everyone…from students to grandparents (and everyone in between) can browse, search, view, clip and share articles, headlines, pages, and stories recorded in the pages of the community newspaper. Just type a search and hit “enter” or browse to a specific year, month, day or page in any (or all) publications contained in the archive.
Advantage partners with communities just like the Vermilion Parish across the United States, to archive & provide practical digital access to local historical content in print, that would otherwise be lost to the erosion of time. If you would like to see more local history online, please contact your local library, newspaper publisher, genealogical society, historical society, or educational institution, and encourage them to learn more about creating a Community History Archive, or have them contact us at (855) 303-2727.