Higdon Family Special Collection at the Hunter Library of the Western Carolina University of the North Carolina University System

Using the Special Collections Department at the Hunter Library of the Western Carolina University of the North Carolina University System is fairly straight-forward. Go to Cullowhee, NC, where WCU is the biggest business in town. Get a map from the visitor center at WCU to help you drive around the campus. Call the Hunter Library at (866) 928-5424 to see if they can arrange a place for you to park near the library. Once inside Hunter Library, go to the Information Desk and inquire for directions to the Special Collections rooms. Go up to the 2nd floor and request to see the Special Collection of Higdon Family memorabilia. The staff will bring all of the boxes out into the work/reading room, unless you have a specific desire to view specific items in specific boxes in the collection. That's about all it takes. Once you are done viewing what you came to see, the staff will repack the boxes, and replace them on the appropriate shelves.

The photos and campus map below all come from the website of Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC.

The Higdon Family Association will soon have a listing on their website of all the items in the collection so far. Currently the bulk of the collections are the 40 years of scrapbooks detailing each of the Higdon Family Association's Annual Meetings.

For those people who have devoted a lot of time to collecting Higdon Family memorabilia, there comes a time to find the 'next' custodian of the family heirlooms, photo-images, letters, and other associated family items. The best place to store family memorabilia is NOT in a box, and particularly NOT in a  basement (a possibility of flooding, mold, and/or mildew). The best place to store family items is on a display wall in a naturally dark hallway, out of direct sunlight, or in a room where there is a corner away from windows, as far as possible out of direct sunlight. Unfortunately, sometimes no one in the family is willing, or interested enough, to volunteer to be the family memorabilia custodian. At that point in time, you need a 'storage location of last resort' which for our Higdon Family is the Higdon Family Special Collection at the Hunter Library of the Western Carolina University of the North Carolina University System. 

As at most libraries, their special collections will store all types of material of interest to that library in temperature- and humidity-controlled room(s). Once donated, some of the materials donated may be displayed in the library or may be displayed in other universities and/or public places in special exhibitions which the library wishes to collaborate with. However, after donation, the special collections materials remain the property of the library.

Donating materials to the Special Collections Department at the Hunter Library of the Western Carolina University of the North Carolina University System even easier. Find a box that is as small as possible to house your donated materials (postage and/or shipping fees are based on weight and size [bulk]) leaving at least an inch of space all around the donated materials for shock-absorbing packing material (newspapers, plastic ‘peanuts,’ etc.) to be certain that the contents do not shift. The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) often suffers some minor damage to shipped boxes as they move through their delivery systems. Therefore the shock-absorbing materials are very important. Mail the box(es) with a 2- day Priority status, which automatically provides USPS tracking. Tracking allows you to follow where the package is at every step of the delivery process, which of course allows you to pinpoint where the package was if any problems develop. Because of the priority status with its built-in special handling, major damage problems at the USPS are extremely rare, and I’ve never had a priority package late or lost.

It’s a good idea to call the Hunter Library at (866) 928-5424, to notify the Special Collections Department to expect a package(s) from you in the near future (best to call on the day you drop off the packages{s} at USPS). It’s also a good idea to write a note enclosed in one of the package(s) to describe what you have sent the Special Collections Department (a kind of packing slip) and why you have sent the materials to the Higdon Family Special Collection at Hunter Library. This enclosed note, for example, might say: Included: A U.S. Government Draft Registration Card for my grandfather, James Higdon, who fought in Vietnam, OR a photo collection of my father Sam Green at his 90th birthday party; his wife is Susan Higdon, as well as your name and contact information. Wait about 2 days after USPS tracking indicates the package(s) was delivered to the University of Western Carolina, to allow the package(s) to be delivered internally from the University Mail Department to the Special Collections Department, then call the Special Collections Department a second time to verify that they have actually received the materials you sent to them.

The University of Western Carolina is a beautiful, approximately 15,000-student school in a long, narrow valley in the southern Appalachian Mountains, not far from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.The Hunter Library Library is at center-west of the campus.  Driving there is a wonderful experience, all by itself.

So the Higdon Family Special Collection at the Hunter Library of the Western Carolina University of the North Carolina University System is relatively easy to get to, and relative easy to donate Higdon Family memorabilia to if you need a 'storage location of last resort.’ If you have any questions, issues, or concerns about the Higdon Family Special Collection at the Hunter Library of the Western Carolina University of the North Carolina University System, contact frank@black-sweater-art.com


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