Virgil Talbot’s mission to “Preserve a Bit of History” has been the constant theme and mission of the Talbot Library and Museum (TL&M) since its inception. If we break down the meaning of the individual words in the “name” of the organization we find a very broad and complete understanding of “preserving history”.
“Talbot” – obviously, this is the surname of its found, Virgil Talbot.
In his own words…”I am proud of the name and perhaps more so than most because I came into this world without right or title to a family name and for sixty years I never knew the identity of my natural father. Mine was no joyous moment of birth—there was no proud father waiting, nor caring mother. But there was someone willing to take me into their arms and into their heart and call me their own. That person was James A. Talbot, better known as Jim. He gave me the Talbot name and I have proudly borne it ever since….The name Talbot is up there on that building, not as a tribute to me but to a man who was born on Cowskin Prairie near Grove, OK of ancestry reaching back to the Norman Coast of France, and beyond that to the Norsemen from the far north; whose people came over the long Trail of Tears and settled in this country some 150 years ago; a man who loved history and passed that love on to me; who loved to read and gave me that love.”
“Library” – a collection of manuscripts, publications, and other material for reading, viewing, listening, study or reference.”
There is no doubt this “library” has one of the most impressive collections of written history and genealogical materials in the entire country. People from across the fruited plain request information and use the research materials contained in these humble walls in order to piece together a small part of their own family history and culture. Is this what Virgil intended when he established the TL&M twenty-five years ago?
“Museum” – a building or place where objects of permanent value are kept and displayed.
Piecing together history is often accompanied with obtaining, retaining, and learning the purpose of artifacts that have fallen out of use in today’s society. For example, what was it like to make your own butter in a Daisy butter churn using your own cream from your cow? Learning specifics about these artifacts give us just a small picture of what life may have been like for those in long gone generations. Is this what Virgil intended when he established the TL&M twenty-five years ago?
We are sure Virgil intended for future generations to research and gain knowledge using the available publications in the library as well as to see, touch, and understand about the artifacts of the past. But, did he also hope for something more? Probably.
Perhaps he wanted people to desire an understanding of history and heritage. Virgil understood that heritage comes or belongs to one by reasons of birth or an inherited share or portion. Our personal and collective stories tend to be handed to us as part of our birth right, or in Virgil’s case, his adoption. These narratives, comprised of how one’s ancestors fit into heroic stories of perseverance and bravery, are told at the knee of a relative or as part of a community heritage group. Our narratives cut to the core of our identity---of who we are. We hold our identities close and our emotional integrity is wrapped up in our identity.
So after twenty-five years, the Talbot Library and Museum still hopes to continue to entice all of us to learn more of our genealogy, history and heritage so we can fully understand where we came from and who we are in hope we can make our lives and the future count for good.
In accordance with Virgil’s words, “I pledge to you that I will do all within my ability to assure that the Talbot Library and Museum will be here for generations to come.”
We hope to continue what Virgil began a quarter of a century ago.
Originally published in TL&M Genealogy Magazine Volume XXIII, Number Two, 2015
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