Nickell's collection is important for historical preservation

Monday, February 4, 2019

Locally renowned historian Frank Nickell has been collecting documents and local artifacts for a long time.

His collection of history of a 27-county area in Southeast Missouri will be preserved in the hands of the Kellerman Foundation for Historic Preservation.

Much of Nickell’s historical collection will be on display at the Heritage Hall museum at 102 N. Main St. in Cape Girardeau. Nickell was a professor of history at Southeast Missouri State University for more than 25 years, as well as the voice behind “Almost Yesterday” on KRCU, the local NPR affiliate.

His collection eventually will be converted to the Nickell Regional Archive, according to a recent story by Marybeth Niederkorn.

“He’s a treasure,” Mary Ann Kellerman said of Nickell, who has worked full-time at Heritage Hall since 2017. “We’re so happy to have him with the foundation.”

Nickell said he took Kellerman to a storage facility and showed her what was there: 14 four-drawer filing cabinets, all full, in two storage units.

“And that doesn’t even count what I have at home,” Nickell said, laughing.

Those file cabinets are alphabetized by subject, people, places, events, Nickell said.

But there are hundreds of categories, Kellerman said.

“We’re going to move the collection to our foundation within the next couple of months,” Kellerman said, and noted several volunteers have already been enlisted, but more would be welcome. The collection will eventually be digitized, Kellerman said.

Preserving our history is a big deal, and can’t happen without first the dedication of time and interest; and also resources that go into preserving documents and making them publicly available.

We’re glad Nickell’s historical research and collections will be preserved. He has dedicated his life to not just the collection of history, and the studying of it, but sharing it with students and the masses.

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