The National Hellenic Museum Launches Free Online Collections & Archives Portal

The National Hellenic Museum in Chicago. (Photo: Wikipedia/Public domain)

CHICAGO – Dedicated to holding significant memories of the Greek American experience and Hellenic legacy, the National Hellenic Museum (NHM) announced, on July 24 the launch of the NHM Collections & Archives Portal, which allows anyone to access the Museum’s catalogs online from anywhere by viewing digitized artifacts and archival materials.

With the largest collection of its kind in the world, including a rich repository of over 20,000 Greek-American artifacts, photos, historic newspapers, books, and an archive of over 450 recorded oral histories, the NHM serves as a resource at the center of the community’s past, present, and future.

Visitors may access the free, digital NHM Collections & Archives to view items such as hand-woven textiles from the 1800s, articles of clothing from 1900, historical photographs depicting early Greek American immigrant life, and more at https://collections.nationalhellenicmuseum.org/.

“The NHM Collections & Archives Portal showcases the ongoing work the Museum does to protect, catalog, and preserve the historical archives representing the Greek American experience. We are very excited to highlight the important work the National Hellenic Museum does gathering history for all Greek Americans and of course for Philhellenes and scholars,” said Dr. Laura Calamos. “With the launch of the digital archives, everyone will now be able to learn about our storied history and culture from anywhere in the world!”

On the Portal, the NHM Collections & Archives are organized in five sections: Artifacts, which contains a wide variety of three-dimensional items, including religious objects, furniture, textiles, paintings, and ephemera; Library, which is comprised of books in both Greek and English; Oral Histories, which contains hundreds of recorded interviews with Greek Americans (full-length interviews available onsite at the Museum only); Images, a sizeable collection of historic photographs representing Greek American life throughout the 20th century; and Archives, which contains a growing number of finding aids for the processed archival collections donated by Greek American businesses, organizations, churches, and families. The NHM Collections & Archives Portal offers users the opportunity to search for pieces of history by year, language, collection, individuation, material and organization.

“This is just the beginning for the Portal. Every day we continue to add artifacts for online viewing, and we conduct research to add more detail about each item’s place in history. Going forward, we will continue to catalogue and expand the online Portal. With such a great resource so accessible, we encourage everyone to continue to check back often and interact with the NHM Collections online. Now everyone can help build the historical record which will add rich details for preserving the memories of the community,” said Collections Manager Margaret Fraser.

An exciting feature of this digital archive encourages user generated comments for online interactions so visitors to the website have the ability to add information to item records. The NHM Collections, Exhibit and Education Teams then can use such rich community knowledge to add to the Museum holdings and provide visitors with increasingly detailed descriptions of artifacts along with a more intimate understanding of their place in history. While not all comments will appear on the website, such “community tagging” is a great way for individuals to support the Museum and the history it preserves, from anywhere in the world.

The National Hellenic Museum’s Collections & Archives Portal has been made possible thanks in part to a generous donation from the Stathis Family Limited Partnerships.

“The Stathis Family’s contributions to the NHM have been first, to provide a library, at a time when online technology was in its infant stages. Currently, we continue to support the idea of literature and historic preservation by venturing into expansion of the online presence of NHM through its Collections and Digitization Programs to ensure that we keep up with the times technically,” said Georgia Stathis, NHM Trustee and Board Member. “This Museum is not just a museum for the Greek community. Its mission is to preserve, share, and to educate people about Hellenic traditions, history, and culture. It is all-inclusive in terms of people we wish to draw. Regardless of where we go, we now have our history and culture preserved forever on the international global footprint.”

The NHM Collections & Archives represent the Greek experience in America by preserving the items and artifacts that the Greek American community has carried with them, saved, treasured, and eventually donated into the Museum’s custody. The NHM cares for every item in the Collections, providing storage, preservation when possible, and permitting appropriate access to Museum archives for researchers and educators. The NHM accepted the first artifact into its Collections in 1993 – a dowry cedar chest that is currently on display in the core exhibit, “The Greek Story in America”. Since then, the NHM Collections have grown significantly, with the bulk of the Museum’s holdings dating from 1890 – today. These artifacts, and the stories that go along with each one, are used by museum educators, docents and researchers to share learning about Greek American culture and history.

More information on the National Hellenic Museum is available online: nationalhellenicmuseum.org.