The Hilda Hoffmann Memorial Archive

Dedicated to preserving a lifetime of genealogical research.

Newsletter – December 2012

Dear Members,

It has been a great year for the Hilda Hoffmann Memorial Archive. In mid January we were able to fulfill Hilda’s dream of having her collection open to the public in the city where she grew up and loved. We have had close to 300 visitors since opening, and expect a lot more in the coming year.

On entering 301 Williams Ave, guests are guided through a maze of pictures on free standing boards in the center of the room, over 150 in all, surrounded by four display cases filled with hundreds of artifacts from our past. As one passes through what was the living room and kitchen, four shelves of research journals, and an 8’ x 6’ shelf of cemetery books come into view.

Passing through the hall door, another museum display can be seen in the bathroom. To the left is the Hilda room where 138 boxes of family history files are located, the coup-de-gras of Hilda’s collection. There are also boxes of Obits, births, and marriage. If your family is from the region, chances are you are part of the files.

On leaving the building, to the left, are new shelves filled with local and family history books. We have an office in the middle room and outside in the hall a copy center.

Open, Monday – Friday, from 10am – 3pm, there are ten wonderful volunteers to greet our guests.  Between visitors we are organizing unfiled material such as birth and death notices, Censuses, marriage files and material that Hilda couldn’t file in her last years.  We are also scanning pictures and photographing surname files to assure their preservation.

On December 1st we completed an extensive election process, choosing 11 board members and approving a revised set of by-laws. We took great pains to make sure that each member had a chance to vote. Our Nominating and Election committees did a great job in assuring a secure and free process. Results are presented below by our Committee Chairman, Marilyn Weston.

On January 5th, the new board will meet to choose officers, and later in January, we will hold our yearly meeting to inform the membership of our physical and fiscal progress. I will remain on the Board but will be stepping down as Chairman, allowing others to lead us into 2013. The cause is great, preserving and making available to the public, the largest collection of local family histories in Mississippi. I only ask that you continue your support and ask that you encourage others to do so. We wish to thank all members for voting and congratulate the 2013 board members. We need membership fees to pay our bills and hope each of you will help us expand our archive by sharing your family research with us. Here’s wishing that each of you and your family has a Blessed Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.  

                                                                               Sincerely, Don Wicks,  12/12/12
                                                                              2012 Chairman
                                                                              Hilda Hoffmann Memorial Archive Inc

PS: HHMA has several old and very slow computers. If any of you are upgrading, or have a relatively new computer console (we have monitors, keyboards and mice), please consider us for a donation. We will be glad to pay shipping costs.

A total of 48 votes were cast for the following eleven Board Members:


Helen Clunie                                                Elizabeth Dunphey                                                Lorraine Harper

Gloria Penton                                              Carol Phares                                                            Sue Pinero

Sara Shelton                                                Judy Burge Smith                                                   Carolyn Terry

Marilyn Weston                                          Don Wicks

 By-Laws  was passed 42 – 01


 We wish to thank all 15 Candidates for participating.


Marilyn Weston, Nominating Committee Chairman

Newsletter – July 2012

Dear members, our next meeting will be held on July 12th, 7pm at the Archive, 301 Williams Ave. Picayune. Charles Gray, Executive Director of the Hancock County Historical Society will be the speaker. Our business meeting will follow Charles’ presentation.

Our membership is now at 152, but we need to reach 200 by the end of 2012 to have enough to pay our bills. 

Ann Anderson gathered a group to clean the research journals and they are now on the shelves.  

Due to our expanding need for shelves, Helen Clunie agreed to hire a contractor to build shelves in where the office is now. The office will be moved to the smaller middle room. The museum will remain in the front room, so when you walk in, the library will be visible through the window that was cut out of the wall separating the two.  Ann donated $300 to help pay for the expenses for the library.  

We have been having a steady stream of visitors, maybe 10-12 a week and it seems to be picking up a little with more interest in family history.

Our organizational meeting is tentatively set for November where the membership will legitimize us by voting to approve the by-laws and electing a new board. I’m hoping we can increase the board from 8 to 11. A set of by-laws will be sent to you along with the nominees and their bio so those who can’t attend the meeting can comment and vote by mail, e-mail or by proxy.

Anne has agreed to set up a Genealogy Round Table in September. Will let you know more when the time gets closer. After taking a month to scan the Civil War Pension applications we developed a method to photograph unique items (Hilda’s 134 boxes of family histories plus new items we get in). We have a stand with a 14.2 Megapixel digital camera that can be adjusted to fit the item scanned. This will go a lot faster and should have the same quality as the scanner. We’re digitizing those files to preserve them and will still have the original files for visitors to go through. The fragile items will be kept safe and copied for visitor use.

Clara Howard has been going through the history files (not associated with family histories) to organize and file them in the five file cabinets. Unidentified pictures, calendars, newspapers, short histories, and incoming family histories. Family histories that are bound will be put on the shelves in the new library.

We still haven’t gotten Indian or Civil War artifacts for the museum, so if any of you know how we might acquire them please let me know. They are a vital part of our heritage and will add greatly to what we have. We’re also looking for other small artifacts from Pearl River County. Our initial intent was to represent a timeline of our history but people seem reluctant to give up those treasurers. We always need copies of pictures of people, events and buildings to post on our picture boards and walls.

Picayune Main Street donated a black and white network printer that will print for less than a penny a page. Helen acquired a donation of a similar color printer, but it needs some work before we can use it.

We’ve paid half of the insurance bill and contracted for monthly payments for the remainder leaving a balance of around $900. Our bills range around $300 a month.

All of us have been working hard but still could use 100 more volunteers. We’ve come a long way but still have miles to go. Keep us in your prayers and I hope you’ve had a happy 4th. Hilda passed away on July 4th, 2010 and we need to keep her in our prayers also.  

Don Wicks, Chairman

Newsletter – April 2012

Dear Members                                                                                                                                   4/30/2012

Apologize for not sending a March Newsletter, but we’ve been very busy. We’re still sorting through the dozen unfiled boxes and placing the appropriate material in the genealogy files. The Volunteers have been great, but we still have a ways to go in completing this before we start scanning the genealogy files for preservation.

We did receive (on loan) of a box of early 1900 CSA Pension applications from the Chancery Court in Poplarville, thanks to the diligence of Judy Burge Smith. It took us a month to scan the 1500 pages and they are now on three CD’s. We’ve given a copy to the Gainesville Volunteers and plan to give a copy to the Picayune and Poplarville libraries and the Hancock County Historical Society.

The Genealogy class never materialized. The newspaper add got in late and I guess there was just not a lot of interest or awareness.

The same with visitors. We average about a dozen a week. We have to do better and plan to begin inviting school classes. This plan is now in the works with providing basic family trees to the grammar schools and hope to get it going after SAT tests are finished. Sue Pinero is heading this project.

Our board decided to postpone our Grand Opening and Formal Organizational meeting to the fall.

Our Museum just received a donation of Grandpa Thigpen’s 8’ display case from Bill Edwards (Glass Porch). It dates 1918, and was in his hardware store when it opened. We plan to fill it with Confederate and Black history displays.

Helen Clunie is still providing financial support. Her contractors have just finished with more renovations and a 9’ set of shelves so we can properly display the Cemetery books, local history books and reference material. She also plans to donate her collection of local history books and material. She also worked hard in getting us exempt from property taxes.

I submitted our application for the Richard H. Driehaus National Preservation Award. As mentioned the award focuses on buildings and we’re hoping they will start considering archival material. The City, Chamber and Main Street all submitted letters of recommendation.

I’ve attached a picture of the New City Hall building which is across the street and should be finished in January 2013. Traffic in the area should greatly benefit us with more visitors. As mentioned we set up a display at the Welcome Center for the month of February and also set one up for the Egg Drop (2000 parents and kids in attendance) and at the April Street Fair. We also had an open house at the Archive and Museum.

Anne Anderson, a Professional Genealogist from the Coast visited us and was amazed, not only at archival material from Hilda, but the genealogical reference books and suggested that we need to display the reference material. She stated we have the best library of reference in the state. In the fall we hope to hold a Genealogy Symposium and invite Genealogist from around the state, region and country. This will greatly add to our status as an archive and research center.

Marsha Ladner received a donation of cleaning supplies and masks from Andrew Failla (Picayune Drugs) to remove the mold and mildew from the reference material before we place them on the shelves. Also, when I was at the Archive Saturday to work on shelving, I was surprised at the arrival of Ed and Sue Pinero brandishing some flats of pretty pink flowers for the flower bed. They planted these and raked up the front yard. It’s volunteers like these that will assure our success.

Sara Sheldon, our curator and original recipient of Hilda’s Collection visited us from San Antonio for a week during the Street Fair and helped greatly at the Street Fair and sorting through the dozen boxes of unfiled material. We all wish she could have stayed longer.

Our membership has grown to 143, which puts us just 57 short of our goal for 2012. Our bank balance is around $2000, but we have an $1100 insurance bill coming up in June, and monthly bills to pay.

Our daily volunteers have been great. Gloria Penton and Marilyn Weston on Monday, Loraine Harper on Tuesday, Me and Mae Foster on Wednesday, Marsha Ladner and Sue Pinero on Thursday and Clara Howard on Friday. If you know of anyone who would like to volunteer, let us know. I would especially like someone for Saturday.

We also need membership, so talk to your family and friends, especially those interested in history and genealogy about joining. We’ve had great progress so far, but have a mountain ahead of us, and our success depends on you and our volunteers. If you would like to place something in our monthly newsletter, please send it to me.              

Don Wicks, Chairman

Newsletter – February 2012

Dear Members,

Since our opening on January 16th, we have had over 70 visitors. These include those from the groundbreaking for the new City Hall, which will be constructed across the street, where we invited attendees for drinks and snacks.

The volunteers are doing a great job organizing the genealogy files and going through and filing half dozen boxes of miscellaneous unfiled material. When we finish inserting the unfiled material we will be able to begin indexing and digitizing the genealogy files.

I’ve attached pictures to give you an idea on how we’re set up. We still have a lot of renovations to do. I’m building shelves in our storage room to store less significant items such as genealogical journals, telephone books and items not associated with the Pearl River County area.

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New Benefit For Members

From our webmaster, Mac McDonald:

As a benefit of membership, I am offering to help any member set up a web site for their family genealogy.  There are only a few conditions to this offer:

  • The person must be a Member of the Hilda Hoffmann Memorial Archive, Inc., with dues paid for the year in which any assistance is required.
  • The web site must be for the Member's family only.  The site must be non-commercial with no advertising or associate marketing links.
  • The Member is responsible for any direct expenses in creating or maintaining the site.  More detail on possible expenses is provided below.
  • The Member is responsible for all content posted on the site.

I will provide assistance with selecting a hosting service, selecting a 'theme' or appearance for the site, installing the software, and instructing the Member in the basic operations needed to maintain the site.  Once a site is operational, I expect the Member to add and update the content of the site, but I will continue to provide occasional assistance.


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Newsletter- December 2, 2011

Dear Members,                                                                                                                                                                               12/2/2011

Let’s all wish each other a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year, for ourselves, the Archive, and our members. We are moving along with renovations at Williams as well as collecting display cabinets and artifacts for the museum. If you have any artifacts depicting the county and the “olden times” please consider donating or lending them to the museum. Each item will be identified with the lender/donor’s name. We are planning to open to the public starting in January. Tentative times will be from 10am-3pm and days will depend on volunteers. If you can spare one day a week please let us know (if you have to miss an occasional day, we will have alternates).


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Newsletter – October 4, 2011

Hilda Hoffmann Memorial Archive Inc.                                                                                 10/4/22011

Dear Member, You are now the proud owner of a piece of the building at 301 Williams Ave.  On September 23rd the title transfer was filed in the Chancery Court of Pearl River County from Helen Clunie to the Archive.  Helen has not only given us wonderful financial support but she and Bob have dedicated much of their time driving from Hattiesburg to Picayune to help preserve Hilda’s collection and in making the building ready  for visitors. We owe her a large debt of gratitude for all that she’s done.

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Organizational Meeting

Subject: Organizational meeting, Hilda Hoffmann Memorial Archive, Pearl River County Collection.

On or about October 29, 2010, a meeting was called to discuss formation of a non-profit organization with the subject title. Present were, Sara Sheldon, Helen Clunie, Don Wicks, Bill Sheldon and Bob Clunie. The following decisions were made:

  1. By-laws were discussed and affirmed and officers chosen: Sara Sheldon, Chairman, Helen Clunie, Treasurer, and Don Wicks, Secretary.
  2. Don Wicks was to file for non-profit status with the State of Mississippi.
  3. A Bank Account was to be opened at First National Bank with the subject title.

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