Bridgewater College, Camera Heritage Museum finalists in statewide artifact competition

Bridgewater College’s World War II Service Board.
Bridgewater College’s World War II Service Board.(WHSV)
Published: Jan. 23, 2022 at 7:29 PM EST
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BRIDGEWATER, Va. (WHSV) - Bridgewater College’s World War II Service Board is a finalist in a statewide endangered artifacts competition hosted by the Virginia Association of Museums.

The board is a wooden shield completed in 1945 that features the names of 400 Bridgewater College students who served in the war. Paper stars highlight the names of those who died in the war.

“The board is a tangible demonstration of the pride that these individuals felt in their service and that the college felt toward these individuals, it’s estimated that 44 percent of the people whose names appear on the board were residents of Rockingham County and Harrisonburg,” said Stephanie Gardner, special collections librarian for Bridgewater College.

If the school wins the competition it will receive $2,000 to go towards conservation of the board. The school would use the funds to make repairs to the board that has cracked and lost name plates over the decades.

“Treatment to stabilize the board would be very good, I would really like to see full conservation and that would include finding the names that were missing from the board, doing that research and adding those names back to the board,” said Gardner.

“I’d also like to have a supplemental board made that would include the names of Bridgewater College World War II veterans who are not listed on the board.”

The Camera Heritage Museum in Staunton is also a finalist in the competition, its artifact is the oldest known photograph of Natural Bridge, featuring the family cabin of Thomas Jefferson.

“We have the glass plate, the 10 by 12 glass plate, the original negative, it’s pre-1884, because the house burnt in 1884 from lightning,” said David Schwartz, the museum’s curator.

If the museum wins it will use the money to build a case for the glass plate so that it can be put on display safely in the museum.

“It would be fantastic so the public can see it, because we have to keep the glass plate up and nobody gets to see it, and that’s not what we want to do,” said Schwartz.

Schwartz adds that the camera museum currently only has enough room to show 20 percent or so of its collection and is looking for a new building to expand.

There are eight other artifacts from across the state featured in the competition, the one that receives the most votes online as the top artifact will receive the $2,000 prize.

The competition ends on Thursday January 27th, you can vote for your favorite artifact here.

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