Samantha Lawrence, a museum archivist for the Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm, scans archival materials for digitization.

Samantha Lawrence, a museum archivist for the Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm, scans archival materials for digitization.

Photo provided by the city of Rochester Hills

Rochester, Hills partner to digitize history records

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published March 9, 2021

ROCHESTER/ROCHESTER HILLS — Rochester and Rochester Hills have joined forces to preserve Rochester’s archives and historical items for years to come.

The multiyear partnership will see Rochester’s local history items digitized by the Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm.

Museum Director Pat McKay said the collaboration has been in the works for over 10 years.

“It seemed pretty ridiculous that the library, the city of Rochester and the city of Rochester Hills were all independently collecting archival material when so much of it crosses these political lines that we have drawn,” he said. “People just didn’t live and work in Rochester — of course they came into Avon Township and Rochester Hills, so we were looking for ways to share services and cost so we could ultimately provide a better service to the people who love history and make sure we were documenting it accurately.”

Rochester City Manager Blaine Wing said the city has agreed to pay for the museum to hire one archive intern to digitize Rochester’s documents and other historical items alongside museum staff.

“The museum has been preserving archival documents for decades, and they have a great willingness to share the fascinating story of our community with everyone,” Wing said in a statement. “Their efforts to work with the city’s Historical Commission, our (Downtown Development Authority) and local businesses has helped recognize the significant history in our community.”

The archives will first be uploaded to the museum’s software management system, which is available to the public on the museum’s website.

“The goal really was to make sure these items weren’t just living in a box in a dark closet,” McKay said. “The goal is to get them out there so people can see them.”

From there, the digitized items will eventually be added to the Oakland County Historical Resources website,, making local history more widely accessible to the public.

“It will probably be this summer and this fall where things will slowly start getting online,” McKay added. “Our goal is to do it as fast as we possibly can.”

Established in 1979, the Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm is a 16-acre campus of buildings owned and operated by the city of Rochester Hills. The museum is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  

Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett said the project is another great example of communities working together, this time to enhance historic preservation and storytelling.

“We welcome the city of Rochester to our museum family and look forward to working together on this exciting project,” Barnett said in a statement.

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