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Indiana Room gets new name

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REVEAL: Beka Lemons, director of Huntington Library, unveils the new name of the Indiana Room during a rededication ceremony on Saturday morning. The room honors a local historian with the new title,B. Joan Keefer Genealogy and Local History Center.
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KEEFER: Joan Keefer stands next to the newly installed doors of what used to be the Indiana Room, now renamed in the Huntington County historian’s honor.
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A HISTORY LESSON:Geri Davis, Business Manager at Huntington Library, shared a brief history lesson about how Keefer helped to establish the Indiana Room back in 1975 and outlined several milestones of Keefer’s career as County Historian.
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IN HONOR OF: The Indiana Room was renamed the B. Joan Keefer Genealogy and Local History Center on Saturday morning, after a local historian who was a crucial part of the county’s historical preservation.
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HISTORIAN:Joan Keefer (center) was honored at the rededication of the Indiana Room on Saturday morning at Huntington library. Keefer was humbled and thanked her family and the community for assisting her in her multi-generational Huntington County history preservation efforts.

by James Ehle - jehle@h-ponline.com

The Huntington Library honored one woman’s contribution to historical preservation by rededicating the Indiana Room as the B. Joan Keefer Genealogy and Local History Center.

While the rest of the library has undergone renovations over the last few years, Huntington City-Township Public Library (HCTPL) director Beka Lemons says the only changes the Indiana Room has seen is a new door.

“We gave it a new door to let people see what’s in this fantastic world, but other than that we didn’t change it because we didn’t have to,” said Lemons. “Everything that’s in there has a purpose and a story and a meaning, and it’s all a piece of Huntington.”

Lemons says the room is an oddity for a city the size of Huntington and encourages the community not to take the room for granted.

Joan Keefer was an integral force behind establishing the Indiana Room and preserving the county’s history.

In 1975, librarian Myron Smith decided to establish the Indiana Room at the old Carnegie Library in Huntington. Betty Heffelfinger, with the help of volunteer Joan Keefer, worked on the bicentennial project to develop the Indiana Room with a budget of $1,000. Keefer was hired as Betty’s assistant on January 3, 1978.

“Joan and the Indiana Room took off and never looked back,” Geri Davis, Business Manager at HCTPL said.

Keefer, who was Indiana Room Department Head in 1984, was appointed County Historian, a position she still holds today.

“This collection was not built overnight, and it will never ever be finished,” said Davis. “Everything is preserved for you by her. She preserved Huntington County’s history.”

Lemons unveiled the new name for the room by removing a drape from the doors, revealing the B. Joan Keefer Genealogy and Local History Center signage.

“It is because of Joan’s commitment to the Huntington County and it’s residents past, present and future, that as of today, the second of November, 2019, the Huntington City-Township Public Library Indiana Room will rename the B. Joan Keefer Genealogy and Local History Center,” said Davis.

Keefer has received local and state awards for her years of preservation work, including the Lieutenant Governor’s Hospitality Award in 2001 and the Willard C. Heiss Family History/Genealogy Award in 2007 from the Indiana Historical Society.

Keefer was selected to represent Huntington County as a Torchbearer in the 2016 Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay and was a member of the Huntington County Honors Class of 2017.

“That room is not only full of Huntington material, it is full of records from all over the world,” said Keefer. “And I don’t think people of Huntington realize that.”

Keefer says she believes Huntington has something special and thanked her family for their constant support over the years, including moving the collection from the Carnegie Library on Park Drive to the current library location.

“It was an effort on everybody’s part and not just mine,” she said.

The B. Joan Keefer Genealogy and Local History Center is a collection of historic materials about or related to the history and people of Huntington County.

The Center also has many resources available for those wishing to dig into and map their family tree. The collection contains a vast range of material related to Huntington, its early settlers, and the areas from where Huntington’s original citizens came.

The B. Joan Keefer Genealogy and Local History Center is located inside the Huntington Library at 255 W Park Dr and is open during regular library hours, Monday through Thursday 9 a.m. to 8p.m. and Friday through Saturday 9a.m. to 5 p.m.