On Thursday, March 1, between 12 a.m. and 11:59 p.m., Keeler Tavern Museum and History Center (KTHC) is participating in Fairfield County’s Giving Day, the 24-hour online competition hosted by Fairfield County Giving Foundation with lead sponsor Bank of America.

This year, KTHC is raising money to purchase a high-quality, flat-bed scanner, which will allow museum curators to digitize archival documents for preservation and research purposes. Digital copies of archival materials allow researchers greater access to these fragile and unique documents. The scanner will also allow curators to digitize the glass plate negatives in KTHC’s Hartmann Collection. The Hartmann Collection contains over seven thousand negatives of photographs taken by Ridgefield photographer Joseph Hartmann at the turn of the 20th century. Through the efforts of The Hartmann Society and KTHC, roughly 10% of the photographs have had prints made or have been digitally archived.

Joseph Hartmann, a German immigrant to Ridgefield, opened a photography studio on the top floor of the Bedient building at the corner of Main St. and Bailey Ave. around 1890. Throughout his nearly 50-year career in Ridgefield, Hartmann took thousands of portraits of the residents of Ridgefield – rich and poor, young and old, new arrivals and long-time residents. The Hartmann Collection also includes photographs of weddings, civic events, social groups, insides and outsides of houses, street scenes – a photographic history of the town at the turn of the century. Photographs from the collection have been used in several town histories, including Images of America: Ridgefield, and as part of KTHC education programs.

In past years, KTHC has been able use the funds raised through Giving Day to restore several textiles, including Julia Gilbert’s court gown, Anna Marie Resseguie’s childhood sampler, two 19th century hooked rugs, and a late 19th century boy’s suit. On March 1, KTHC hopes that donors will make equally generous contributions to help it continue its mission of preservation. Donations can be made online at keelertavernmuseum.org or by calling the Museum office at 203-438-5485.