Academic journal article The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography

From the Director: The Downsizing of America

Academic journal article The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography

From the Director: The Downsizing of America

Article excerpt

Over the years, in this space I have discussed the tremendous growth of the VHS. In a decade, membership has increased 300 percent.

Visitation has jumped tenfold. Our functions now often draw overflow crowds. Thanks to your generosity, the annual fund has reached all-time record levels. We have significantly expanded our programs statewide, while upgrading our service to the community of scholars. We have greatly enlarged our physical plant to serve a broader public.

One area of growth, however, concerns us. Our collections are increasing at a phenomenal rate. From our founding in 1831 until 1990, our manuscripts grew to some 7 million items. Since then, they have grown 30 percent! Our museum collection has more than doubled during that time. What is the explanation? Certainly, we are more visible to the public than before, and people know their heirlooms will find a good, secure home here.

Then, there is a new phenomenon that I call the "downsizing of America," something that institutions like ours around the country are experiencing. Senior Americans in unprecedented numbers are selling their homes and moving into retirement communities and condominiums. …

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