Recognition of research center hoped to spur aid

by Nathan Whalen

The University’s Immigration History Research Center has been recognized by a White House council for outstanding contribution to the preservation of American history.
The Immigration History Research Center, housed in an old coffee warehouse on Berry Street in St. Paul, is an official project of Save America’s Treasures, a public-private partnership between the White House Millennium Council and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
The president and first lady launched the initiative to encourage communities to preserve their historical past. Funding is provided for restoration and research projects.
Immigration center staff members were notified about the nomination in July. The designation has the potential to increase the center’s donations.
Officials from the treasures project will seek out groups willing to donate to the center and increase its national visibility.
To qualify for the project designation, an organization must focus on historic preservation and operate as a state, local or nonprofit agency.
The center, which archives historical material for more than 24 ethnic groups, is using the status to embark on an endowment campaign to become more financially sustainable, said Director Rudolph Vecoli.
“This brings us the recognition of the highest authority of historic preservation,” Vecoli said.
Vecoli said he welcomes the designation since it is generally difficult to attract attention to the center’s work on immigrant history.
In recent years, the center has drawn repeatedly on the same donation sources, he said.
Proceeds from the new fund-raising campaign will go toward several improvements:
ù the addition of curator positions to focus on the major ethnic groups documented by the center;
ù the establishment of an endowed professorship; and
ù the improvement of research projects and community outreach.
The treasures project has designated other local projects, including the “Spoonbridge and Cherry” sculpture at the Walker Art Center. Funds from the program are being used to repair the Minneapolis landmark, said Kathryn Ross, director of special-project fund raising at the art museum.
Ross said cracks have developed in the sculpture, which she said is the Minneapolis version of the Statue of Liberty.
Funds received through the initiative will also be used in the upkeep of the art museum’s permanent collection, she said. The Walker became part of the treasures project last January.

Nathan Whalen covers facilities and construction and can be reached at [email protected].