By Bob Uphues
As the village of Brookfield marched toward its 125th birthday in 2018 – officially the date arrives in November – local resident Allen Goodcase decided that a little social media exposure wouldn't do anything to hurt the cause.
In late November, he launched a Facebook page on behalf of the Brookfield Historical Society and Museum and has since posted historic photos and other images he's collected throughout the years.
Right now, that Facebook page is the single most visible acknowledgement of the village's landmark birthday – one he hopes will help spur a new generation of residents to rally around the village's history and the museum that serves as a repository for much of it.
"The goal is to turn it over to volunteers who can take it on and run with it," said Goodcase, whose social media foray on behalf of the historical society has the blessing of its director, Kit Ketchmark.
Ketchmark and Karen Miller are the historical society's lone officers. Essentially, they are the society, which operates the historical museum house in the old Grossdale Station at 8820½ Brookfield Ave. Neither is active on social media, making Goodcase's effort all the more welcome.
"We don't have the ability to do it," said Ketchmark. "We're not on Facebook."
Goodcase said he was inspired to create the Facebook page after reading about the resurrection of the Brookfield Women's Club, whose final five members were on the verge of disbanding until an article in the Landmark sparked a revival.
The trouble was not very many people knew about the club. The reinvigorated Brookfield Women's Club has more than 20 members and its new Facebook page has more than 200 followers. Goodcase hopes the historical society's Facebook page might be just the thing to reintroduce the society to Brookfield residents.
"I thought a Facebook page would put things out front," Goodcase said.
In the matter of a little more than two months, the page has attracted more than 200 followers, and some cross pollination from another Brookfield community page called "You Know You're from Brookfield, IL When ..." has helped boost traffic.
Goodcase, who sometimes spends hours digitally restoring damaged old pictures, sees the Facebook page as more than just a spot to post old photos and engage in nostalgia. He sees it as a vital vehicle for publicizing events, fundraising and soliciting new historical society members and volunteers.
"All of this stuff is possible with a Facebook page," Goodcase said. "I'm hoping it'll kick start things."
Right now, all of the photos being posted on the Facebook page come from Goodcase's personal collection, providing an online time capsule of a Brookfield that once had two competing downtown drug stores, where elm trees once lined the 3700 block of Grand Boulevard and a Ford dealer was selling new 1960 models on Ogden Avenue.
It's an effort that running parallel to a Brookfield Public Library-led effort to digitize photos in the historical society's collection.
Since that effort started late in 2017, it has attracted more than 20 volunteers – about a dozen of whom dedicate a day a week to it.
Frank Murray, head of reference and electronic services for the library, said volunteers have been divided into researcher/labeler and digitizer teams.
The researcher/labeler compiles information about a photo and labels it in a database by cross-referencing the photo using an item number. Meanwhile, digitizers scan photos in batches of 10 and upload them to a digital platform.
The online archive isn't live yet, said Murray, but almost 300 photos have already been entered into the system. He said he expects to have the digital archive go public by the end of February.
Meanwhile, village officials continue to build the 125th birthday of the village into its event planning for the summer.
Ketchmark, who also serves as village president, said the July 4 parade and community celebration in Kiwanis Park will "be a much bigger deal" and the number and quality of summer outdoor concerts may also be expanded and improved, he said.
"It all takes people to do it," Ketchmark said. "Ideas by themselves don't happen."
Anyone wishing to get involved, said Ketchmark, can email Village Manager Keith Sbiral at firstname.lastname@example.org