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Community history projects what i do... Presentation Transcript

  • 1. Community History Projects… a Sample of What I Like to Do By Ellen Apperson Brown
  • 2. Community History Projects… One Woman's Perspective… By Ellen Apperson Brown
  • 3. For many years, while honing my skills as historian and writer, I have been developing a business (Community Archives of SWVA, LLC) - designed to encourage history education, through collecting, research, writing, and publishing. I keep hoping to be taken under the wing, so to speak, of a museum or historical society, and be incorporated into the offerings there…with the help of grant funding. Perhaps this may eventually attract the attention of larger, more regional entities, and they might arrange to secure my services. Together we could start developing historical content that could be shared over the internet, and help them attract a broad membership base. From Lost Communities of Virginia, by Terri Fisher and Kirsten Sparenborg
  • 4. A few years ago, I taught a workshop in Bedford for museum staff and volunteers, helping them to better understand historic methodology, and encouraging them to develop a project to better market and manage the content of their archival materials…so that they could better answer questions of visitors, and be better prepared to explain about Bedford's history. Similar workshops could be offered in other museums, such as this one, in Salem, by contracting with me to do the teaching and training.
  • 5. To give you an idea of my interests and knowledge, here is a brief description of some of the history projects I have worked on in recent years. From Jamestown to Blacksburg: The Path to the College of Natural Resources at Virginia Tech, 2007.
  • 6. 90th Anniversary History of the Roanoke Kiwanis Club – 2010…
  • 7. Coordinator of Oral History Project at the Virginia Museum of Transportation – with three college interns, collected interviews from a dozen WWII pilots, in preparation for a new exhibit, and created a large digital data base… Summer of 2011…
  • 8. Archivist – scanned the records of the Lutheran Orphanage (in Salem); making slide shows for the Facebook page (Lutheran Family Services), etc. Created a digital data base…Ten months work, 2012…
  • 9. Scanning – Records for St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Fincastle…scanned scrap books and vestry minutes from about 1920-2000 and created a digital archive; contributed articles for the church's newsletter.
  • 10. Recordings - made video recordings of parish events and posted them to the website, including talks (Bobby Waid – the Mayor of Fincastle, talking about growing up in the church), picnics, and several "history talks" for the youth on their pilgrimage, in the summer of 2013.
  • 11. Publishing – a set of newsletters originally published in 1998-2000, by the Eagle Rock Improvement Association. We scanned the newsletters and had them printed in book form, selling over 225 copies and raising about $4,000 for the renovation of the Community Center in Eagle Rock. Nadine Rankin (90), the author and editor of these newsletters, is delighted to see her book in print, as are the members of the Eagle Rock Ruritan Club, who appreciate the money and the favorable attention!
  • 12. Research and writing – about the Virginia Frontier…I have published two articles in the Smithfield Review (vol. 7 & 8) about Mary Draper Ingles, my 6X great grandmother, and am currently working on a biography of William Ingles, Mary's husband. He was accused of being a Loyalist, and I have recently discovered evidence that his father, Thomas Ingles (or Inglis) was a Loyalist merchant in Charleston, SC (1782) and died in Jamaica in 1788. This is a rich topic, and may be of considerable interest to others seeking to better understand what their ancestors were doing in this part of Virginia, especially during the eighteenth century.
  • 13. Newsletters – Telling Institutional Stories…
  • 14. Research and writing – about my great uncle, John S. Apperson, Jr., who was born in Chilhowie, Virginia, but moved to Schenectady, New York in 1900, becoming an engineer at the General Electric Company, and a leader in the effort to protect the Adirondack Forest Preserve. I have a book nearly finished, a biography, and hope to find the right publisher soon! I have also had several articles published about him in some of the Adirondack blogs and online journals, and have created a website, a sort of digital archive, giving a preview of the fascinating letters from his collection of personal papers. Another book under way…is one that tells more about the Apperson family, including Dr. John S. Apperson (a medic during the Civil War), and Harvey Black Apperson (son of the doctor, and half-brother of the engineer) who became Attorney General for Virginia, in the 1940s. He built the house on Apperson Drive, in Salem.
  • 15. One of my latest topics of interest - is an idea to write a book called "GE Comes to the Roanoke Valley," and collect stories from scores of local people, documenting the impact that G.E. had on this region. Several people have helped me so far, and shared their stories. There might be a number of people here at the Salem Museum who might like to be interviewed… There is no doubt that G.E. families stirred up plenty of changes – in the arts, education, and so forth. 1954 General Electric announced plans for a multi-million- dollar plant at Salem's eastern limits. The arrival was assessed as being "the greatest single industrial development in the Roanoke Valley" since 1914.
  • 16. I have a book that I would like to publish soon, called Missing Ingredients: A Thoughtful Look at Elder Care Institutions, which I completed about 15 years ago, when I was a student at UNC- Asheville. I tell of my experiences visiting my mother, who had become confused and disoriented, and of the lessons I learned. I developed a strategy for reaching out to residents of retirement communities and nursing homes, to be called Pelican Projects…and have yet to get it started anywhere, but I keep hoping. At the heart of this approach is something I call "history therapy" – similar to music therapy…as a way to help people share their stories…
  • 17. I have offered classes at Virginia Western, for teacher recertification, called Imagining the Virginia Frontier, and a workshop at the Virginia Writer's Conference called Writing History. I am pretty good at helping people find answers to their questions about genealogy, using Ancestry.com, taking advantage of my extensive collection of history books (about 600) and thus helping people to understand the context of history. I would love to figure out how to set up a business with a blog and members, publishing information about families and individuals, and allowing members to post their research, too. To see more examples of my work, please have a look at my website: www.vahistoryexchange.com.
  • 18. I have several older friends who have an attic full of "stuff" and no idea what to do with it. Their children are too busy, and they probably won't have time to sift through all these old photos and letters…so what to do? I'm not sure what might work at the Salem Museum, but it seems possible that a few individuals could be recruited who would enjoy visiting with the elderly person, listening to their stories, looking through their materials… and offering to help in some way. As an ongoing project, this might be a way to reach out to the community and show that history is not just about honoring "important people" - but that everyone has interesting stories to tell. It would be good to establish friendly relationships, maybe intergenerational ones, too, and there is a good chance that this could produce material suitable for an exhibit, or a book!
  • 19. I feel strongly that museums should be placing more emphasis (and more time and financial resources) to the process of organizing the archives (including papers, books, and artifacts), and training volunteers to take the lead in the entire process. Most museums do not have adequate resources to hire an archivist or pay a professional to scan documents and create a complicated digital filing system. I have been experimenting, based on my own research and writing, and learning how best to scan documents, set up a filing system, and publish some of my findings on the internet. I think that volunteers could easily be trained to do what I have learned to do. I would love to be invited to offer a workshop, and see if there are individuals interested in launching a project or two… Even if the museum is not quite ready to invite people to start emptying their attics, someone could be designated to organize a specific project or two, and start collecting… I firmly believe that there are other "60 something" seniors out there who would enjoy embarking on a history project, and learning more about all these fabulous new technological tools that are available. That is my dream… My dream…