Locals’ memories of events to be preserved

Published 9:35 am Monday, February 22, 2010

The Albert Lea Public Library and the Freeborn County Historical Museum announced this week they have been awarded a grant that will be used to preserve area residents’ personal memories of significant local, national and world events.

The $7,500 grant, distributed through the Southeastern Libraries Cooperating/Southeast Library System, comes through the Arts and Culture Heritage Fund.

Library Director Peggy Havener said in today’s technology based-world of e-mails, spreadsheets, Facebook and Twitter, society is losing its history because there are fewer letters, journals and other paper-based forms of information that tell the stories of daily living.

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The library and the historical museum aim to ensure that future generations will have access to the personal histories of the area’s residents.

“We’re very excited about it,” said museum Executive Director Pat Mulso. “With this project we will not only have the voices of the people we interview, but we’ll have video, too. You’ll get to see their expressions, and maybe photos or articles, too.”

The project, called “See It Now … Freeborn County Memories,” will be in three phases.

The first phase, which this round of grant money will go toward, will deal with the World War II era.

It will focus on five specific events:

Attack on Pearl Harbor: Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941

D-Day: Tuesday, June 6, 1944

Death of President Roosevelt: Thursday, April 12, 1945

Victory in Europe (V-E Day): Tuesday, May 8, 1945

Victory in Pacific (V-J Day): Tuesday, Aug. 14, 1945, in the United States, Wednesday, Aug. 15, 1945, in Japan

The second phase will deal with other national events from history — such as 9/11, the Challenger explosion and the JFK assassination — and the third phase will include events that have been important to Freeborn County’s history, Mulso said. Some of these local events may include the ice storm of 1991 and the tornado of 1967.

Interviews will be recorded in a video format and preserved on DVDs that will be available for checkout at the library and archived at the museum. A DVD will also be given to the participants to keep as a part of their family history.

Some interviews will also be available for download in a podcast format on the library and museum’s Web sites.

“A lot of people will probably tell us things they’ve never told even their family,” Havener said. “But by sharing memories, they may go home and share more.”

The two women encouraged people interested in being interviewed to fill out an application starting March 1. Applications will be available at the library and the historical museum, as well as online.

Havener said the state is also going to provide some free training about compiling oral histories and making documentary films for the library and museum staff involved with the project.

The two entities will be able to apply for additional funding for the other phases.

She said the grant was originally supposed to be for $2,500 but got extended to cover additional expenses.

It will be able to cover some staff time as well as the equipment necessary to complete the interviews.

Mulso said she and Havener hope to have the majority of the taping for the first phase done in June and on their Web sites by June 30.