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How Much Do You Care About the History of Another?

A few days ago, while enjoying some chocolate sandwich cookies and walking on the canal, Jeff Harris and I started a conversation about how much (or little) we ever talk about history content with local history groups. As the Local History Services department, you might expect that we're the place to go to get your questions answered about which Indiana county sent the most solders to fight in the Civil War or why the town of Madison isn't in Madison County. But the truth is, when someone asks those specific local history questions, we send them to the IHS reference desk.

What we do in LHS is talk about how local history is collected, preserved and shared with the public. We talk about engaging exhibit techniques, attracting new audiences to history organizations, fundraising for new roofs and archival boxes, and defending the value of local history. We may pick up fascinating details about a particular place on a site visit – like how all of Starke County smelled lovely during the mint harvest and how important that industry was. But rarely do we purposefully talk about the history or a particular place when we are with groups from different sites.

Is that a mistake on our part? Would we engage more local history organization presidents and directors if we made a space for these local history stories to be told in our In Your Neighborhood meetings or during workshops? Would you, Dear Reader, be more likely to read our blog, subscribe to Communique Online or visit our LHS department webpage if we share interesting tidbits of local history? Would you like to hear about another town or county's history?

We're not sure (although Jeff leans one way and I lean the other). Can you help us decide? Tell us if you would like to hear more about the local history of others!

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Comments (7)

1. Shirley Willard says

April 6, 2012 at 9:36 a.m.
Iwould like to hear about other county's history. I love history and all the stories are interesting to me. I get ideas from other counties and what they have done with their local history. So please do include more of it in your work with the County Historians.

2. Connie says

April 9, 2012 at 4:05 p.m.
Absolutely I'd like to hear more about the local history of others!

3. Maribeth Zay Fischer says

April 11, 2012 at 12:18 p.m.
Absolutely, tell the forgotten stories. We are interested. I for one would like to know where the mate is for the wooden carved eagle known as "The Lincoln Eagle" at the Columbia Club. A pair of these eagles stood over Lincoln's casket when his body was briefly in the statehouse on his return to Springfield, IL, for burial. And why did Governor Oliver Morton (did you know his original name was Throckmorton?) give the eagle which now resides at the Columbia Club to John McGraw, an officer in the 57th IN Volunteers Regiment? It was McGraw's widow who presented it to the Columbia Club.

4. Debbie DuBrucq says

May 11, 2012 at 4:01 p.m.
This would be such an undertaking. I have hit my golden plus years and admit that if I had asked (and listened) years ago, I would know more than what I do now. I came to this realization once I got into tracing my ancestors. Knowing the local history would help in understanding the events and what made things happen. Like I am wondering why one line left KY to migrate to Putnam County, Indiana. Was it lack of work in KY? Was it a new railroad going up in Putnam County? Then something else happened and 1 ancestor ended up in the Asylum and 1 in the Orphanage. Why? Understand or knowing a little bit about the local work and economy might just hold those answers. Just a thought. I vote a thumbs up with the undertaking. Thank you all for what you do for those of us who don't live so close.

5. ron woodward says

June 14, 2012 at 2:44 p.m.
Having been the county historian for Wabash County since 1981, I had attended a lot of meetings. The most successful, in my opinion, were those in which other historians shared about what was been done in their area and the research they were involved with. I have found others to be interested in the stories of others. I always appreciated meetings in which people told of the stories of their community. I have also learned from them as well. I remember a county historian meeting in which a county historian shared stories of her community during World War II and gave us a picture of a pig that when folded looked like Adolph Hitler. the last meeting I attended had so much enthusiasm it was unbelieveable. Why? We were asked to gather into groups and share stories from our respective counties. Then we shared with the larger group. At every meeting I have come away with some interesting story of some county picked up either as a program or while sitting around before the meeting or during lunch when we would share. When I first joined the Indiana Historical Society in 1974 the bureau pulbished the INDIANA HISTORY BULLETIN. One of its intents was to share tidbits of information from one county to another in a friendly informative manner. Printed monthly I always looked forward to it. In fact I still have a set of them going back to the 60s as my father also belonged. I still pull them out and find interesting articles on the various counties of Indiana. I use them before I give a paresentation in some other county or am travelling to another county to learn about the local area. We need less about museum management and more participation from county historians on their projects, activities and communities. As I am finishing this I looked at my incoming email. A person who has not even identified themself wants to know the history of Monkeytown a small community with Wabash. I live near Fidler's Green just down the street from Five Points that is four blocks from Germantown. And if one goes six blocks south from Germantown they are Choketown. Yet all the time still in Wabash. Has your interest been peeked by these names even though you may not know Wabash? Ron Woodward Wabash County Historian

6. Marcia Brenneman says

June 19, 2012 at 10:26 a.m.
Stacy, Isn't this a no-brainer? After all history is in the title of not only the article, but of the society! Sometimes when working with museums and historical groups I think we get so involved with the process that we forget or ignore what we are perserving and saving for. If we didn't have the history, why have the society or the museum? Maybe I'm looking at this as a former history teacher but I think knowing about not only our local areas, but also others in the state is what we are about.

7. Maribeth Zay Fischer says

April 17, 2013 at 11:57 a.m.
Well, a year has gone by. I hope you are adding more "stories" (isn't that what history is a collection of) to your repertoire when you make your presentations about "process" as Marcia Brenneman said above. Recently someone asked me to do a cemetery look up at a cemetery at 79th and Springmill. My first reaction was, "Mistake--there isn't a cemetery at 79th and Springmill; I am in the neighborhood and have been driving by that intersection almost daily for over 20 years." But just beyond the tree line on the east side of the street there is a lane into an abandoned pioneer cemetery called Newby Cemetery, and administered by the Washington Township trustee. Who were these Newby and Sutton families and what did they contribute to what is now a bustling, suburban Washington Township?