Project to help harvest history

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County office, UNT join up to gather items of historical significance

The Denton County Office of History and Culture and the University of North Texas are teaming up on a new community history project.

Denton residents will soon be invited to bring items of historical significance to museum officials as part of the History Harvest program to build a digital museum of county history.

“The purpose of this nonprofit project is trying to strengthen community ties and continue recording Denton’s history,” said Chelsea Stallings, a UNT graduate student.

The date and time of the harvest is being worked out, but on that day, museum officials and volunteers will be ready to take the items that people bring in and either photograph or scan them, depending on what they are, and conduct interviews with the owners about the significance of the item to the owners and their families.

Stallings stressed that the items would not be donated to the museum and would stay in the owners’ possession.

Peggy Riddle, director of the Denton County Office of History and Culture, said the project will start in Southeast Denton and move on to other areas of the city and then expand farther out into the county.

“We’re not looking at having the stories of successful bankers and lawyers. What we want to do is have an opportunity for the people who don’t have a way to have their voice heard,” Riddle said of the plan.

“Harold Jackson, a county employee, has agreed to be the first participant in the project ... has a wonderful story of significant items he will tell us about,” she said.

The genesis of the idea came from a similar program Stallings studied out of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, which has been doing a harvest-type project for three years now.

“It’s the right time and right location to get it going and have a North Texas version of a history harvest,” Riddle said.

All the information is going to be digitally recorded and logged onto The Portal to Texas History through UNT. It’s a free website for those interested in continuing education, Stallings said.

The portal, basically an online museum, will be a great asset to teachers, she added.

“We’re going into the digital age,” she said. “It’s how people are learning. People anywhere in the state of Texas can access this information. It’s bringing information to the user right away.”

Right now the people attached to the project are Stallings, Riddle, Todd Moye from UNT and Kim Cupit, curator of collections for Denton County museums.

Stallings said the project is still looking for more people to help.

“There are going to be so many different little jobs we will need,” she said. “At the same time, someone will be photographing items, someone will be scanning items, giving interviews, leading people in and getting them set up, keeping people flowing and keeping the operation going.”

Those interested in more information on volunteering with the project can contact Stallings at Chelsea.Stallings@dentoncounty.com.

BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875 and via Twitter at @BjlewisDRC.


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