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Personal approach sets program apart

The Denton County Office of History and Culture and the University of North Texas are teaming up on a new community history project, and Denton residents will soon be invited to participate.

It’s called the History Harvest program, and organizers tell us that the goal is to build a digital museum.

“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 still being worked out, but on the appointed day, Denton residents will be asked to bring in items of historical significance to be scanned or photographed by museum officials and volunteers.

Residents will also be interviewed about each item’s significance to them and their families.

Stallings made it clear 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.

The goal is to get items from residents in all walks of life, officials said.

“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.

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.”

Those working on the project at the current time include Stallings, Riddle, Todd Moye from UNT and Kim Cupit, curator of collections for Denton County museums.

Stallings said they are still looking for others 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 e-mail

The project sounds like a challenging undertaking, but it could provide a fascinating glimpse at local history, and we look forward to seeing the results.

We especially like the personal approach that officials are taking — their interest in giving a voice to those who may not always have been heard.

It sounds like the project will allow a lot more Denton residents to take their place in history, and that’s only right — after all, they’re the ones who lived it.