Why (Teaching) Preservation is Cool

Posted on: February 4th, 2009 by Guest Writer 1 Comment

Our roving reporter in action.

As preservationists, we all have our short list of what makes us tick. It’s the historic home we live in, or that old drug store around the corner, or those stunning petroglyphs in Utah, or the newly-conserved Star-Spangled Banner at the Smithsonian, or…

You get the point, but what about younger generations? What about “those kids today?” Is appreciating the past cool enough to cut through all the clutter and distractions hurled at them by MTV, MySpace and their Nintendo Wiis?

Well, according to the seniors in Paul LaRue’s Research History class, the answer is a resounding yes. To prove it, student Tyler K. set off as our roving reporter today, asking his classmates what they really think about their many preservation-focused class projects. Not only are they doing field work in Good Hope Cemetery (which we'll be documenting here all semester), they're also transcribing the stories of veterans who severed in all of our country's wars through the Library of Congress Veterans History Project.

(And for the record, “Lash” is their nickname for their esteemed teacher, Mr. LaRue. If you’re suddenly reminded of old western movies, you’re dead on.)

Dennis A. – "Through the Vietnam transcripts that I’ve worked on, I’ve become accustomed to preserving the stories of those people who risked their lives for our freedom. Listening to stories about the era during which my father risked his life has given me a new outlook on life. It has also introduced me to some wonderful people in the process."

Jeremy M. – "Preserving things today is cool because I’m not only benefiting my generation’s education and knowledge, I’m benefiting all the generations to come after me."

Alyssa D. – "Preservation is good because it saves the valuable history of our town. I have the opportunity to write an article about a Civil War veteran in Fayette County. I also enjoy typing up all the transcripts that my fellow classmates work on."

Shannon M. – "Through our class, my respect for veterans has grown. I have enjoyed listening to their honest, first-person accounts of what they experienced. Each day, I am surprised at how much more I learn through the projects we work on, whether it’s researching and writing articles – like how Thomas Edison might have worked in our own town – or listening to transcripts. I’m definitely going to miss this class and listening to the amusing discussions the freshman have with Lash over economics."

Jon A. – "Listening and writing down transcripts is a major part of my day. It has been very interesting hearing first-hand experiences from World War II veterans. It has been especially rewarding since I had the chance to transcribe my own grandfather’s tape."

Matt M. – "Preservation is important because you have a chance to not only save something forever, but to learn about the stories that you are making immortal. When you research, you obtain information from primary sources that will not only live with you forever, but with all of those who wish to see your preserved work."

Jackie P. – "Preservation gives you an opportunity to get your nose of out the textbooks and into the past. You gain knowledge from first-hand accounts of historic events that happened in the world, your country and even your hometown. Preservation gives you the ability to capture a moment in history instead of reading someone else’s efforts to describe those events."

Nicole F. – "I think preservation is important because we obtain information about people who did something great for the country we live in. Also, if these people we learn about have family members who don’t know them or their stories, this could be a way for them to get to know them. I enjoy getting to see Lash every day and hearing the stories of the veterans."

Kyler D. – "Preservation is the best way for future generations to understand what has happened in the past to shape our country. When you do the transcripts and listen to the audio of the veterans, you really start to understand just what history is. It gives you a closer relationship to the person and what they went through. The preservation work done through our class – and in any situation where an individual or group is working on a preservation project – is vital for future generations. We are preserving lives and making sure that what they did lasts forever."

Tyler K. – "Preservation is awesome. We get to see all the great history that is around us. We even get to leave school to go to the library to work with the cool microfilm reader. I also get to work with Photoshop and help Lash with computers. He needs it."

Alyssa S. – "This class has taught me a lot. It’s very eye opening to be a part of history. Listening to the tapes of old war veterans is amazing. We get a glimpse of what our country and world was like during times of war. Lash definitely makes this class fun and enjoyable, which adds to the fun of learning."

Taylor D. – "Going through and listening to the different stories and experiences that the veterans went through is very interesting. Being a part of this and actually listening to history is fun. This class has taught me to appreciate things more, and I’ve really enjoyed having it during my senior year."

Tim K. – "Preservation is cool because people aren’t always going to be around to tell their stories. With our efforts to preserve these stories, we not only learn about their interesting pasts, we save their legends for all future generations."

Sara S. – "Working on transcribing WWII veteran stories is amazing. I get to meet really cool people with whom I’ve become attached. I kind of float around the room filling in here and there, so I never have two days that are the same. As for Mr. LaRue, I love him dearly, and his encouraging words keep me going every day."

Erin R. – "I really enjoy hearing the stories of those who participated in previous wars. Their stories are compelling and definitely fun to work with. It also helps to have a great instructor like Mr. LaRue. He makes the work fun and the class very rewarding."

Lynne M. – "I have learned to work on databases. It has taken a really long time to enter all the names of the people buried in Good Hope Cemetery. It gets boring sometimes, but I race my partner, Alyssa, to see who can finish first. Now we are checking to make sure we typed all the information correctly, which is taking even longer than the typing did!"

Brittany T. – "I enjoy listening to the different experiences of those who were in war. It is fun transcribing their stories. Mr. LaRue is a great instructor, and this class provides good insight."

Seth B. – "After putting forth hours of treacherous work on transcribing, I’m mentally and physically exhausted. Mr. LaRue makes this class enjoyable. He’s always great to have around and lightens the mood. I look forward to Research History every day."

– Compiled by Tyler K.

Tyler K. is a senior at Washington High School in Washington Court House, Ohio. This semester, he’ll be working with his Research History classmates quoted above to document and preserve the Good Hope Cemetery. Stay tuned as they share their experiences here on our blog and on their Flickr photostream.

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Guest Writer

Although we're always on the lookout for blog content, we encourage readers to submit story ideas or let us know if you've seen something that might be interesting and engaging for a national audience. Email us at editorial@savingplaces.org.


One Response

  1. Julie Weisgerber

    February 5, 2009

    This project sounds amazing! Is there any information out there on who started this program, and got it off the ground??? Did it begin top down from the SHPO or bottom up, as in a teacher, school district or CLG??