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Talent Historical Society- Making Local History Project

June 2, 2020

By: Debra Moon, Board Member at Talent Historical Society

A precious book is archived at the Talent Museum in Southern Oregon. It was made by a well-loved teacher, Genevieve Holdridge, and her third-grade students, chronicling Talent Elementary and the town of Talent through the years 1956-1966. Photographs, student letters, captions, and programs scrapbook-style, tell the story. Pages are devoted to Churches, Restaurants, Service Stations, City Government, as well as School Staff, Christmas Programs, Field Trips, and more. 

The treasured book is a ready-made social studies adventure and the inspiration for the Talent Historical Society (THS) project, “Making Local History,” funded by the Oregon Heritage Commission and by Jackson County Cultural Coalition. It entails making copies of the book available to second and third-grade students at Talent Elementary and to visitors at the Museum. In addition, the project includes a plan for curriculum lessons, a first unit about the students’ own school, then a second unit about the town from 1910 (date of incorporation) through 1960, the first fifty years. Also planned are two museum exhibits and open house events at the museum for students, their families, and the public.

What We Wished We’d Known Before Starting the Project:

Many pieces of our project proved to be more labor intensive and costly than we first estimated. In a major undertaking, the oversized pages had to be scanned and printed. Though we were not surprised by the cost of this part of the project, we were surprised by the time it took. We also decided to upgrade the type of paper on which it was printed. The long-lasting polymer paper that we finally chose was three times more costly than regular paper. Luckily, THS voted to give us $750 to use as discretionary funds to make up the difference.

Of course, we had no idea that just after the first quarter of our project, the world would go into pandemic mode! Our goals include a lot of outreach, and pandemics make that very hard. We got permission to divert some of our grant funds to post the “Flip Book” (Mrs. Holdridge’s special book) on a webpage of the Talent Historical Society website, along with the six curriculum lessons we developed to go with the book. Teachers and parents were notified that the lessons and images are available online. The local paper also carried the announcement, as did the THS quarterly newsletter. Open house events are not yet happening but will possibly be replaced by small viewings and/or YouTube presentations.   

What Brings Us Pride:

We have been able to stay on track with our timeline despite the pandemic—delivering the materials to the schools online. We came up with a fantastic idea for our exhibit panels. We wallpapered each of the three panels of the exhibit to go with the era of schools in Talent’s history: The first panel (1854 to 1887) is log cabin paper, the second is a wainscoting (1888-1899)  and the third is brick (1900 to 1960), for our beloved Brick School.

Our project is providing class sets of jacks and marbles to go with the “Then and Now” curriculum. We are proud that these pieces of the project are all ready for when school starts up again.

Our Historian, Jan Wright, our other Board Members, and our volunteers have worked as a team to make our goals a success, and we are very proud of this teamwork. Enthusiastic Second and Third-Grade Teachers at Talent Elementary School also bring us much pride. We have pride both in our heritage and our community today and are happy to help teachers by “Making Local History” resources available to them.

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