The Importance of Preservation

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Rose at the Homestead table, ready to sell items!

Rose at the Homestead table, ready to sell items!

On Friday I went to a conference for former one-room schoolhouse teachers and students at Peru State College. One of our own park rangers here at Homestead National Monument, Doris, has been a teacher and was invited to present at the conference. I was there to help Rose, one of the park volunteers, set up the Homestead table to sell books that had to do with schoolhouses and toys that children played with during those times. We had people approach our table with much interest in the books that we had displayed. We sold books in between presentations about one-room schoolhouse teachers and about the schoolhouse blizzard of 1888.
Doris, park ranger and former educator, presenting for the conference about one-room schoolhouses at Peru State College.

Doris, park ranger and former educator, presenting at the conference.

When it was time for Doris to present, she gave an overview of how teaching, schools, and students have transformed over the decades. Then she spoke about the importance of preserving one-room schoolhouses, like the Freeman school that still stands today at Homestead. She also spoke about her interest in preserving the oral histories of former schoolhouse teachers and students. Doris said that there have been stories lost that will never be recovered, which was sad for me to hear. I learned that schoolhouses are a piece of Nebraskan history and heritage that people at the conference seemed to value very much. Both presenters and attendees shared wonderful anecdotes. I found myself smiling and laughing along to the stories they had to share.
A display of pioneer toys at the conference.

I found the buzzer/zinger I used at the Children’s Festival during Homestead Days!

Joining Doris at this conference reminded me of how important my job is at Homestead with the Dempster project. I spent this whole week transcribing interviews and I thought it wouldn’t be interesting enough to write about. It’s an extremely slow process so far, but we need to make sure that these oral histories are saved for future generations. I already have an interview set up and I am hoping for a couple more before I leave! I think the conference served as a reminder of the importance of preservation and conservation, and that what I am doing at Homestead and with the LHIP is making a difference.

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