Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Talking of heritage

Budleigh Salterton’s Fairlynch Museum (pictured left) and East Budleigh’s Salem Chapel will be among the many historic centres which are celebrating this month with special exhibitions.

Since 1991 Heritage Weekend European Heritage Days have been held annually in September in 49 countries, from the Baltic to the Balkans, from Iceland to the Iberian Peninsular, highlighting not only the dazzling diversity of Europe’s heritage, but also its intercultural links.

Across the Atlantic, interest in heritage is just as strong. This September will see the anniversary of the launch of an exciting new project by the University of Massachusetts at Boston and the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities.

Brewster was the first Cape Cod town to be visited by the Mass. Memories Road Show.
On the afternoon of September 13th 2008, residents were invited to bring up to three photos or documents that illustrate the early – and and/or – current life of Brewster. The items were scanned onsite and the originals immediately returned to the owners. People were also invited to contribute to an oral history video project and tell the story relevant to their photos or documents – on camera.

Over the next few years the Road Show hopes to visit all 351 communities in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Above: Local resident Bill Wibel holding documents at the Brewster Mass. Memories Road Show at the Brewster Ladies Library on September 13, 2008.

The Sept 2008 event was locally sponsored by the Brewster Archives Committee, a town-wide committee which includes members from the Town Clerk’s office, the Brewster Ladies’ Library, the Brewster Historical Society, the First Parish Church and interested Brewster history researchers. The Committee’s mission is to collaboratively and cooperatively identify, preserve, catalogue and provide online databased access to Brewster historical and archival records.

“Everyone who lives here probably has a piece of the history of this town, either in documents or pictures,” explained Brewster-based author Sally Gunning, who has been instrumental in the Committee’s ambitious project. The goal, she says, is to scan all public records for online use, giving “a much better picture of the history of Brewster.” Above: Nina Gregson holding a photo of her house

Brewster Ladies’ Library was already the base for the Brewster Oral History Project, a collection of taped interviews with people who have been part of the town's history. The tapes are arranged alphabetically and each one is accompanied by a transcript.

Subjects include Brewster resident Washington Chase talking about the cranberry industry from the time of the Depression to 1997, when the recording was made; Bob Finch talking about the town’s ghosts; Roz Gage describing how she and her husband found a cache of bootlegged whiskey in the sand on Brewster beach; and Cathy Kroeger relating stories of her great-great-grandfather's seagoing days in the heyday of the Brewster ship captains. Above: Clippings of Brewster and scrapbook of Bernice Hayes

“We are aware our collection is far from complete,” say the project’s organizers. “We are looking for additional interviewees who would like to hand down their memories of Brewster throughout the years, and we are also hoping to recruit volunteers who would act as interviewers to help keep those memories alive.”
Above: Staff, volunteers and contributors pose for a photo at the Brewster Mass. Memories Road Show at the Brewster Ladies Library on September 13, 2008.
Images courtesy of the Mass. Memories Road Show http://www.massmemories.net/
The link to the Mass. Memories Road Show in Brewster is http://massmemories.net/searchresults.php?search=brewster&type=res_captions
For more information on the Brewster Oral History project see http://www.brewsterladieslibrary.org/resources/brhistory.php

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