Maine Historical Society staff has spent an inordinate amount of time this fall in one Maine Community Heritage Project community. But that’s because “community” in this case is defined as an entire supervisory union–RSU #10, covering the Western Foothills Region of Maine.
Consisting of 10 different schools, this educational network reaches across a whopping 12 towns. For the MCHP, we are working for the moment with just six of these towns–Buckfield, Byron, Dixfield, Mexico, Peru, and Rumford–but that’s four more than we’ve ever had as part of a single team.
It’s a unique situation that requires some of out-of-the-box planning and facilitating, but the team is right where they are supposed to be at this time of the year–beginning the process of selecting items to add to Maine Memory; brainstorming and narrowing topics for the website’s narrative and exhibits; and energizing participating students with a variety of field trips and specialized training.
In September, site visits were made by MHS Community Partnership Coordinator and MCHP administrator Larissa Vigue Picard to five of the participating historical societies to assess their collections, and answer questions related to which photographs, documents, and artifacts would be most appropriate on Maine Memory. The depth and variety of the collections promise a rich array of items being added to the Network over the course of the year.
Larissa also recently visited the classroom of Kurt Rowley, who teaches social studies at Dirigo High School in Dixfield, to provide an overview to Maine Memory Network, and review scanning and basic cataloging with 13 students. The students have already gone on field trips to Dixfield Historical Society and the town’s historic Opera House.
Two of the other participating schools–Buckfield Jr/Sr High and Holy Saviour in Rumford–have held popular photography workshops, led by MHS Image Services Coordinator Dani Fazio, for the students working on the project. (Another is scheduled for next week at Dirigo High.) These 90-120 minute workshops teach participants how to set up a simple studio virtually anywhere with some basic, readily available materials; how to handle and compose fragile historic artifacts for photographing; and how to adjust lighting and angles to capture a near-perfect image.
For more information on the project from the RSU’s perspective including the original team application, as well as a slew of great photos taken by team coordinator Nick Waugh, visit the MCHP page on RSU 10’s Technology Committee page. And follow the team throughout the year on this blog for more updates and accomplishments!