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Source: Michele Janette, 785-532-5738, mjanette@k-state.edu

Monday, Feb. 7, 2011

'HISTORY'S QUIET KEEPERS': DOCUMENTARY TO RECOGNIZE CONTRIBUTIONS OF VOLUNTEER MEMORYKEEPERS

MANHATTAN -- A Kansas State University documentary project is recognizing the contributions of volunteers in five Kansas communities that help preserve historical memories.

The project will create the documentary film, "History's Quiet Keepers," which will feature interviews with volunteers at historical societies and cultural centers in five Kansas communities: Alma, Clay Center, Garden City, Topeka and Westmoreland. The documentary's goal is to increase visibility about diverse Kansas histories and about the gatherers of those histories.

The project, supported by a $10,050 grant from the Kansas Humanities Council for celebrations of the state's sesquicentennial, is led by four K-State faculty members: Michele Janette, director of the women's studies program and an associate professor of English; M.J. Morgan, adjunct professor of history; Gabriela Diaz de Sabates, instructor of women's studies; and Sue Zschoche, associate professor of history.

"We want to recognize the historical work done by community volunteers -- often women -- who too frequently go unrecognized as historical preservers," said Janette, who is director of the project. "We want to bring stories from different parts of Kansas together, connecting the memorykeeping of a Wabaunsee County Historical Society volunteer who organizes history treasure hunts in Eskridge with the memorykeeping of a volunteer organizer of the Fiesta Mexicana in Topeka."

"Discussions about the history of vanished and vanishing small places in Kansas have occurred in living rooms, museums, out in fields, in nursing homes, in churches," Morgan said. "Our project will bring those discussions to a wider audience."

Once the documentary film is complete, it will be screened in the five communities. The screenings, called Kansas History Road Shows, will be open to the public for viewing and discussion. The road shows also will invite public participation in further historical preservation through Everyone is a Historian booths, where local residents can bring objects they own to be photographed and can record stories about the object and how it came to be part of their personal or familial collection.

Filming will begin this semester, and organizers hope the documentary will be ready for screenings in the fall.