Project Show and Tell

By Patricia Houghton Conly

When you look at old photos, there is a bounty of information in them. This background is of the old depot in Danville that now serves as the recycling center. What was that vehicle the girls are seated on used for?

Time is precious when it comes to preserving your family history and memories. Old photographs and documents provide clues about our past and what life was like for our ancestors living in the community. As we get older, these details and memories become more important to us as we reflect on who we are and where we are going at this point in our lives. It is imperative that we take the time to talk to our older family members and friends and encourage them to share their stories about the past in order to accurately document them to be passed on to future generations.

If you or any member of your family have been a long time resident of Danville, you may likely have valuable pieces of history hidden away in your collections of photos and memorabilia. As I look through photos and artifacts from my own, as well as my husband’s family, I have come to realize that these items are of extreme relevance to our local historical society in the attempt to keep Danville history alive for this and future generations. Names and faces of long time residents of our town, as well as the background scenery in photos, can provide important historical information. Stories about the people and places in the photos can help to bring them back to life and give us a feeling of knowledge and pride about our town’s history.

With current technology, we are now able to scan, copy, and digitize information to be shared in a variety of formats. This allows us to make this information available to other family members as well as groups such as the historical society without having to permanently part with the original documents if one does not wish to do so at the present time.

Recording oral histories can be another important tool for preserving details of our past. People love to tell their stories of what life was like back in the day. Hearing these stories told in the teller’s own words and voice can be an especially poignant form of documentation.

From my own experience, spending time looking at old photographs with a family member who may be suffering from a dementia type illness can be a very comforting and rewarding activity as well as a helpful distraction during difficult times. Even though their short-term memory may be affected, they often still have a very keen sense of remembering details and events of the past with amazing accuracy. Simply looking at an old photograph can jog their memory of countless other stories and events. Taking the time to organize and label photos may just be the first step for your family to begin recording your own family history.

The Danville Historical Society will begin a project in the near future to collect and record information and record oral histories from our long time residents. We invite and encourage you to share your stories with us as well as family and friends to help us better understand the fabric of our town, both past and present. For more information, or help getting started, please contact the Danville Historical Society at 802 684 2055.

To see more photos related to this article, click here.


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