Visions and Voices to celebrate fifth anniversary

November 4, 2009

In five years, Wabash Valley Visions and Voices has grown in ways its organizers did not anticipate.

Now, they want to celebrate.

On Nov. 5 from 1 to 3 p.m., organizers will celebrate the digital memory project's fifth anniversary with reenactments, oral history, music and cake. The free event is open to the public and will take place in Indiana State University's Cunningham Memorial Library's Special Events Area.

Activities during the celebration include presentations on "Historic Native American Villages of the Middle Wabash River Valley" and "A Memorial Worth Keeping." There also will be segments featuring "Songs of Indiana," excerpts from an oral history interview on "The Lost Creek Settlement" and selected scenes from "On the Banks of the Wabash, a history living program."

There is entertainment for everyone during the celebration, according to Cinda May, project coordinator and Indiana State University assistant librarian.

The digital library's archives are equally entertaining.

"The project never ceases to amaze me with its depth and breadth, the partners and the people who support and want to be a part of this project," she said.

After being established in April 2004, the digital memory project had its coming out party in 2005 when it reached 1,000 images collected. Now after five years, more than 59,000 images contributed by 24 partners are organized into 36 collections that reside in the database.

"The mission is to provide access to the history and cultural heritage of the Wabash Valley and preserve images and documents in digital format," May explained.

Since its beginning, project members have seen it grow to include new areas they hadn't considered.

"We started out thinking of it as digital images," May said. "We've ended up with oral history and documents."

Some of the oral history is in "Pieces of Our Lives," a folk art collection project, provided by the Clinton Public Library. The collection captures the tales of people who play the accordion, make buttons and tat lace.

"We incorporate it and give it new life," May said about adding such collections to Visions and Voices.

Other collections come from an amalgamation of different sources, such as the "O Miners Awake: Indiana Coal Miners, Their Families, and Their Communities" archive. It is a collaborative digitization project involving the libraries, archives, museums, community groups of west central and south western Indiana.

To further involve individuals in that archive, the project has developed the Coal Miner's Registry. The registry will allow people to enter their families' connections to the industry; submissions become part of a searchable database.

"This is an opportunity for people in the area to participate in a large documentation project and be very connected to their history," May said.

Additionally, individuals or classes can do their own history projects and collect information that can be incorporated into Wabash Valley Visions and Voices.

"It's what characterizes us in a way," May said. "We have so many regional partners and we do regional work in a grassroots manner."

As a collaborative effort involving the libraries, museums, cultural organizations and community groups, the project provides free access to the historical and cultural memorabilia through its Web site at http://visions.indstate.edu/.

"We document what we do today so there is a record of it for tomorrow," she said.

Partners involved in Wabash Valley Visions and Voices are: Indiana State University, city of Terre Haute, Clabber Girl Museum, Coal Town and Railroad Museum, Clinton Public Library, Dugger Coal Museum, Education Heritage Association, Eugene V. Debs Collection, Eugene V. Debs Museum, Fountain County, Knox County, Knox County Public Library, Little Italy Festival Town Historic Properties, Lost Creek Grove Preservation and Restoration Foundation, Native American Museum, Parke County, Princeton Public Library, Research Center for Local History and Culture, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology Logan Library, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College Library, Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Sullivan County Historical Society, Sullivan County Public Library, Sullivan County, Town of Seelyville, Vermillion County, community of Vigo County, the Vigo County Historical Society and Vigo County Public Library.

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Contact: Cinda May, Wabash Valley Visions and Voices Digital Memory Project, project manager, at 812-237-2534 or cmay3@isugw.indstate.edu

Writer: Jennifer Sicking, Indiana State University, assistant director of media relations, at 812-237-7972 or jsicking@indstate.edu