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University Professor and students take part in major local history project

Saturday, 25 October 2008

A University of Maine at Presque Isle History professor and her students are participating in a $10,000 Maine Historical Society grant project meant to preserve the history of the City of Presque Isle while promoting local partnerships that explore and celebrate local history.

Dr. Kim Sebold and her history students are working with several community partners, including SAD 1, the Presque Isle Historical Society, and the Mark and Emily Turner Memorial Library, on a Maine Community Heritage Project. The Maine Historical Society awarded grants to 8 Maine communities including Presque Isle - 50 applied - for this first-of-its-kind project designed to foster the study of local Maine history and strong community partnerships.

As part of the Presque Isle project, team members will digitize historic source materials and place them on the Maine Memory Network - the Maine Historical Society's nationally recognized statewide digital museum - as well as write a 3,000-word overview history of the town, create five or more online exhibits about the community's history, and create a website of local history within the Maine Memory Network.

An especially exciting part of Presque Isle's Community Heritage Project is the educational collaboration happening between UMPI and SAD 1. Dr. Kim Sebold and her history students are spending time during the fall semester working with students from Presque Isle Middle School's History Club, led by Gail Hagelstein, the middle school's media specialist. Most recently, students participated in a special scavenger hunt at the Fairmont Cemetery on Main Street, learning about the interesting and historically significant information that can be found in a local cemetery. In future classes, Dr. Sebold and her class will teach students how to research family history and use tools such as www.ancestry.com.

"What we're doing is a mentoring program that allows young people to gain a better appreciation of local history," Sebold said. "In fact, we think this is such an important thing to teach local kids, that we're planning to make this an annual collaboration that goes beyond our one-year Community Heritage Project."

While the work with Presque Isle Middle School students is expected to last through December, Dr. Sebold and her students will continue working with other local team members on other projects through June, including efforts to preserve the area's oral history. Presque Isle's Community Heritage Project will culminate in a celebration that opens the work to the public.

For more information about the Maine Community Heritage Project, visit the Maine Memory Network at www.mainememory.net/mchp.