‘Tell us your story’

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Bloomfield taking part in city history project

By Kacie Goode

A small group in Bloomfield is looking to talk to residents who are knowledgeable about the area and its past as the city takes part in a pilot program to help towns collect and share their histories for future generations to enjoy.

“We’re just getting started,” said Anne Martin, who is helping facilitate Bloomfield’s project.

The Cities Stories project is a collaboration of the Kentucky League of Cities and the University of Kentucky Nunn Center for Oral History. The cities selected for the pilot group, which include Bloomfield, Newport and Lawrenceburg, among others, will help create a model for other communities to use when developing their own history projects.

“I think it’s an honor Bloomfield was picked out of so many applicants,” said Janet Graves, who is also helping with the project. Graves and Martin are both members of the Bloomfield City Council, which is how they first learned about the opportunity.

Martin, Graves and Tim Ballard recently attended training in Lexington led by Nunn Center Director Doug Boyd, where they learned more about how to get the project started. The Nunn Center has provided the city project leaders with recording equipment on loan at no cost.

“There’s so many topics to choose from,” such as churches, schools, veterans, businesses and homes, Martin said. “For us, it’s about putting the puzzle together.”

Graves is focused on identifying sources for agriculture as well as the black community.

“A lot of people of color, they’ve not felt open enough to even put their stories out there, and they are a big part of the history, too,” Graves said. “I think everybody’s history should have a voice.”

To start, the project will consist of oral histories and the recordings from area sources will be gifted to the Nunn Center. But the cities may also choose to incorporate video, photos or written histories in their own projects.

“We can make this as big or as small as we want,” Martin said, adding that it could be possible for area students to help with the project as it develops.

While the Bloomfield team hasn’t conducted any interviews yet, they have a few sources lined up and hope to incorporate the project in the city’s bicentennial, which will take place in February 2019.

Graves said there are many in the area who can contribute to telling the city’s history, a history that might otherwise go untold or be lost if it weren’t for a project such as this.

A Gmail account has been created for those with potential stories to reach out to project leaders. Emails can be sent to bloomfieldcitystoriesproject@gmail.com. They also plan to promote the project on social media.

“The history we get now is just the starting point,” and something to build upon for years, Martin said.