“History must be imagined before it can be understood.” (Historian David Blight)
History colleague John Pellowski and I first began discussing the concept of a local history project in 2000. How could we bring a greater awareness of our local history into our classes? How do communities grapple with and understand their own history? From the outset, the goal of these projects has been to explore local and regional history through authentic interaction with available sources, including a heavy emphasis on oral history when possible. As an introduction, I researched the life of Mitchell Red Cloud, Jr., BRFHS graduate and Medal of Honor recipient from the Korean Conflict. Beyond his gallant and tragic story, I wanted to explore his memory within the community. The plaque pictured here was originally displayed at the High School on Third Street, which over time became the Junior High and then Elementary School. In recent years, it has become part of our “shared history” wall at BRFHS. We have partnered with Jackson County History Room Director Mary Woods from the beginning and have utilized the resources held at the History Room at the Public Library for most of the projects. In addition, our intention, from the start, has been to develop an archive for future history students and community members. Through 2022, we have completed 20 projects, had 23 interns, and conducted over 90 interviews.