RAHS highlights WW1 in new program

The Rockford Area Historical Society (RAHS) continues to expand the program offerings available, focusing this year on the First World War and historical gardening practices.

The RAHS, which operates the historic Ames-Florida-Stork House in Rockford, has chosen to commemorate the upcoming anniversary of WWI by mining the collection of diaries and letters left by the Stork family. Courtesy of a Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage Grant, the RAHS can take the lifestyle information contained in the daily entries of these documents and place the Stork family experience within a state and national context for this world event.

This research will form lectures, held on the second Saturday of February, March, April, and May in the Lion’s Building in Rockford. A discussion and questions session will occur following the presentations. People with photos and family information in their possession are invited to bring these items for others to view, thus beginning a conversation of a common experience.

In conjunction with these lectures, the RAHS will complete the digitization and transcription of 11 diaries, written by Florence and Clinton Stork, with the Minnesota Digital Library (MDL) and Minnesota Reflections. Last year, the 14 of the Stork diaries and five photographs were accepted into the program, and can currently be viewed in their entirety online by visiting www.minnesotarefelctions.org and searching for the Rockford Area Historical Society.

By placing these original documents online, the RAHS is increasing public access to its otherwise hidden collections. The information contained in these documents can be used for school projects, academic research, or personal inquiry.

In keeping with the WWI focus, the RAHS also plans to pursue funding to create a website for high school teachers across the state to use when discussing the war with their students during these anniversary years (2014-2018). Linked to this web site would be the adult presentations, a newly created middle school curriculum (funded by a grant from the Children First program, District 883), and the digitized documents on the MDL.

Additionally, the gardening and sustainable lifestyle programming begun last year has grown to include plots throughout the city of Rockford. Sites to rent space will include Our Fathers Lutheran Church, Riverwood Covenant Church, Rockford Middle School, and municipal locations. Applications and additional information will be available through the RAHS in the spring.

Classes held throughout the spring and summer will help gardeners decide what to plant, how to maintain their plots, and options for their produce during harvest ranging from canning and freezing to donating it to the RiverWorks food shelf. A program in June on Victory and Liberty Gardens during wartime will tie together the two focuses this year.

The RAHS is a non-profit organization that operates the Ames-Florida-Stork House, a home on the National Register of Historic Places, built in 1860 by the original settlers of the Rockford area. For further information, or to sign up for any of the activities, please contact the RAHS at 763-477-5383 or storkhouse@cityofrockford.org.

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