DOTHAN - Preserving the past is vital for the future.
Those were the sentiments expressed by Dothan resident Mary Eddins last Saturday at one of two community-focused archiving events put on by Troy University's Wiregrass Archives as part of the Wiregrass Common Heritage Project.
Eddins and other Wiregrass residents brought in about 130 family pictures and documents to scan during the two Community Scanning Days, one held June 18 at the downtown branch of the Dothan Houston County Library and the other held June 25 at Landmark Park.
"We were working with three families – my husband's, mine and ours," said Eddins, who attended the scanning event at Landmark Park. "There's a picture of my grandfather's house, which is 100 years old. We have a lot of pictures that have relatives of my husband's sister, and we're going to put them in an album for her. She is now in a condition where she enjoys looking at them, and that helps her to remember things."
Among the items brought were a 1967 yearbook from Riverside Heights High School in Geneva County, a segregated African-American school, and a scrapbook of more than 200 African-American funeral programs, all from members of one church in Geneva County.
Eddins said programs like the Wiregrass Common Heritage Project are important not just for the individuals who participate, but for future generations.
"(Project co-director) Dr. Marty Olliff is going to have (these items) in the archives at Troy Dothan, so in the future, other people who may develop an interest in local history will have access to the pictures," she said. "It's not for us, it's for the future. It sounded interesting and worthwhile for our family to pass on pictures."
Olliff said the project has been an important one for the preservation of Wiregrass history.
"The Wiregrass Common Heritage Project has made some important first steps in documenting the family histories that make up the larger history of this region," he said. "The project's home, the Wiregrass Archives, now has a pool of over 300 photographs and documents to share with local, regional, state, national, and international researchers through both the Archives' website and the Alabama Mosaic website."
And though the scanning days have passed, the project is not done yet.
Later this summer, Olliff and project co-director Dr. Robert Saunders will present a short history of the project and display many of the most important images submitted. This event will be free and open to the public.
The Wiregrass Archives will continue to offer occasional Community Scanning Days under the auspices of the Wiregrass Common Heritage Project and invites community organizations, such as neighborhood groups, family reunions, churches, nonprofits, schools, businesses and others, to conduct their own scanning days. Archives staff will provide equipment, training and supervision.
The Wiregrass Common Heritage Project has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the Human Endeavor.
Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this project do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.