Thursday, August 13, 2009

Piecing Together History

Sometimes history can be really fun.

Here at the LHS we're preparing for our upcoming exhibit comparing life in Laurel in 1910 and in 2010.

The inspiration for this exhibit is a series of photographs taken by Bert Sadler. The images he produced depict life in Laurel in the early 1900s and are really wonderful. One of those pictures is here on the right. This image of the Emancipation Day parade in the early 1900s shows a vibrant community event.

Other than this picture and some articles from the Laurel leader within the last 20 years, I didn't know much about the Emancipation Day parade tradition in Laurel.

Then I went and spoke to Miss Katie Hopkins. Boy, did I learn a lot!

As I related in a previous post, Miss Katie told me all about life in Laurel growing up 100 years ago. She told me of Emancipation celebrations that lasted for long weekends where out-of-towners were able to visit and stay with members of the St. Mark's church.

What a great story! I was so excited to hear about how much of a community event the Emancipation Celebration was. Miss Katie, as sharp as she is at a ripe 102, was able to tell me details of the celebration--baseball games, parades, barbeques.

I was excited to hear her recount her stories, but I really wanted to know even more--what exactly happened during those early fall celebrations?

Imagine my excitement when Frieda, a member of our exhibits committee brought to my attention newspaper articles from the 1910 Laurel Leader. Listed in them were a number of various events taking place in the Grove--all during the same weekend in early September. The same weekend that was always reserved for the Emancipation Celebration.

Here, in black and white, was the vibrant celebration that Miss Katie had told me about and that was depicted in Bert Sadler's image.

I was very excited to see all these clues fall into place!

Now for the fun part--piecing this story into the larger story of Laurel in 1910 and in 2010!

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