Thursday, June 14, 2012

Let's try this again.

I found myself with no time to blog during the entirety of the last school year, for which I will blame mostly the pain I feel at having to try to understand STATISTICS, along with the fact that I basically did nothing of interest for an entire year aside from study and do school work. Such is the life of a a 30-something student.

However, now I am settled in at my internship at the Miami County Museum in Peru, Indiana. Peru is a cute little town which is known for having been the wintering quarters of several circuses in the early 1900s, the birthplace of Cole Porter, as well as being the headquarters of the Miami Nation of Indiana. The people are friendly and the museum itself is a wonderful place so far.

One project I have begun to dig into is developing an exhibit about the 1913 flood. I did not know anything about the event until I began working here, and reading about the extent of the devastation that occurred, as well as being a history buff, I am somewhat embarrassed about this seeing as I am originally from Columbus, Ohio, which was also hit hard by the flood.

One thing that this brought to mind was how easily history can be forgotten. This flood has been called by many the greatest natural disaster that ever hit the Midwest. It seems important to me that events like this not be forgotten, but why not? Don't we have enough clutter in our brains already without having to think about 100-year-old weather events?

I suppose this is part of why I love museums. They allow us the chance to learn about and talk about these kinds of events, keeping them within our collective memories in a way that encourages dialogue and interaction. In reading about this flood I can't help but compare it to other natural disasters in recent memory, such as Hurricane Katrina, and think about how much more difficult it must have been in 1913 -- limited phone access, no planes, no FEMA. Then, as now, there are a lot of incredible stories of heroism, individuals with boats working tirelessly to rescue their neighbors and sharing their homes -- as well as more discouraging stories of looting homes and stealing supplies which called to mind a topic I researched last year concerning the theft of aid money from Katrina victims by call center employees.

I'm hoping to be able to scan some of the images for the exhibit and to share what I find as I go along. One resource I found while researching the flood is that there exists a website called has Allan Eckert's out-of-print and difficult-to-find historical fiction novel A Time of Terror, set in Dayton during the time of the flood, available for free. You know, in case you want to study up along with me.