Preserving a special time in history… EHS librarian receives $10,000 grant to create Douglas School archive

Published 2:36 pm Friday, February 18, 2022

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Thanks to a $10,000 ARP grant, the memory of Douglas School will be around for future generations.
Elizabethton High School librarian Dustin Hensley applied for the grant which will go towards supporting paid internships this summer to help collect and document the history of the Douglas School for the EHS Archives in the School Library. The school was an important part of Elizabethton prior to 1965.
“The  two interns over the summer will work to collect history and hopefully artifacts about Douglas School,” Hensley said. “They will be working with Black in Appalachia and Joe Penza at the library to conduct interviews.
“It’s not just for the school it’s for the whole community. It was such a large part of our history in our area that we know so little about because we have like very little records left from the school so anything that we can get to preserve that history and let future generations know that this was what life was like in Carter County for those people during this time period. I think that is really important.”
Two hundred libraries each will receive a $10,000 grant through ALA’s American Rescue Plan: Humanities Grants for Libraries opportunity.
“Libraries have faced significant hardships throughout the pandemic —from budget cuts to staff furloughs to building closures — especially in our communities of the greatest need,” said ALA President Patty Wong. “This crucial support from NEH will enable our beloved institutions, and the dedicated people who run them, to rebuild and emerge from the pandemic stronger than ever.”
Hensley said it was not only important to collect the archives for the school but for the City of Elizabethton and Black in Appalachia for their online archives.
A date will be set soon for an event that will be hosted hopefully in the Douglas community for people to come and have their interviews conducted and to collect artifacts.
“If anyone has any type of information or artifacts, we will definitely take that now. Over the summer is when we will have the two interns here to coordinate all of that,” said Hensley.
“We have a digital archive here but we are also working on creating a physical archive in the library … I have students that are working with me to help organize that now so we have a lot of school history, local history, sports history, and things like that. We want to have something specifically for Douglas School as part of our collection.”
Hensley said he has been working to get the archive room set up for a couple of years as he filtered through the school’s collection. During that period is when he discovered a need to build the Douglas School archive.
“The Douglas School was around for decades and that is something we didn’t have in the collection,” said Hensley. “I have been wanting to do something to get the collection and in talking to Joe Penza at the library he didn’t have much there either. We want to understand the history and preserve it as we move forward.”

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