The History Harvest project stands out as the most rewarding class I participated in during college. Though challenging at times, it changed how I had been taught to learn about history. The History Harvest taught me that history can be hands-on and collaborative.
While the whole year was full of learning and growth, two memories really stand out in my mind and I think they exemplify what the History Harvest is and what it can grow to be.
The first occurred while our class was working with the archives of the Great Plains Black History Museum. We were reorganizing and preserving some photographs when I came across an old picture of an African-American couple in a park. Out of curiosity, I checked the back of the photograph and learned that it had been taken in my hometown of Alliance, Nebraska. This discovery made me think. I was hoping to challenge and help create a new narrative in North Omaha, but I had never really stopped to think about a possibility of a diverse history in my own town. I realized that I had been taking my own town’s history for granted and mistakenly believing it to be a homogeneous and primarily White history. The photograph gave me a new perspective on the misconceptions about North Omaha’s history, and the racial history of Nebraska, more generally.
Another favorite memory came from the day of the History Harvest. Towards the end of the day I was sitting with other students discussing how the event had gone. Everyone confessed that they were thinking about how awesome it would be for the History Harvest project to come to their hometown. It just goes to show that anyone who sees how this project works will understand how important it is and how rewarding it is to be involved. Hopefully this means that the History Harvest has many advocates that will help it grow and succeed in the future. I feel like it will always affect how I think about learning and teaching history. I think it has the potentially to change how a lot of people learn and teach history.
Jessi Hare was an undergraduate student in the North Omaha History Harvest course held at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in the Fall 2011 semester.