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McPhersonSentinel - McPherson, KS
  • Historical society oral histories resurrected

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  • An audio history of McPherson County topics is now available to the public at the McPherson Public Library.
    Almost 230 audio programs of the McPherson County Historical Society made their debut on CDs Friday after a year-long conversion from cassette tapes. The recording project was made possible by a grant of more than $6,000 from the McPherson County Historical Society.
    The programs, spanning more than 30 years, cover a wide range of topics including industry, monumental events, weather, clubs and cities. Most topics and speakers center around McPherson County, although a few stretch those boundaries.
    “It’s just an amazing oral history,” Steve Read, library director, said. “Many of these speakers were instrumental in developing industry in various facets of the community and county, and they’re no longer here, but we’re able to hear them speak about their subjects. It’s voices in the past in their own words.”
    Researchers wouldn't have this opportunity, however, if it wasn’t for the original audio recorder, Linn Peterson, local historian and long-time president of the McPherson County Historical Society. Since the 1980s, he had recorded the programs and kept them in his basement, along with countless other pictures, newspaper clippings and other relevant information. Since his death in 2010, his wife, Mary, has worked to disperse his collections to various appropriate locations.
    “McPherson County was his love,” Mary said, who added Linn was society president for more than 20 years, McPherson County Clerk for nine years and McPherson City Clerk for 27 years. “Linn always wanted to share his knowledge. These programs are too good to let them die. He would be very pleased.”
    Read said he expects the CDs to be well-used by many. Although views of history change over time, he said the recordings will keep the facts straight.
    “These stories are all of our stories, really,” Read said.
    A list of topics can be obtained from the library or by visiting the library’s website at http://www.macpl.org/.
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