The Sparks Museum & Cultural Center is showcasing history in motion with the Living History Project. Digitizing family photos and memories shared by the people of Sparks, the museum hosted a free event last Saturday, March 4, to bring together the community and spotlight Sparks’ history.
About 70 people attended the event and around 20 residents brought in artifacts. “I thought people would bring in three pieces, but they came in with boxes of things,” says Sparks Museum Executive Director Kelly Reis. At least 15 people also went on camera to share stories about the significance of their artifacts and stories about Sparks. Contributors also had the opportunity to go on camera and give an oral history of their experiences in Sparks.
“One guy talked about how his house was moved from California to Sparks- it was taken apart piece by piece and transported through the railroad, then rebuilt,” says Reis. She said that one person brought in a ticket from an 1886 dance in Sparks- the resident’s great-grandfather invited his great-grandmother to the dance but then got sick and couldn’t attend, so the ticket was still intact.
Reis’ favorite artifact was a photo of the Sparks Bootery, probably taken in the 1950’s era. “It looked like a food truck- it was a van that went around and measured people’s feet and sold boots. I had no idea that existed,” she says.
The museum’s Living History Project acts to create an educational resource for future generations by scanning memorabilia that is significant to the history of Sparks and included in the museum’s digital archive. Archivists, historians, and members of the museum’s board were available to give advice on preserving family photos and participants also received a copy of their digitized items on a flash drive.
A museum staff member who attended the Living History Project event said that the people who went to the event were excited to be there and she even met a girl who attended Sparks High School the same time that she did years ago. She said that she hopes the museum hosts another event like this.
Reis added that the museum will take the artifacts received and create an exhibit to be displayed in early April. She adds that the museum hopes to keep the Living History Project going by revisiting this idea every quarter.