The second annual Historical Summit will take place Saturday, beginning at 9 a.m. at the Saline County Courthouse in Benton.
Coordinator Jenny Carlisle with Saline County Preservation said she wants to bring together other groups within the city and the county and get them talking to each other.
“These are people archiving important information about hometown and county,” she said. “We want them to come together and share resources and ideas.”
Each group will have about five minutes to talk about its family or organization and what it is doing to keep the past alive. Last year, Carlisle said, about 10 people attended the event, but organizers are expecting a much larger group this year.
“It was a good start,” she said, “but we have added three members to our organization, and the public is more aware of it.
“So we got the word out, and it should be successful.”
Saline County Preservation acts as an umbrella group for all the historical groups, Carlisle said, assisting with grants and helping other organizations get funding. Currently, the organization is trying to help get a monument placed at Veterans Plaza in Benton for a medal-of-honor recipient.
Maj. Oscar Miller of Bryant died during World War I in France and is buried there. Carlisle said she hopes to get some sort of recognition in his home county for his service.
“So we want to get that funded. That’s our goal right now,” Carlisle said. “We are trying to get the public acquainted with it and get them interested.”
In years past, Saline County Preservation helped replace the historical markers around the city of Benton and repaired them.
Carlisle said there will also be old-fashioned games for kids to play.
David Elmore, a member of the Saline County Historical and Heritage Society and Saline County Preservation, will be on hand to discuss the importance of oral history.
He has been involved in oral-history projects for the Arkansas Educational Television Network, conducting more than 600 interviews all over the state, as well as oral-history workshops.
“When I do those interviews, we couldn’t always get to everybody that we wanted to interview,” Elmore said, “so I was determined to teach people to use the equipment they have and conduct interviews of their own.”
Elmore said that with today’s technology, almost everyone has a camcorder or a tape recorder or can record video with a smartphone.
“And they can use that technology to interview anybody they feel has a good story, so we can learn how they lived and how they survived throughout their lifetime,” Elmore said. “I want to encourage people to find out how to do oral histories and go out and do them.”
He currently does not have any workshops scheduled and plans to speak only for a few minutes at the summit, but he just wants to use that time to emphasize the importance of recording history.
“The guys down in the trenches who did the actual fighting — there is not much records of them,” Elmore said. “We want to know how the general public live. How did they get through it all?”
He said his current focus is on those who survived the Cold War.
“We want to ask them basic questions, to get people to talk about their lives and how they lived them,” he said. “It is not enough to do the oral history, but we also need to find a way to preserve it.
“We want to encourage people to use local institutions or libraries or universities. They will take oral histories so they are not just kept inside a family. We want people to make lots of copies and distribute it to their families and preserve it in a public area as well.”
Former Benton Mayor Lynn Moore will be this year’s special guest. He will dress up as William Lockhart, the founder of the first settlement at Saline Crossing, and will discuss what life in the county was like.
Also in attendance this year will be John Archibald, the editor of Ouachita Life magazine, and a representative from the Royal Theatre in downtown Benton.
“We have also recently partnered with the Gann Museum and have helped them out over the past year,” Carlisle said. “They will be there, as well as members of the Saline County History and Heritage group.”
For more information, call (501) 249-0009 or visit the Saline County Preservation page on Facebook.
Staff writer Sam Pierce can be reached at (501) 244-4314 or email@example.com.
Print Headline: Annual event in Benton to help preserve past