Celebrate Your Local History Group This Tax Season

J. McCauley Brown at the 2018 Kentucky Local History Trust Fund grant presentation.

By Mac Brown, 2nd vice president, KHS Governing Board
 (adapted from his Local History Trust Fund presentation_1/9/18)

Some might find this ironic, but nevertheless it’s a fact: History institutions are all about the future, as they’re constantly answering questions about who we are, what we stand for and where we’re going. With a greater knowledge of history, we can fully appreciate the difficulties and the opportunities that lie ahead.

And for most of us, history starts at home.

Kentucky has more than 300 local history organizations operating in towns, cities and counties across the Commonwealth. These groups tell us unique and powerful stories about Kentucky’s past. From historic homes to county historical societies, every day our local history organizations convey the power and the importance of place to their patrons – whether they are longtime county residents or one-time visitors — through exhibits, collections, education programs and community engagement.

You can go to them to find the answers to important questions, as at some point in time we’ve likely already dealt with a similar issue. How we reacted back then can help us gain an idea of what’s happening today and to fashion our responses accordingly. Local history groups are also the first step in helping us connect to regional, national and international events by highlighting the contributions that local individuals and events made in creating the society in which we live.

They also help us see that anyone can make a difference.

When I stop and think about what is local history, and how did I get interested in it, I remember as a 6-year-old child standing by my grandmother’s desk. She was an avid genealogist studying my family tree, but more importantly, she was translating my family history. She had inherited documents passed down from the 1700s so was able to show me letters from her grandparents and books that her grandmother, Mary Rogers Clay, had written.

I became fascinated.

I have since learned that our family history is really a collection of all our experiences. This is who we are.

Local history institutions play a similar role to the family genealogist – they are the embodiment of the experiences of society. Local history, done well and with passion, is very powerful. It tells us who we were and who we still could be. It helps us understand the world we occupy every day.

Local history tells our stories in the places we live and work, and allows us to connect to the experiences of those who came before us.

I truly want to thank all of our local history groups for the work you have done to show the power of history, and in doing so, for the dedication you have shown to your communities.

(Editor’s Note: As you prepare your tax return, consider donating part or all of your state income tax refund to the Local History Trust Fund and support local history in Kentucky. Find more information.)

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