Preserving (and presenting) History on the Internet
School students -- and everyone else, for that matter -- had the opportunity to see the Reed Farmstead production on the Internet during the spring of 2000. But before we take a trip into the 1800's with the Reed family, let's take a look at how we are exploring the past through the technology of today.
When the West Virginia Division of Highways decides to undergo the process of selecting the path for a new road, there are several steps that must be addressed according to federal regulations. One of these steps is to excavate the path of the road every 50 feet in areas identified as potential archaeological sites. A small hole is dug and archaeologists extract soil and objects to determine if the property contains any items of historical significance.
If something of significance is found, additional holes are dug to determine the area's value.
In the case of Reed Farmstead, an old farm occupied by relatively poor farmers was found and determined to be almost 200 years old. In order for historians to learn more about these people and how they lived, a team of archaeologists was brought in to "uncover" their past.
The West Virginia Division of Highways believes it is important to show the public the steps that were taken to uncover this find. Without the painstakingly detailed process of digging at certain intervals, the Reed Farmstead would never have been found.
A video crew joined archaeologists on the site October 21 to preserve in pictures the nineteenth century home of the Reed and Garrett families. From the video filmed that day, the West Virginia Division of Highways produced the Reed Farmstead video, that could be viewed by simply clicking on the Reed Video link in the side bar, for every interested junior high, middle school, and high school classroom in the state.
While it was on the Internet, of course, it was available to every Internet surfer around the world.
The program shows the excavated sites of six locations, including two homes. The archaeologists explain how they go about their work, and how they reach conclusions about the lives of these early West Virginians. They show a series of artifacts from the site, everything from Civil War items to material left in the area by Native Americans as much as five thousand years ago.
Mother Nature cooperated spectacularly for the program. The taping was accomplished under clear, blue skies with a brilliant sun shining on the multi-colored fall foliage surrounding the Reed Farmstead. "It is simply remarkable that we could tape the material for a major 40-minute Internet event in just one day. Everything fell into place perfectly, including the weather," said program producer Pat Gallagher of Charles Ryan Associates. "We had twenty people meshing their efforts so efficiently that we completed shooting in eight hours."
The program features the people who did the actual work to explore the home and lifestyle of the people who lived on this Hardy County land beginning almost two hundred years ago. The archaeological team from engineering consultant Michael Baker, Jr., Inc., was led by Katry Harris. She was interviewed for the program along with archaeologists Stephen Hinks, Jonathan Glenn and Elizabeth Oliver. Another element of the program was videotaped at the Baker laboratory in Pittsburgh, featuring lab manager Gina Hart and historian Ed Siemon.
Also on site for the production was Hardy County School Superintendent Ron Wetzel. Teachers and students from Hardy County were on hand to observe the archaeology dig and the video production.
Former Governor Cecil H. Underwood introduces the program. West Virginia State Highway Engineer Joe Deneault and Susan Pierce, state historical preservation officer, explain the state's interest in preserving this historical site along the Corridor H right-of-way. The host for the program is Bos Johnson, former Huntington-Charleston television news director.
For a fun interactive look at Reed Farmstead for school age children, please click on this link: www.kidsdigreed.com.
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