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Hammond native begins online oral history archive for the north country

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HAMMOND — A Hammond native is hoping to preserve the north country’s historical memory online with an oral history archive created as part of her doctoral research.

Noel Thistle Tague, a 2004 graduate of Hammond Central School who is pursuing a doctoral degree in rhetoric and composition at the University of Pittsburgh, said she hopes her project will help residents feel proud of their regional heritage.

“There is a cultural memory of the ‘good old days,’ and that shapes how people view the place now,” she said. “Overall my feeling is that in these small rural towns where we don’t have a lot of hope for economic recovery, history is really important to us.”

Ms. Tague said she is hoping to begin collecting stories for the online archive this summer.

She said she wants to partner with libraries and museums to reach as many people as possible.

“It’s a very personal project,” Ms. Tague said. “I’ve always been interested in memory and history.”

Ms. Tague, daughter of James Tague and Laurie Thistle, said that as a child growing up in Hammond she explored the empty shells of abandoned homes and was fascinated with the vacant storefronts that dotted the town.

“I felt like I always grew up with the remnants of this other time around me,” she said.

Ms. Tague said it was only after moving away from home for college that she came to recognize the north country’s historic legacy.

Urban areas often have a more comprehensive, accessible historical record that gives residents a sense of place, Ms. Tague said.

Ms. Tague said she hopes to build a similar collection of historical data for the north country to give residents a deeper sense of connection with the past.

With that knowledge, Ms. Tague said, she believes “you can come to respect it more.”

Ms. Tague said she envisions a long-term project. Once she gets the ball rolling, she hopes to give the project over to local museums and libraries to carry on.

The project, however, is still in its infancy, and Ms. Tague said she is seeking funding sources and determining a timeline.

To start, she plans to focus on Hammond, Alexandria Bay, Morristown and the Ogdensburg area, and add other communities when possible.

Anyone interested in contributing stories can email Ms. Tague at netague@gmail.com or call 783-9281.

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