SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

March 5, 2011

HISTORY IN THE FIRST PERSON

Ipswich event highlights oral history book project

IPSWICH — They are everyday people who raised families, cooked meals, visited friends, and went to work, church and school.

They are the very fabric of Ipswich and helped form the community as much as it formed them, Terri Unger and Lucy Myers say.

The two Ipswich residents are compiling photographs and interviews with those local people into a book, weaving a firsthand account of Ipswich's rich history, including working in its mills, farms and industry in and on the Ipswich River.

Samples from Myers and Unger's book, "People and Place: Oral Histories and Portraits of Ipswich Seniors," will be highlighted at a lunchtime event Monday at the Ipswich Museum.

Attendees are encouraged to bring their lunch — and questions and comments — to the noon event.

Monday's discussion will center around the Ipswich River and the waterway's central role in forming the town. Myers and Unger will speak about their book project, and a panel of historians will speak on town history and the river's landscape, ecology, shellfishing, boat-building and other industries.

The event is designed to be interactive, Unger said, and attendees are encouraged to ask questions and share.

"We really want to involve the community in this project," said Unger, a professional photographer.

The book profiles 30 people, all above the age of 80, who live in Ipswich and have lived the bulk of their lives in town. Unger's portraits accompany writing by Myers, a former English teacher who leads writing workshops.

"They are personal stories of the American Dream, of work and family, education and opportunity," Unger said. "How people affected Ipswich, the place, and how Ipswich affected people's lives."

The duo hope to finish production on the book and find a publisher this fall. They are producing the project with a grant from Mass Humanities, a state-based affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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