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Personal histories as valuable as buildings

As many of you may be able to relate to, I sat at the computer one afternoon and found myself going down a research rabbit hole. In search for some tourist data, I found myself fascinated with the Getty Research Institute’s article on Flap Books. (You can check it out on YouTube. Flap Book Gives a Lesson in Human Dissection. And yes, I realize I just shared too much information on what I find fascinating!)

However, that wasn’t the bottom of the rabbit hole for me that afternoon. Further exploring the special collections page of Getty’s research, I fell in love with the oral histories of so many talented and skilled architects, artists and collectors of visual arts. There are more than 1,000 oral histories, videos, transcripts and recordings that make up these firsthand accounts now documented. What incredible work that is so important for future learning, retrospect and captured viewpoints direct from the subject’s mouth.

Losing my parents when they were fairly young, 67 and 73 years old, I have found myself often wishing I had taken the time to record them when talking about old stories of themselves growing up. They truly lived Boulder City’s history, which today I find so valuable and insightful. I love it when one of their friends that they graduated with (Boulder City High School class of ’62) shares with me a story about Dad on the football field or Mom working at Broadbent’s Drug Store.

Boulder City residents value our history and strive to preserve buildings and architectural features in our community. I am suggesting that our people and the history of their lives are just as important for us to document, relate and preserve.

The Boulder City Museum and Historical Association has been entrusted with many artifacts, photographs, files and books over the years and is an excellent resource for anyone looking for information on Hoover Dam and the town that built it. We may have our own personal journals, family photos, scrapbooks and genealogical records — all so important for sharing with the next generations.

I have the distinct honor of being able to interview Erma M. Hall on Friday on The Best Dam Podcast at I and I Studios here in Boulder City. The mother of Roger Hall and Kathy Flannery, she is an amazing woman who has contributed so much to America and is a true icon for all of us to treasure, especially young women as they realize the value of being a female in today’s world.

Her ingenuity and tenacity, coupled with her courage and patriotism, will prove to be a powerful lesson to her posterity and beyond. At age 93, she has seen so much that many of us only read or hear about. I am so looking forward to being in the studio with someone so phenomenal and inspiring to record a little synopsis of her life and times.

Preserving these essential voices doesn’t require a recording studio, fancy equipment or even predetermined interview questions. It can simply be done with the use of apps on our phones while sitting at the family dinner table or from the comfort of a favorite rocking chair. Any opportunity we might find ourselves with learning from those of wisdom in our lives is worth the time and effort to hit record and capture in their voice the major events that shaped who they are today.

So, while we are exploring better ways to protect and preserve historically significant structures that surround us here in Boulder City, let’s remember that those structures were built by the hands of those that came before us. They too are worth our efforts in preserving their history and allow us to have a more well-rounded view of the past, present and all our futures.

Jill-Rowland Lagan, CEO of the Boulder City Chamber of Commerce, is the third of four generations in Boulder City. She loves cooking, jet skiing and hanging out with her family. Her personal motto is “A diamond is merely a lump of coal that did well under pressure.”

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