Caroline Ralston gives presentation on Wednesday, Jan. 11 on how to find and use historical records to discover more about the lives of the players featured in an 1890 photograph of the local Forestville baseball team.
Great Falls My experience with the Great Falls Historical Society (GFHS) began the summer of 2015. I had just finished my first year at the University of Mary Washington and was looking for an internship to gain experience in my field of study. My love of history and archives led me to the Society, where I began an internship researching the history of Colvin Run, as well as some of the area’s historic homes for a National Register of Historic Places application. Completing my internship with GFHS not only made me feel more connected with Great Falls (I’ve lived here my entire life), it also exposed me to deed research, working with microfiche, and working with primary source documents. These skills were invaluable in my classes the next fall and truly strengthened my research skills. Getting real-world experience through this internship provided me with the confidence to apply for scholarships, and the connections I made while interning have really made a difference for me. When it came time for department scholarship applications in the spring, I applied for and received the Milton Grigg Northern Virginia APVA Scholarship by the NoVA Chapter of Preservation Virginia. I believe that the time I spent interning with GFHS the summer before was an important factor in my application that helped me stand out from others.
Fast forward to summer 2016, when I was invited to join the GFHS Board of Directors as their Co-Chair of Communications, Public Relations, and Website. My time on the board has given me an inside look at how historical societies, and boards in general, operate. As Co-Chair of my committee division, I’ve worked with a webmaster to learn how to develop and maintain our website, and now, I keep the site up- to- date with our latest events, news, and research links.
Our latest program, a research challenge called “The 1890s Baseball Team: What History Reveals,” has allowed me to share all of the skills I’ve acquired from my internship and from my classes in college with individuals who are interested in history too. On Jan. 11, 2017, I gave a presentation explaining how to find and use historical records to discover more about the lives of the players featured in an 1890 photograph of the local Forestville baseball team. This program, while open to anyone, is targeted towards middle and high school students to engage young people in history and introduce them to what GFHS is all about. It has been very fulfilling to engage in the community through programs like our baseball research challenge. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to intern with and sit on the Board of Directors for the Great Falls Historical Society. I look forward to continuing my work with the society and seeing what the future brings for our community.
This 1890s Baseball Team challenge to make a player come alive through research program, while open to anyone, is targeted towards middle and high school students who have a genuine love of history. Four students have signed up so far - one from Whitman High School in Maryland who has been doing genealogy research since he was 6 years old; a, gifted one young man in sixth grade who loves history and baseball; and two others. We are reaching out to our community to identify six more gifted young historians who could benefit from a history challenge that will connect him with good research techniques and a lot of support from GFHS members and others devoted to local history. I know that participants will feel what I have felt - that engaging in the community through programs like our baseball team research challenge is a great learning experience that is fun and insightful. The young man who has been doing genealogy for years actually found some sources that he did not know about that will make his research much more productive in the years ahead.
Caroline Ralston attends University of Mary Washington, Class of ‘2018, and is a member of the Great Falls Historical Society Board.