Muncie residents and Ball State students took a trip through time and visited the lives of past community members.
Cornerstone Center for the Arts held a class called "Dear Muncie: Mapping Muncie History Using 19th Century Diaries" Sept. 27 that showed community members what the struggle of dating for a Muncie woman was like, how citizens reacted to a national recession called the panic of 1893 and a woman’s experience at the Chicago World’s Fair.
Melissa Gentry, a Muncie resident who works in the map collection in Bracken Library, presented the historical diaries through a PowerPoint. The research behind the presentation took Gentry months to curate and she started researching diaries when Bracken library held an exhibit for Muncie’s 150th birthday last year.
“You have to read the diary, keep notes, keep track of historical events they talk about, things like that,” Gentry said.
In the PowerPoint, Gentry showed buildings that are still standing from the late 19th century and early 20th century. This is one of the most interesting aspects of history to her.
“I think Muncie is known for razing a lot of buildings and a lot of the history has been lost, but there is still a lot of history here,” Gentry said.
She also said one of her favorite parts about teaching classes is that it enables her to connect with Muncie’s community.
Kim McKenzie, a Muncie resident, has attended presentations in the past and came to see what else Gentry had to share. She thought the presentation was “awesome.”
“I have always learned so much from her,” she said.
McKenzie has been interested in Muncie’s history for a while and she thought the diaries made the presentation more human.
“To have the diaries [included made it] have a personal touch that some of the more dry documents don’t have,” McKenzie said.
There were several students from Ball State who attended the class to earn extra credit in their geography classes. Many ended up leaving with the feeling they learned something worthwhile.
Nick Hiott, a junior sales major, said the presentation was intriguing. He thought it was “cool” how people who lived in Muncie were impacted by major events in the past like the draft during WWII or the installation of rail lines throughout Muncie.
“It was kind of cool to see how all the old buildings were like [when they were] new,” he said.
Tarrah Huber, a freshman elementary special education major, thought the presentation was going to be boring, but afterwards she felt a bit more interested in Muncie’s history.
She thought learning about Muncie held some value because she will be living here for the next several years. Huber also liked the presentation because it wasn’t different from a normal history class.
“I thought it was cool because it’s not a basic history lesson. It was someone’s actual life,” she said.
More information on Muncie's history can be found at Ball State University’s Digital Media Repository.