While attending the National Trust Conference in Indianapolis, I had the pleasure to meet Julia Bache, a high school student who recently completed a successful National Register nomination as part of her Girl Scout Gold Award, and presented at the conference. She is delightful and quite impressive! At Julia’s age, I had not heard of historic preservation and here she is already writing National Register nominations. It’s so encouraging to hear high school students are interested in the field. I asked Julia if she’d be willing to share her story with Preservation in Pink readers. Below is her guest post. (Of course, I recommended the University of Mary Washington’s Historic Preservation program to them).
By Julia Bache
I was so excited to meet Kaitlin at the National Trust Conference in Indianapolis a few weeks ago! I have enjoyed following her posts here on Preservation in Pink and am honored to share my preservation efforts with you!
Julia Bache and Kaitlin O’Shea in Indianapolis, pictured at a display in the conference expo hall.
At the conference, I spoke about the Rosenwald Schools and about how to engage youth in historic preservation. I also learned from other speakers and met many inspirational preservationists. Kaitlin and the other professionals showed me that historic preservation is something that we can always take part in, putting out talents and passion to work!
Julia presenting at the National Trust for Historic Preservation conference in Indianapolis, 2013.
As a sophomore in high school, I was ready to begin my Girl Scout Gold Award Project. Scanning the web for possible projects, I found a nomination form for a Rosenwald School that had just been listed on the National Register. Reading this form, I knew that I wanted to help preserve these endangered sites for my Gold Award project.
Buck Creek School, the subject of Julia’s NR nomination.
I decided to nominate a Rosenwald School in my area, the Buck Creek School. I began diving into the remarkable history of the Rosenwald Schools. I read about the builders of these schools, Julius Rosenwald and Booker T. Washington, and how they teamed up with so many communities to provide children with better education.
Julia conducting an oral history interview for historical research.
I was amazed to find that over 5,000 Rosenwald Schools were built in 15 southern states, serving about one-third of the African American students in the south. They set new standards for African American education by providing nicer facilities, dedicated teachers, and a longer school term. I found it incredible that Rosenwald and Washington were able to break the racial barrier during the Jim Crow era to start this program and improve the education for so many children.
After writing the NR form, I presented the nomination to the Kentucky Historic Preservation Review Board. In March 2013, the Buck Creek School was officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places!
Julia’s presentation at the Kentucky Historic Preservation Review Board.
I wanted to do more to educate the public about the need to preserve the Rosenwald Schools. As the second phase of my Gold Award Project, I created a traveling museum exhibition to share the Rosenwald Schools’ history. My traveling exhibition has been displayed in museums, historical societies, and public libraries across the state and will continue to tour into my senior year.
Julia in front of her Rosenwald School exhibition.
My project has taught me that people from varied backgrounds can come together through a common love of history and make a difference by preserving it for the future.
Thank you, Julia. You are an inspiration; I hope there are many students like you. Readers, are you a youth in preservation with a story to share (or do you know any)? I’d love to hear about your passion and projects.