Don’t Be Left Out of the Next 200 Years of History

Each of us, no matter how small our footprint on the world may seem, has a unique story to tell. Our actions each day, the decisions we make, the relationships we keep all have a way of echoing throughout the ages, our time spent in one place lingering on like fingerprints on a clean window, reminders that the streets and neighborhoods we occupy now were occupied once before.

In Manchester, the past is never really that far away. To walk through any given neighborhood is to be surrounded by those fingerprints left by the generations that came before us. One needs only to stroll along the Hocknum River to follow in the footsteps of the original inhabitants of this land. The Podunk people, who made their lives along the banks of the river and its tributaries, would regularly fish from the waters that run through what is now Center Springs Park, and gather underneath the sturdy oaks to share knowledge and stories.  

To walk through the westside neighborhood and down Park Street is to be surrounded by the ghosts of a thriving textile industry, the relentless hum and clack of sewing machines pouring out of the mills still easy enough to imagine. 

The relics of a main street stretch from the Martin Neighborhood in the south end of town all the way to the Robertson Neighborhood in the north, with passersby, knowingly or unknowingly walking through an architectural time capsule, reflecting everything from the hopes and dreams of an industrious community on the rise, loss of families and neighbors during times of civil war, times of great prosperity during the boom of the “gilded ages”, and the uncertainty that followed the decline of the Cheney Mills during the great depression and the two world wars that followed.

Manchester is a town that wears its history on its sleeve, and while one can get a sense of that history through the ruins and remnants of its forgotten industry, by walking streets named for families long since forgotten, the key to the complete story lies with each of us, here and now.

Stories engage our attention and trigger our imagination in a way that is uniquely intimate. When you hear a story, you step out of your reality, you place yourself in someone else’s shoes, and you get to experience their perspective and engage in their emotions, actions, and decisions. 

When you listen to a story of someone else’s life, for that brief moment it is as if you have had the opportunity to live vicariously through them. From those experiences, we learn and ultimately grow. Simply put, stories help you learn to empathize with other people as you come to understand how their view of the world, and how their lens has affected and ultimately shaped their experience.

Add Your Story to Our History

As part of the Town of Manchester’s year-long bicentennial celebration, each member of the community now has the opportunity to add their name and experience to the living history of this city of village charm. 

With the help of “History Chip” online, an electronic service that allows users to record, store, and share their personal stories members of the community will literally add their voice to the living history of Manchester. 

The ability to upload a number of different electronic mediums ensures that users are able to express themselves in their own voice as well as their one words. Submissions can include written poetry, narratives, short videos, and audio recordings all through one seamless portal where it will be archived and made accessible as part of Manchester’s Living History Project”.

By sharing our stories we are able to connect to the past in a way that is simply not possible by passively observing it. Our oral and written histories provide insights into the daily lives of the trailblazers and leaders that came before us, they remind us that while time marches forward, our experiences often remain the same. 

Contributions to this project will help to keep us rooted to the promises and goals we set for ourselves in the past, they will make us resolute and lend credibility to the promises we make to da for our future, and they may eventually serve as  a framework for future generations to carry on with the work that we are just now starting.

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