Dover group hopes to document, tell residents’ stories

By LESLIE MODICA, Foster’s Daily Democrat

DOVER — A group of volunteers wants to put some faces to the names in the Garrison City.

The Oral History Committee, an all-volunteer board, has launched a project that would display photographs and narratives around the city featuring residents and their connection to Dover, creating a type of walking tour through the eyes of locals.

Beth Fisher, an organizer of the project, said the group is looking to take a contemporary approach to an idea used by other communities who have had themed art campaigns throughout the city.

Fisher said the photographs do not necessarily have to hold any historical significance, although some may, but they all must have a connection to the community and its landmarks.

She said she hopes to have the project start in the new Greater Dover Chamber of Commerce visitor’s center.

“Visitors can walk up to the new chamber and would be able to see some faces of Dover residents,” she said.

From there, Fisher said she hopes to expand the art to about 13 spots around the city, likely businesses who will display the photographs and stories in their window or elsewhere inside the business.

“The idea is to create foot traffic in the community and get people to go to places they have never been,” Fisher said.

Fisher said the concept came from Public Radio’s cooperation with the nonprofit Story Corps, which documents oral history by helping friends and relatives interview one another.

The idea caught on in Dover when Fisher helped a project that documented the stories of four seniors in the community, which then sparked the suggestion from a resident to continue documenting local stories, eventually turning into the current project.

The project since has been taken in by the Dover Adult Learning Center, which is acting as the fiscal agent for the project, and a couple Dover High School teachers also have volunteered to help. Cathy Beaudoin, library director, and the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire have signed on as well.

Fisher said the committee is planning a “community scrapbook activity” in May or June that would invite residents to bring photographs and stories to be put together for the project.

The project is still in its preliminary stage now, but Fisher is inviting residents to a meeting of the Oral History Committee on March 24 from 4 to 5 p.m. on the second floor of the Dover Public Library to learn more or get involved.

She said she is looking for volunteers to work on the steering committee and subcommittees and graphic artists and photographers as well as, of course, anybody with photographs to contribute.

Anybody interested can attend the meeting or contact Fisher at erfisher@myfairpoint.net.