By Miranda Levesque- Staff Writer
A poster representing “We Used to be Normal” inside Purington Hall. (photo by Joseph Arsenault)
Laurie Macwhinnie and many other contributors are working towards informing the students of UMF’s history and why it is important by using grant money.
“It started last year. We applied for a grant from Maine Memory Network (MMN) last summer was the grant process,” said Macwhinnie, one of the many people involved in the UMF’s grant project towards an online exhibit on the schools important history when it was known as “The Farmington State Normal School.”
Macwhinnie’s goal, along with many other members of the project is to inform students of the history that lies behind closed library doors. Many students are not aware of the impact that the Normal School had on this liberal arts college.
The university applied for a grant from the MMN to create this online exhibit. The Maine Memory network is a website that provides historical information on places and people in Maine. The university launched the MMN page and used the grant money to complete their webpage. “Our grant money went towards the purchase of the scanner, the photoshop software and half of one of our laptops to use in the library or the archives station.”
The Normal School was well known for its economics program, Macwhinnie explained. She discussed how economics was a major program during this time and how it reflects a great amount of history. One of the most important parts of the program was the “cottage babies.” In this program, students learned to take care of a live infant as young as five weeks old. This aspect created a lot of history from the students who took care of the babies to who the babies were. In addition to this program, students learned cooking, housekeeping, etc… “Although the school has always been an education school, the economic program was a big part of The Normal School,” Macwhinnie said.
The program to launch the site worked with two university classes at Farmington. These classes completed projects and used artifacts to contribute and share on the website. “It was great working with students, it was a lot of fun, although it had its challenges too,” she said.
The webpage that Macwhinnie and her assistants launched in May 2012 is reflecting on the university’s 150th anniversary. As part of the festivities and celebrations, the website was created to be a helpful resource for Farmington students and citizens to teach them about the history of the university and how is has developed over the years. It was created to give a positive outlook on how it has been an important part of Farmington for 150 years. “The campus is doing a lot of special stuff for the anniversary of the school and this is a part of that.”
“We are going to continue to do research and add more to the Maine Memory Network,” Macwhinnie said.
There will be an informational meeting held on October 3rd in room CR-123 of the Robert’s Learning Center at noon. To learn more about the website and its great resources through UMF’s history, stop in to listen to Professor Allison Helpler’s, Kelly Bovin’s, and Macwhinnie’s presentation about the webpage and how it is going to help celebrate the university’s 150th anniversary!