Never Too Young

25 May

ONE OF THE MOST ENDEARING collaborations that our oral history program has undertaken has been our partnership with Polly McDonald’s Fourth Grade Historians Club.

Whittier Historians meet with oral history manager Susan Becker

Polly has sponsored the club at Whittier Elementary School  in central Boulder since 1992. The historians meet once a week during their lunch hour to investigate the history of the school, the surrounding community, and the city of Boulder. Polly teaches them how to do historical research. The Boulder Heritage Roundtable honored the Whittier Elementary School Historian’s Club this month with a Special Project Award.

This school year, the group decided to conduct oral histories with people who had gone to their school long ago:  nine students interviewed ten people who had been students at Whittier in the first half of the twentieth century. Their oldest narrator was Edith Florence Monroe, who is 106 years old and had been a Whittier student in 1909!

The student’s interviews currently are being transcribed and eventually will be added to our oral history program’s archive and become part of the holdings of the Boulder Library. The students were pretty jazzed to hear that they would be listed in the online catalog as authors of the interviews.

After recording the interviews, the students continued to meet and wrote chapters in the voices of the narrators.  Their work has been  published as a slim, charming, colorful, and informative book: Stories from Whittier’s Past: Students from 1909-1957. The book includes photographs of the narrators and the student historians, and lots of fun facts and anecdotes about childhood and school in an era gone by.

You can see a copy of the book at the Carnegie Branch Library for Local History, 1125 Pine St., Boulder, or if you’d like to own a copy, you can email Polly McDonald at to order one for $15.

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