Jennifer White, Guest Blogger

I am a historian, guilty of no longer recording my own life. Instead, as Curator of Education at a history museum, I spend my time reading what we call “primary sources”, or things that were written at the time events were happening. Not a small number of those sources are from women.

Diaries, household accounts, and especially letters are most valuable to me as I work to learn the lessons of our past and relate them to the lives of the students I see every day. These women’s voices reach out across time and grab me. I can imagine the disappointment when another day passes without a letter from a distant suitor, or the large amount of daily travail indicated by the long list of household supplies purchased dearly.

People in historical circles worry that the digital age may rob us of these valuable primary sources. I think this is not so: We will simply have to look for them and preserve them differently.

For example, every day I enjoy sharing the thoughts of fascinating women through website postings, blogs, Facebook updates and even tweets. Their words make me laugh, or nod in sympathy, and occasionally make me angry. Their voices lift me up. I leave a comment or share an insight with my online friends. I also hear the voices of today’s women in the stories we capture everywhere. Just the fact that I can hear those voices, in all the places I find them, inspires me to speak out also.

By blogging, commenting, scrapbooking and video-recording our lives, we not only create a valuable resource for historians of the future, but we also find our own voices and give them value. As we view each other’s posts, we are encouraged by the sound of voices like our own. We are emboldened to speak out. When you contribute to posts that move you, you are giving that voice value, and claiming value for your own voice.

So tell your story. Scrap a page, post a blog, comment on something you’ve read today. When you use your voice, you raise us all up.

Jennifer White is a transplanted Yankee enjoying the warm winters of Eastern Tennessee. A teacher at heart, she’s spent the last ten years working as a teaching artist in schools and with community groups. Her history geek has been unleashed by the opportunity to interpret local history for students at the Curator of Education at The Museum Center at 5ive Points in Cleveland, TN. When she’s not teaching, she’s busy telling stories through digital scrapbooking and art.

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