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September 30, 2011 - Stephen Browne
Doing the article on the screening of Prairie Public Television's documentary "Volstead Fever: Prohibition in Minnesota," with a preview of the Ken Burns "Prohibition" documentary was one of the more satisfying stories I've done lately.
It turned out to be a longish newspaper article and very easily could have been magazine article length. Likewise, the PPTV documentary could easily have been longer, with all the fascinating material available.
Who knew Andrew Volstead had significant and worthwhile achievements that live on to this day, overshadowed by his involvement in one of our nation's most ill-advised social experiments?
But what really impressed me was how much they relied on local volunteer historians and archivists. PPTV relied heavily on Mary Gillespie and the the other volunteers at the Granite Falls Historical Society/Volstead House. And I've seen this elsewhere in a lot of local historical societies and community museums, a wealth of artifacts and historical knowledge maintained by unpaid volunteers.
My impression after living 13 years in Europe is that these kinds of local volunteer-maintained museums are not as common there.
One of my dream ideas (you know, the one's that start, "If I only had the funding...") is to do cross-county bus tours for Old World historians and museum curators, visiting not the huge, world famous big-city museums, but local city and county historical society museums. I know and am on good terms with museum curators in Poland and former Yugoslavia and I bet it would be an eye-opener for them, and a rollicking good time to boot!
Bravo PPTV, and bravo Granite Falls Historical Society. And thanks for a most enjoyable evening.
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