They are kids, community leaders, artists, musicians, single moms, teachers and local “characters.” They all come together to present a cross-section of a community that’s uniquely. . . Findlay.
When “Humans of Findlay” goes on sale this month, area residents will have a chance to own a moment in time; a collection of stories that are, at once, nostalgic and offbeat. A collaboration between The University of Findlay and the Hancock Historical Museum, “Humans of Findlay” features approximately 180 profiles of local individuals drawn from a popular Facebook page.
Dave Morrow, the man behind the Facebook creation, worked with Sarah Sisser, museum executive director, and Christine Denecker, Ph.D., chair of the UF English Department, to preserve his expressive black and white photos and written profiles in print. Denecker spent several months editing Morrow’s copy for consistency of length of each profile, to vary sentence structure and to achieve continuity.
“People love to tell their stories,” said Denecker. “This differs from a ‘typical’ history textbook. It helps make local history more familiar, as many of the people are affiliated with longstanding companies or organizations in Findlay. It brings a bit of nostalgia. This is Findlay’s own history. It gives a sense of community.”
The Historical Museum set a $15,000 fundraising goal to cover the expense of turning a digital creation into print. The University of Findlay is one of the major sponsors, along with Findlay Rotary Club. Other sponsors are Findlay Kiwanis, the Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation and Allegra Printing. Several individuals also contributed, and proceeds from sales will benefit the museum.
Denecker began editing the profiles back in June 2015. UF alumna Lindsy Reindel ’14, a graphic designer, donated her skills to prepare the page layouts and get the book “print-ready.” This was no easy task, as the book is more than 200 pages and contains 180 of Morrow’s black and white photos.
“I didn’t want to do the same layout for each profile,” Reindel recalled. “I wanted to mix it up a little. I wanted to get up close and personal with the photos.” She also recognized many of the book’s subjects, as UF faculty, students and staff are well represented.
Reindel said she especially enjoyed serving on the publishing committee, working with Denecker and Sisser. Employed for the past two years at Findlay’s AR Marketing, she feels her UF classes thoroughly prepared her for a design career. “I learned everything I needed to know,” she added.
“Lindsy has been so valuable on this project,” Sisser commented. “She not only designed the book itself, but all of the promotional and fundraising materials. She has been involved from the beginning and the fact that she has done this as a volunteer is really commendable.”
This isn’t the first collaboration between the University and the museum. In 2014, Denecker and Sisser captured narratives of owners of northwest Ohio’s Century Farms and created a large display at the Hancock County Fair. This fall, Megan Adams, Ph.D., communications instructor, took her class to Mark Metzger’s Century Farm in Hancock County to continue the Ohio Farm History project.
“English and history are much less separated than most people believe,” added Denecker. “When I teach literature, I also teach the history of that era. There’s a natural overlap. Literature is often grounded in history. ‘Humans of Findlay’ will become a living history.”
Katherine Fell, Ph.D., UF president, along with Denecker and Reindel, will attend a book release and signing on Tuesday, Nov. 17 at 8:30 a.m. at Findlay’s Coffee Amici.