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edu180atl: dara harper 5.3.12

Last Thanksgiving, I was the guest of a lovely family in California. The older woman sitting next to me began telling me about her baklava she had made for dessert. As the conversation progressed, she revealed that she had been the very first secretary for the very first computer. The first computer ever! Then she told me that she had worked with Professor Einstein.(!) Other parts of her life story were amazing as well and we are now devoted pen pals…so I get to hear the mundane as well as the inspired tales of her past.

One week ago, I met another woman who formerly owned a super chic dress shop in Syracuse, NY. She’s 92 years old, with perfect blond hair, just enough makeup and a cane that looks more like a queen’s scepter. As we spoke, she told me that her mother had given up her wedding ring to support the war (WWI). She also recounted that when her husband wanted to build a house for his new wife, no seasoned wood was available; so he bought an old army barracks disassembled it, transported the wood and rebuilt it in Syracuse.

Simultaneously, as a homeschooler of two small children, I was trying to figure out how to study history. Museums are useful, statues are useful, cemetaries are cool…but not very exciting to little kids. Then it occurred to me: I am surrounded by humans who can tell me their history. And they can answer questions that my children will ask like, “When did your family get a car?” or “Did you use an outhouse?” or “What games did you play when you were younger?”

History is not dead. History and even Herstory is walking past you on the street or maybe even living in your house. My children are working on interview questions for my friends Akrevoe and Abby. Maybe we’ll even take our microphone and begin an oral history project. One day my kids will tell their kids about how to learn what history really is…your friend, your neighbor, your grandparent and yourself.

About the author: Dara Harper is a mom, yoga instructor and writer who has plans to be a rockstar…even though she still hasn’t learned to play any instruments. Dara lives in Syracuse, NY with her super cool partner, Ken, and two phenomenal children, Rio and Amelie. Her parenting blog is

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