Ferrum College takes living history to the next level

Published: May. 23, 2023 at 8:05 PM EDT
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FERRUM, Va. (WDBJ) - The Blue Ridge Farm Museum has been on the Ferrum College campus since the ‘70s.

It has hosted countless school groups and served as the backdrop for many other events. And this week, it’s taking living history to a whole new level.

Five Ferrum students are taking part in a three-week course organized by the Blue Ridge Institute and the Ferrum College History Department. The first two weeks included research and training, and now the students are living on the 1800 farm.

Reagan Hall is rising Junior from Botetourt County.

“We make everything. So we make the butter, the bread. We cook everything. We have to keep the fire alive just to eat,” Hall said in an interview Tuesday morning. “It’s been really helpful, there being five of us here. So it’s like, Okay you do this, somebody do this. I don’t remember how to do this. Does somebody know how to do this?”

They’re wearing period dress. And except for the cellphones they have in case of emergency, they’ve traded technology for the hands-on tasks that would have dominated life on the farm.

Ke’Shawn Price is a recent Ferrum graduate from Lynchburg.

“I was curious about the wood-working they were doing back in the day. I wanted to get a feel of it and see what I could make myself, even though I’m still in the process of doing that, but it’s coming along good,” he said.

Blue Ridge Institute Archivist & Curator Ariel Dalton said the goal is to highlight the experiences of everyday people.

“We often hear about famous people, the politicians in history,” Dalton told us, “but we don’t see how our great grandparents were raised.”

This class has also been a learning process for Ferrum College and the Blue Ridge Institute as they consider whether to make the living history experience a staple of their summer program.