On July 11, students walked swiftly to the air-conditioned David O. McKay Library with sweat seeping through their shirts.
As some walked through the building to sit down from the heat, others climbed upstairs to the next level of the Library. They walked toward the Library’s historical printing press to an exhibit that displayed artifacts of stones and pieces of buildings in glass cases.
The walls were cased in old and new wood panels with signs that said “KEEP OUT” and “NO TRESPASSING” in red letters. Posters lined the walls with the bolded words “Disappearing Rexburg.”
Students examined a clear case that had past historical items such as a paper bag that said “Rexburg Food Center,” a ledger that had yellow pages with old handwriting in it, and many other things. On the other side of the wall, there were three blank poster boards that reached the windows.
On the top of the boards, there was small black writing that read, “What makes a building important to you?,” “What is a place in Rexburg that brings back good memories for you?” and “What changes do you like that have occurred in Rexburg?”
With pink, orange and yellow sticky notes that encased the boards, people answered the questions.
Students from HIST 394, who prepared and set up the exhibit, watched as people walked through and read all the work they had done.
“The students did all the interviews; the students created all the posters and got all of the objects,” said Roger Wiblin, a visiting faculty member for the Department of History, Geography and Political Science. “I’m just the teacher who gave them the assignment.”
Wiblin explained the purpose of the exhibit was to connect those who have lived in Rexburg to the history of Rexburg by finding out about buildings that had been previously demolished but have created memories for people. Through the process putting on the exhibit, his students have learned skills of conducting oral history interviews and doing research on demolished buildings.
One of his students, Ryan Walker, a senior studying history education, said that this exhibit was their semester-long project. Wiblin posted on a Facebook group with long-time Rexburg residents asking if there were any buildings that have been torn down with a history attached to them. Many people replied to the post, and Walker and his classmates started interviewing residents.
“One of the themes we learn in our class is that memories are tied to specific locations,” Walker said.
Through the process of the student’s interviews, they learned about the women’s dorms, Rexburg Food Center, Madison Memorial Hospital and many more. They were able to connect a specific piece of history with a memory.
For more stories of people’s memories of Rexburg, listen to the BYU-Idaho Radio’s podcast “Disappearing Rexburg,” and visit the exhibit located on the second floor of the McKay Library by the Gutenberg printing station from July 11-24, 2-4 p.m.
“This is an opportunity to connect and educate students of what has happened in Rexburg’s past,” Wiblin said. “Also, to have long-time residents recognize that we, as a community, are aware of the history.”