• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Downs's passion for history helps others learn about past

Going to Civil War reenactments and historic places - including the Mary Todd Lincoln House in Lexington - as a little girl with her father were life-changing experiences for Sadie Downs, now 17. David Downs taught his daughter to appreciate history and the lessons learned from the past. And now Sadie, a senior at Woodford County High School, has a passion to learn about the past and a desire to share what she learns with others. The Kentucky Historical Society honored Sadie as its Volunteer of the Month in February because of "her positive attitude and enthusiasm, along with her instinctual knowledge of what information is important for historical research." Sadie spends most weekday afternoons at the Kentucky Historical Society scanning historic postcards so those visual depictions of how life in the Bluegrass state has changed over the last 100 years are accessible to researchers and the public. Her primary responsibility involves digitizing postcards that will supplement a collection started by Ronald Morgan - believed to be the second-largest collection of Kentucky postcards in the United States. Sadie also writes "descriptions to help contextualize information for patron use," according the Kentucky Historical Society's monthly newsletter. Sadie says reading a postcard's message reminds her that she's not so very different from the person who wrote those words 100 years ago. Since she plans to attend Western Kentucky University in the fall, postcards depicting its early history are especially meaningful to her. "We need to see how far we've come and how far we need to go," Sadie says. Before she began volunteering with the Kentucky Historical Society's student co-op program in September 2015, Sadie took advanced placement U.S. history, government and military history classes last school year. "The collaboration of all those (classes) really helped to further my education and gave me a better understanding of history because you saw it from all different viewpoints," explains Sadie. She says her U. S. history teacher, Kyle Fannin, gave her an application that led to her being interviewed for the Kentucky Historical Society's student co-op program. "This (helping others learn about history) is something that I truly love. And I'm really excited that I'll get to do this for a living one day," says Sadie. She wants to come back to WCHS after she earns a teaching degree from WKU so she can share her passion for history with the next generation of students and give them "the level of education that I've received," she says. In addition to volunteering at the Kentucky Historical Society, Sadie interns at the Jack Jouett House in Woodford County. She spends two Mondays a month at the historic site reorganizing its research files so those documents are more accessible to volunteers and visitors. "She's got good grip on local history as well as state history," says Janice Clark, executive director of the Jouett House, "and I think she'll make a terrific history teacher."

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