Several pieces of Plain City history will be on display at the village historical society throughout the summer.
On Tuesday, the Plain City Historical Society held the opening of a new exhibit in honor of the village’s bicentennial this year which also coincided with the opening of their new gift shop.
Pat Williamsen, Executive Director of the Ohio Humanities Council, did a presentation on the exhibit which features photographs taken of the village in the late 1930s. The photographs were part of a project, created by President Franklin Roosevelt’s administration, to highlight the efforts to pull the county out of the Great Depression.
When Roosevelt took office in 1933, he enacted his New Deal, a series of programs put into place with the intention of fixing all the issues of the Depression.
“Roosevelt had to sell this program, not only to Congress, but also to the American people,” Williamsen said. “The best known photo collection comes out of the Farm Security Administration (FSA).”
The FSA assembled a team of photographers and sent them across the country to take pictures of rural America — a portion of those photos were taken in Plain City.
The photographer assigned to central Ohio, which included other places in Madison County, was a New York graphic designer named Ben Shahn.
“Shahn was in Ohio for about six weeks in 1938,” Williamsen said. Although it is not clear when he arrived, he spent the entirety of August of ’38 in Ohio. “Of the 3,000 photos taken in the Ohio, Ben Shahn shot more than a third of those pictures in that six week period while he was here in Ohio.”
Photographers were given lists of images to get from the FSA, most of which Shahn checked off while visiting Plain City.
The photos were eventually housed in the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. and recently were used in an exhibit at COSI. However, in honor of Plain City’s Bicentennial celebration in July, the Plain City portion of the exhibit will be available to view at the historical society throughout the summer.
They are currently in the window displays in the front of the building on Main Street.
Also Tuesday evening was the opening of the gift shop which includes a wide range of items for sale, from T-shirts to garden flags to pottery, as well as the recently published history book on the village, “Moments in Time.”
Reach Michael Williamson at 740-852-1616, ext. 1619.
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