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Minooka class creating Joliet book
By Christina Chapman   - 10/08/2007

The Herald News

MINOOKA -- Teacher David Belden and his students have already published one book and are working on the second.

Belden and his local history class at Minooka High School started a series of books on postcards beginning with a book on Grundy County that is available in stores for $19.99. The book features more than 200 images and pieces of correspondences from postcards from the 1880s to the mid-1900s.

"When I started this class, it was strictly digitalizing. I never dreamed of the book," Belden said.

Originally, Belden's class and the Three Rivers Public Library teamed up in 2006 to preserve and maintain pictures and postcards for the library. The goal was to make sure the area's history was not lost.

Eventually this project extended to preserving postcards from throughout the county, and Belden started thinking of proposing a book to a publishing company in 2007.

"He didn't tell us (we were publishing) until about halfway through the class," said senior Kristen Neville. "We thought we might be and then he said we were, and we had to start cracking down because we were on a tight deadline."

Last year's classes gathered and scanned Grundy County postcards and started scanning postcards for Belden's second book on Joliet.

This year's class is researching and writing captions for the Joliet book, which should be out toward the end of May, Belden said.

"I didn't really think we would accomplish this," said junior Brian Bonds. "It's really great to be a part of something like this."

The books feature around 200 postcards, but the class has to gather about 400 to select the best pictures and examples of correspondence. The postcards come from local libraries, historical societies, schools and private collections.

"What surprised me was the amount of research we had to do for each postcard," Belden said. "For the captions you need information on the house, the person or the business."

Belden said he and the class would travel throughout Grundy taking the postcards to the buildings they featured to look for date markers and to track down previous inhabitants.

Belden hopes to continue with the series after the Joliet book and is already planning a "Now and Then of Grundy County," he said.

Possible future topics include the I & M Canal and Will County.





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