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Penn Hills native delves into Indiana County history

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012, 7:42 p.m.

Chris Lamonde is learning a lot about 19th-century Indiana County.The Penn Hills native, 23, has been working with two other graduate students from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania in a service learning project under the direction of IUP's history graduate program coordinator, Dr. Jeanine Mazak-Kahne. Lamonde is working with unopened court records and other written materials collected by the Historical and Genealogical Society of Indiana County, processing them and making them available for research.Mazak-Kahne said the society receives and collects more documents than it can process, and that her students gain "very strong practical skills" processing the records, which complement the theory they learn in class.Lamonde spoke with the Progress recently about cataloguing a slice of western Pennsylvania history: Q: What, initially, got you interested in history?A: Surprisingly, I really became interested in history during my undergraduate degree. I took a few survey courses on Western civilization my freshman year of college, which really sparked my interest. Since then, I have been reading and studying all different kinds of eras and topics of history. I continued to take history courses and decided to major in the discipline. Q: What are some of the different types of documents you're processing?A: Mostly legal documents such as lawsuits, land deeds, quarterly sessions, court orders, and bills in equity. I also had a few miscellaneous items such as correspondences and maps. Q: What's the oldest document you've processed so far?A: The oldest documents I encountered were lawsuits and court orders from the early 1860s. Q: Dr. Mazuk-Kahne said in the press release that people "do history for a greater good." Beyond this project that is centered on Indiana County, what "greater good" would you like to accomplish through your studies with history?A : I would like facilitate a greater good through the historical research I conduct and the projects I contribute to. Through sound and ethical work, I hope to present history more accurately and help people become more open-minded and knowledgeable about history and its importance to the public. By appreciating and learning from the past, history can be utilized in creating positive change for our future. Q: What part of it have you enjoyed the most?A: Aside from the excitement of working with documents from the past, the sense of satisfaction from completing my work was the most enjoyable part of the project. Also, contributing to the society's collections is pretty cool, since my work may potentially benefit someone else's research.

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