To get the history of any community, it’s best to have reliable sources. In Mansfield, that means the residents themselves. “This Is Us” is an appropriate title for the history project being undertaken in 2020 to mark the 130th anniversary of Mansfield’s incorporation. The Mansfield Historic Landmark Commission, the Mansfield Public Library and the Mansfield Historical Museum and Heritage Center have combined for the effort that will compile the reflections of residents and former residents.
“Our history is more than just the buildings, places and events that happened in Mansfield,” says Yolanda Botello, Mansfield’s Director of Library Services. “The life experiences of the people who live here are just as important.”
Organizers want to know about the experiences of those connected to Mansfield, such as memories of growing up there, going to school, working there or living in the city. The recollections will be shared through the city’s website, social media and educational videos, and some might be displayed at the historical museum, located on historic Main Street in Mansfield’s downtown, at the library on Wisteria Street, City Hall on Broad Street, or other civic buildings.
“First-hand accounts and personal stories are invaluable resources when documenting the history of a community,” says Jessica Baber, manager of the Mansfield Historical Museum. “While things like where people like to shop or what they do with their free time on the weekends may seem unimportant today, 100 years from now, that information will go a long way to telling the story of what life was like for people in Mansfield during this time.”
In a way, participants today will be contributing to history down the road. Baber says that contributions will be added to the museum and city archives, and will be available to researchers, currently and in the future.
Several ways are available for the public to share stories. The city has set up a page on its website with details: mansfieldhistory.org/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=119. Respondents can email their stories, can submit them online, or print out a form and mail to or drop off at the city’s Planning Department at City Hall, the Mansfield Public Library or the Mansfield Historical Museum.
Mansfield’s fast growth offers promise of a wide variety of input and illustrates the need for documentation. From 2000 to 2010, the city’s population more than doubled, from about 28,000 to more than 56,000. Estimates put the current population above 70,000.
“Mansfield is a rapidly growing and changing community. Collecting stories of our current citizens will play an important role in documenting this formative era in the story of the history of Mansfield,” Baber says.
Botello sees the project as a way to link the past, present and future.
“This Is Us allows us to learn more about our past from different perspectives, and it leaves a record of those memories that might otherwise be lost,” she says. “But it’s not just the past that’s important. We want stories of life in Mansfield today. Someday in the future, these stories will take their place as part of Mansfield’s history.”