In July of 2012, local Hudson, NY business owner Lisa Durfee discovered an unmarked cardboard box at a garage sale on Clinton Street. In it were the remnants of lives that came through the gates of the New York State School for Girls, a juvenile prison that operated in Hudson from 1904 until 1975. The box contained intake forms, photographs, personal letters, and other ephemera from girls incarcerated at the Training School in Hudson during the 1920s and early 1930s.
Over the course of a spring-semester workshop this year, students from Hudson High School in Hudson, NY have had the opportunity to be some of the first eyes to read, analyze, and interpret these documents and images that might have otherwise been lost to history. Facilitated by the Prison Public Memory Project’s Hudson Site Coordinator, Brian Buckley, along with Hudson High School Community Schools Writing Center Coordinator Gail Wheeler, students from the high school have spent the last five months unearthing the stories buried in these artifacts and creating artwork and poetry inspired by those stories.
“Letters from some distant place”, an exhibition featuring the students’ creative responses to the history of the Training School for Girls and the meanings that history might hold for the present day, will be featured at the Hudson Area Library throughout the month of June. The exhibition will feature original poetry, zines made from archival sources, and excerpts from oral histories that the students conducted with local Hudson community members about the Training School.
The opening reception for “Letters from some distant place” will be at the Hudson Area Library, 51 N. 5th Street, Hudson, NY 12534, on Thursday, May 26th, from 6:00 - 8:00 PM. At the reception, students will present a special performance of their writing.