making the past come alive on ocracoke
The village of Ocracoke was one of the first towns settled on the Outer Banks; yet without preservation its long and colorful history is in danger of being lost. Writing for the Ocracoke Current, Annelise Straw tells the story of artist and now historian, Karen Rhodes, as she works to preserve the past.
“As Dr. Martin Luther King once said, “We are not makers of history. We are made by history.” The Ocracoke Preservation Society was founded in 1983 as a non-profit organization run by community volunteers who are devoted to conserving the history and culture of Ocracoke Island. In 1992, OPS opened their free admittance museum in the David Williams house. The museum curators are continuously evolving the museum’s approach to history to better meet the advancements of the digital age.
Behind the scenes at OPS is digital mastermind Karen Rhodes. Karen, an artist by trade, returned to Ocracoke after being drawn back by family ties and a desire to uncover the important history of the island. She currently runs the upstairs research library at OPS, which is home to photo albums, genealogical records, shipwreck accounts, and anything from recipes to wedding reports that are significant to the history of Ocracoke. Karen is working to create a digital library and exhibit by scanning the pictures and albums that have been donated by local families. The goal of the digital archives is to promote community involvement and to make sure that history is preserved for all and accessible to many. What better way to do this than Facebook!”