As some of my readers know, I’ve been traveling in Washington state for the last three weeks, visiting family and friends and the old family home in the north central part of the state, which also houses the permanent office for Home Education Magazine. I left Alaska, where we live now, the first week of June with my dad and my sister, to attend the high school graduation of my youngest nephew, and to visit my mother’s only sister, who lives in Boise, Idaho. A week later Dad and my sister flew home and I turned toward our Washington home, where I’m presently working in the office, hanging out with our daughter Jody (who still lives in this area), and going through the 26+ year collection of stuff related to publishing the magazine. It’s been an eye-opening experience, and quite a trip down memory lane.
I found the original notebooks and edited manuscripts of several books we published, by Linda Dobson, Agnes Leistico, Cafi Cohen and others. I found photos of Mark and I speaking at conferences from New York to California, and marveled at how young we looked two decades ago. I found our complete collection of Homeschooler’s Weekly, a popular little publication we produced for a couple of years in the early 1990’s.
I found photos of our kids – some only babies! – playing amongst cases of magazines, helping out in the mailroom, assisting us at conferences, posing for cover photos. I found original copies of old flyers and brochures for HEM, booklets and catalogues we produced, mock-ups for old ads we ran in magazines and newsletters. It brought a smile to see that you can still subscribe to HEM for the same price we advertised over a quarter of a century ago!
I came across a box which contained a few binders and notebooks, our complete archives of the National Homeschool Association, founded in 1988 and voluntarily disbanded around 1997. For almost ten years the organization, the first nationwide effort to unite homeschoolers, provided a national forum for broad-based discussion about issues of concern to homeschooling families. As founding members, editors of the NHA’s Circles of Correspondence newsletter, and having attended every meeting for the first few years, we collected quite an archive of homeschooling’s history. Probably a book in there somewhere, someday.
Before the NHA dissolved itself it produced a document, Homeschooling Families, Ready for the Next Decade, which still stands alone as just what the subtitle says: “A Foundation for Ongoing Conversations.” A brief excerpt:
“The knowledge and effective support homeschoolers offer one another are major strengths of the homeschooling movement. Homeschoolers who create and participate in support groups, share resources, and gather for activities and discussions are making an important contribution to the growth and stability of the homeschooling movement. Grassroots organizing and networking have been a source of the homeschooling community’s strength.”
That might seem like a real no-brainer in today’s homeschooling world of email, websites, blogs, texting, Facebook, Twitter, and all the rest, but the NHA predated most of our current electronic inter-connectedness. The NHA functioned via phone and postal mail delivery, almost archaic by today’s standards. Most of the discussion about creating the NHA took place within the pages of Home Education Magazine – with many weeks between installments and updates.
I’m still digging around, and still finding old treasures. Photos of old friends, letters and documents which bring back memories, books, computer disks, recordings, notes and more. I could start a museum of homeschooling’s history with this stuff! Maybe some day, in some way, I will.