UC Intern makes our Local History Video

Sam Hahn

In a Public History Internship last summer, I was given the task of creating a video introduction for the living history tour “Hamilton Avenue Road to Freedom”.  As a UC History major, and Electronic Media minor at the University of Cincinnati, this was the perfect opportunity to combine my two fields of study and apply them to a single project.

It may seem surprising that as a Cincinnati native with an interest in history I knew very little about the role Hamilton Avenue played in the Underground Railroad. As a result I had to spend a good amount of time reading the area’s local history before I had the proper context to create a script. Members of the College Hill and Mt. Healthy Historical Societies helped along the way to make sure my information was accurate and pertinent to the sites being highlighted on the tour.

The most fun I had creating the film was going around to the different sites and recording footage. Most people think you have to travel to cities like Philadelphia or Washington D.C. to see American history, but every community has it’s own story to tell. The sites along Hamilton Avenue are no exception. Although some of the structures are gone, the geography of the land that made escapes possible still remains. A highlight was being able to record footage inside Six Acres Bed and Breakfast. Built by Zebulon Strong in the 1850s, it was used as a safe house in the last days of the Underground Railroad. Being able to see the house, kept up with period furnishing, was a fascinating look into living history.

A lesson this project taught me was that you never know what opportunities you have until you ask. When I needed to get a wide shot of Hamilton Avenue, I wanted to be as high up as I could. The tallest building in the area is the Hammond North, but it is private property and I did not have any connections there. Even so I figured I would try and ask for permission to film on the roof. I met with the owner of the condos and because I asked she was able to put me in contact with the owners of a condo on the top floor. These residents generously allowed me to come into their home and use their balcony to film the shots of Hamilton Avenue that I used to open the video. It provided the perfect shot of the street and it never would have happened if I hadn’t asked.

Balancing a full class schedule and a part-time job along with this project forced me to manage my time well, but the end result was well worth it. The video was completed in time for the tour and the feedback was great. I think that my work was able to accurately reflect the event and served as a companion piece to all the hard work everyone else put in to make that day possible. It was exciting to be able to study the history of an area that I have driven through many times and a joy to bring the events and stories of its past to life.

View the 14 minute video here


Sam Hahn

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