Making history stick: The Union presents ‘Golden Stories of Our Past,’ highlighting women’s suffrage
Special to The Union
The fifth installment to the Union’s “Golden Stories of Our Past” series premieres this Friday, Sept. 10, at the Nevada Theatre on Broad Street in Nevada City. Directed by local filmmaker Andrew Rolland, “Women’s Suffrage” features several well-known public figures telling the story of the ratification of the 19th Amendment as it pertained to Nevada County.
The Union first got into the film making business in 2014, as a means of celebrating the 150th anniversary of the publication. Associate Publisher Julia Stidham said then events manager Mary Anne Davis came back from a college reunion where she saw a documentary of the teachers from her graduating class in an interview style presentation. Stidham said they both thought it was a great format to tell the story of Nevada County’s history.
“Longtime community leaders shared their historical tie-ins and their memories of The Union and remembering significant news events. That is how that one took shape.”
The movie was well received, and the team learned a lot. The next “Golden Stories of our Past” was subtitled, “Forgotten Places” followed by “Wild Women of the West,” “Outlaws and Lawmen,” and now “Women’s Suffrage.”
Many people may not be aware of the key role Nevada City played in the ratification of the 19th Amendment. Nevada County residents Aaron Sargent and Ellen Clark-Sargent were instrumental in winning the women’s right to vote, Stidham stated.
“That is the piece that is so impressive about this story and what actually took place here,” she said. “(It is important) to really show case and highlight that story.”
Local historians, officials and prominent community members who tell the story in the film include Shelley Covert, Chris Enss, Cory Fisher, Brian Hamilton, Sheriff Shannan Moon, Janet Rankin, Linda Jack, Lisa Swarthout and Lynn Wenzel.
Stidham emphasized that while all the films have been good, this one is exceptional.
“The way that this particular film finished, and the way that it all came out in the storytelling, I am so excited. I feel like this is the best one.”
Director Andrew Rolland had worked as an intern at The Union and has also created films that have been featured in local festivals.
“He’s fantastic. He’s talented. He knows what he is doing,” Stidham said. “Not only is he a great filmmaker, director and editor, he also understood what the vision was and wove it together. We were very lucky to be able to work with him.” She said it is hard to convey a vision and tone to someone else, but Rolland understood it and was able to capture it. “That’s hard to do.”
Stidham said The Union’s decision to capture pieces of the past on film was in part a way to take the paper’s archives and put them into a concise history for generations to see.
“Putting those stories into a different media format so that people can see it in a different way, hear it in a different way. So, the whole idea was really story telling. Capturing the stories that your grandmother told or that she heard from her grandmother … was that true about Black Bart, was that true about Lola Montez … all these stories that were passed down — a lot captured in the newspaper — but the storytelling aspect was a little bit different for us,” Stidham explained, adding, “There is something about telling history in stories that make the history stick.”
Events Manager Deana Graydon came on board when the project was already underway. “It was really fun. I had no idea what producing was like. We jumped into it, and it was a really cool experience.”
Both Graydon and Stidham emphasized viewers will be surprised to learn how involved Nevada County was in the 19th Amendment. Another piece, for Stidham, is how relevant the topic remains, “In 100 years, it’s shocking to me about how little has changed,” she said.
“It’s a really interesting story told by local celebrities,” said Graydon. The evening will begin with suffragettes protesting for voting rights outside of the theatre. “We are encouraging people to dress up as suffragettes and get involved in the protest before the film begins,” she said.
The team utilized the expertise of the Nevada County Historical Society. “I don’t feel like we could have done any of the films without them,” Stidham noted. “We were able to read the actual letters between Aaron and his wife. They are right here and are available to anyone interested in going in to see them.”
Another aspect was learning and acknowledging the complicated nature of people. “As humans, we are complicated. You look at someone like Aaron Sergeant and you think he was a great man but there was more to him and some of it was not so great,” said Stidham. “Someone can do really good things and still not be someone we look at and admire, but incredible history was made because of that person. So, looking at all the history — good and bad — and educating people on what really happened is important.”
Following the premiere, the director will be available for a Q&A period. COVID-19 safety protocol will be in place with the theater seating at 50% of capacity and it is expected to sell out. Masks are required. Movie treats and beverages will be available. To reserve your tickets, call Deana Graydon at 530-477-4241 or write to email@example.com.
Stidham concluded, “I am so excited for people to see it. It really will sit with people in a really profound way.”
Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire, as well as a podcaster at HollieGrams. You can hear her episodes at https://www.buzzsprout.com/1332253. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
KNOW & GO
WHO: The Union, directed by Andrew Rolland
WHAT: “Golden Stories of Our Past: Women’s Suffrage” premiere
WHEN: Friday, Sept. 10, at 6:30 p.m.
WHERE: Nevada Theatre, 401 Broad St, Nevada City
TICKETS: Call Deana Graydon at 530-477-4241 or write to email@example.com
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