Preserving Franklin Square’s history

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Franklin Square was first settled in the 1600s, and developed as a German-speaking farming community in the late 1800s. George Washington visited the community in 1790, and poet Walt Whitman taught at a local school in 1840. The community has a rich history, which was recently documented by two local Girl Scouts, in “Images of America: Franklin Square,” a book that will be published on Oct. 3.

Kiera Grassi and Hannah Mutum, of the West Hempstead-Franklin Square Girl Scout Association’s Troop 1422, set out to do a yearlong photographic survey of Franklin Square in 2010. The girls, who have been friends and Girl Scouts since Kindergarten and will be entering grade 11 at Carey High School in the fall, wanted to both preserve the present-day history of Franklin Square for future generations and earn a Girl Scout Gold Award — an accolade that requires Scouts to find a sustainable project in the community, as well as network with a community adviser they hadn’t previously met.

The girls took more than 5,000 photographs of around the community, of people, parades, street fairs, houses of worship, architecture, businesses and civic organizations. On Jan. 10, 2010 — which represents the town’s zip code, 11010 —they spent nearly 12 hours, taking more than 2,000 photos throughout the day. They also collected several artifacts, including menus, newspapers and church bulletins on that day. The girls organized all of their photos, and presented them to the Historical Society. For most Scouts, this would have been the end of an amazing project, but not for Grassi and Mutum.

While working on their photo project, the girls discovered that Arcadia Publishing had published books about the history of several Long Island communities — as part of its “Images of America” series — but not about Franklin Square. And since they were already learning about the community’s history through their photo project, they decided to work toward publishing a historic book of Franklin Square, as well.

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