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Lifetime of learning leads to life of writing local history

June 06, 2004|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

WAYNESBORO, PA.

Jackie Barlup doesn't understand why anyone would want to write a newspaper story about her life.

"What's newsworthy about me?" she said.

Barlup's name often shows up as the author of some historical research document or pamphlet about Waynesboro, its architecture or its people.

Barlup, 73, and her husband, Louis Barlup Jr., Waynesboro's mayor, were married in August 1949. She retired as a teacher in the Waynesboro Area School District in 1993. She also taught at Shippensburg (Pa.) University.

She has a Ph.D. in library science. She said that in her heyday, women didn't have opportunities to advance into administrative positions like they do today, so she chose library science.

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Researching and writing about her local community was a natural fit with her professional life.

"As an educator, I always advocated a lifetime of learning," she said. "Reading, research, writing and learning are all intertwined. There is a vast expanse of knowledge in the world and the small amount I have absorbed hardly amounts to anything."

One of her earliest research efforts was a 1968 brochure on the history of Trinity United Church of Christ.

Subsequent projects over the years included two histories of the Waynesboro Rotary Club, one in 1987, the other in 1995. She's working on the Rotary's 100th anniversary.

She spread examples of her work on a patio table in her newly enclosed back porch. They covered a third of the table.

Barlup held up a file folder, several inches thick, filled with proclamations and commendations that her husband, as mayor, has issued over the years.

She researched and wrote them all.

"I have to research the subjects so I can make them as personal as I can," she said.

A recent commendation was written for a Waynesboro woman who turned 106. Barlup researched the woman's life for a commendation that her husband presented to her in honor of her long life.

Her most ambitious work to date was a book on Waynesboro's bicentennial celebration in 1997. The book, titled "The Waynesboro Journey, 200 Years of History," has become an official elementary school textbook, said a former teaching colleague of Barlup's.

Other local writers and historians have mined Barlup's bicentennial history.

Dave Thompson wrote "Around Waynesboro," a photographic history of the area, last year.

"I found Jackie's book useful for my captions," he said.

Andrea Struble, a former member of the board of directors of the Waynesboro Historical Society, said people use her research regularly.

Struble said Barlup did an architectural survey of downtown Waynesboro in the early 1990s. The plan at the time was to make the downtown eligible to become a historic district.

"I do it and then I forget about it," Barlup said. "That's why learning something is always so intriguing. So many people have the ability, but don't even try."

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