Everyday people: Buganski has a special interest in the Civil WarDiane Buganski is comfortable in history. At work as the outreach coordinator and in the research library for the Goodhue County Historical Society, she helps other people discover the past.
By: Danielle Killey, The Republican Eagle
Diane Buganski is comfortable in history.
At work as the outreach coordinator and in the research library for the Goodhue County Historical Society, she helps other people discover the past.
Buganski assists locals, researchers and others looking for information, usually on genealogy or building histories.
The job is a good fit for her, she said.
“I like people to begin with, and there’s this common bond of history,” she said. “There’s a satisfaction when you do find something for somebody. It’s that hunting process.”
Her history career began when Buganski started as a tour guide for the historical society in Anoka County.
When she moved to Red Wing, she became a member and started volunteering at the Goodhue County History Center and eventually got a position there.
“Life has a way of an event leading you to places you never thought you’d be, but once you’re there you know that’s where you were supposed to be,” she said.
But her fascination with the past expands well beyond her career.
“Since I was young I’ve had a love of history,” she said. Her mother would take her to museums and art galleries around the Twin Cities as a child.
“Even in my time off now I could still go to museums and antique stores,” she said. “It’s so much a part of me.”
Her favorite time period is the Victorian era, and she said she has a special interest in the Civil War.
In fact, she often takes a step back to that time.
Buganski is a Civil War re-enactor, participating in a number of events around the Midwest portraying a nurse and cook from the 1860s.
There are a number of people she sees on a regular basis there, and they have become good friends.
“You’re in camp for several days you start forming real great relationships,” she said. “You’re all together sharing this hobby.”
She said she is lucky to have married a man who also is very interested in history — she and Tony Bianchi met at a Civil War re-enactment camp and go to events together.
When they were married a few years ago in Vasa, their wedding had a Civil War theme, complete with period clothing.
As a re-enactor, she’s learned that everything at events must be authentic, from the tents and cannons down to the undergarments. It keeps the scene realistic, and also contributes to the experience for those involved.
“When you start putting on all this clothing your mannerisms change,” she said. “You start seeing how these people lived their lives.”
It’s hard work, chopping wood, cooking with period utensils and sewing by hand. After returning from a weekend at the Civil War, modern conveniences regain their appeal, she said. But you also learn to appreciate the way of life, she said.
“You really get a feel for what our ancestors … went through to give us our comforts today,” she said. “And nothing tastes better than breakfast cooked over a campfire.”
Buganski has traced her family history through a number of times including during the Civil War, where three brothers in her family fought for the Union and one for the Confederacy.
“It split my family apart,” she said. “It’s a very sad commentary on what this war did to our country.”
Her experience has helped others along their journeys.
“I can relate to that brick wall you hit when researching your family history,” Buganski said. “I’ve been able to help people punch through that wall.”
Living in Red Wing, Buganski finds a way to experience history everywhere.
Being around historic maps and photos, Buganski said she can go into town and envision what it was like in another era.
She also is an amateur photographer and enjoys shooting historic buildings and abandoned farms in the area.
“The juxtaposition of a collapsed fallen-down barn and the beautiful scenery is so interesting,” she said.
Red Wing has a rich history, Buganski said.
“But people also can realize history is everywhere. It’s in your backyard,” she said. “There’s something there to be discovered.”
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