History—Relevant to More than You’d Think!

By Elizabeth, Preserve WV AmeriCorps6b6d4de3-31ea-4fce-9250-b416894b5186

History—Relevant to More than You’d Think!

The Marshall County Historical Society Museum, based in Moundsville, WV, is Marshall County’s primary resource for anyone interested in local history, genealogy, or just a chance to indulge in the same nostalgia you felt when you visited your grandmother’s house as a child. Featuring exhibits on Fostoria glass, local coal history, and how people lived in nineteenth century West Virginia (featuring an 1880s buggy!), the museum is a fascinating glimpse into the past for anyone who has even a casual interest in history.

However, the Marshall County Historical Society actively tries to show the local community that history is for everyone, and is so much more than weighty textbooks and easily forgotten dates. In May, the museum began a yearlong partnership with the John Marshall High School’s Public Relations course, taught by Jonna Kuskey. Working with Mrs. Kuskey, the students decided to produce updated promotional materials and new exhibition text for the museum’s permanent exhibit. Featuring themes and objects curated by Elizabeth James, the AmeriCorps service member serving through the Marshall County Historical Society, students were able to get hands-on experience with real historical objects.

With a broad collection including everything from 1870s daguerreotypes to medals of honor and farm tools, the students were able to look at artifacts that would have been part of everyday life for many of their ancestors. History became something far more than merely words on a page. Students laughingly read pithy signatures in early twentieth century yearbooks, tried on an antique horsehair coat and pair of glasses, and shared in the common struggle to read nineteenth century handwriting.137df9bb-1228-4734-9119-c89b422e33f4

With these interactions, history became an experience that could be directly connected to their lives today. The students walked away from the museum with an appreciation for how normal things that we do every day will, in one-hundred years, be history to students exactly like them. To really emphasize this point, the students were given a crash course in handling historic papers, objects, and unique artifacts, like daguerreotypes. Examining papers like an 1895 electric bill, students realized what kind of information could be lost by simply throwing away something that is seemingly disposable, and how to save papers and objects that they would like to save for the future.

The project should last throughout the year, giving the students time to delve deeply into their chosen topics. With an anticipated opening date of spring 2016, the students will work with the Marshall County Historical Society Museum to research, photograph, and install the exhibition, giving them experience being historical curators and researchers. As a result of the enthusiastic response on behalf of the students, the Marshall County Historical Society Museum plans to partner with other subjects seemingly unrelated to history at John Marshall High School, as well as continuing their work with John Marshall history courses.

AmeriCorpsThe Marshall County Historical Society Museum is open from 10am to 3 pm on Thursday and other hours by appointment. To reach the Marshall County Historical Society, call 304-845-0411 or email cockaynehouse@gmail.com.

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