Hi all! My name is Sydney Stapleton and I am from Oak Hill, Ohio and I am the full time Preserve West Virginia AmeriCorp member at the Harrison County Historical Society in Clarksburg, West Virginia. I graduated with a B.A. in Anthropology with a focus in archeology from Ohio University in August of 2016. I also have a minor in History and certificates in both Museum and European Studies.
I was able to have many opportunities at Ohio University. This summer I worked archeological dig in Wayne National Forest near Athens, Ohio. My final spring semester I also was able to create an exhibit at the Kennedy Art Museum at Ohio University, along with the rest of my Museum Studies class. Depending on each student’s interests, we selected to participate in a specialist group correlating with museum departments and staff positions. These included education, design, and registration/installation. I was a part of the registration/installation group where I worked hands on with the objects for the exhibit and the installation process. It was a great experience where I was able to really learn all that goes into getting an exhibit completed from start to finish. I also worked in the Digital Archives at Alden Library at Ohio University where I gained experience with photo digitization, working with online archives, and using social media for historically organizations. Lastly, I held a semester long internship at the Athens County Historical Society and Museum in Athens, Ohio. There I had hands on training with historical objects, including textile, photos, and paper documents.
When I decided on an anthropology major I was planning on doing something more directly related to the anthropology field, such as a field archeologist or a professor. However, working at the historical society and gaining experience within a museum cemented my plans to work in the museum field, specifically history or anthropology museums. Museums are a perfect mix of research, hands on work, and educating the public about the importance of history.
After graduating, I moved to New London, Wisconsin where I was a Temporary Collections Assistant at the New London Public Museum. I worked with four of the museum’s Native American artifact collections. I spent three months identifying, organizing, and accessioning projectile points, stone work, and worked copper into the museum’s collection.
I didn’t have any plans after moving back from Wisconsin but I have always wanted to do more volunteer and service work. Due to my busy schedule in both high school and college, I was not able to do as much as I would have liked. When I discovered AmeriCorps and specifically the positions with the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia I knew it was something that I would be very interested in. Being from Appalachia myself I feel that the history of this area is not always treated with the respect that it deserves and that its cultural importance is often overlooked. When I learned of the work that Preserve West Virginia was doing to preserve this history, I knew that it would be a perfect place to spend my time before graduate school while also helping the area that I have grown up loving.
I am excited to be serving at the Harrison County Historical Society. I believe that small, local history organizations are a great resource for communities and are often undervalued. I hope that I can use my skills and knowledge to help ensure that the community is aware of the wonderful resource they have in the historical society. I will be working to help gain new volunteers for the organization, working to accession and preserve objects from their collection, as well as working in the Stealey-Goff-Vance House, the house museum owned by the Historical Society. I aim to use my experiences to help grow the Harrison County Historical Society while also developing more skills to help with my future within the history and museum fields.