As we enter this next season of thankfulness, we at the Plainsman Museum would like to take the time to give thanks for our many volunteers who help make our mission possible! To help give a further glimpse into the work of our volunteers, we have asked several of our regular volunteers to answer some questions about what they do here at the museum, and will be featuring them in a series of blog posts for the next few weeks. Today's featured volunteer is Jane Nunnenkamp!
Q: When did you first visit the Plainsman Museum?
"I first visited the Plainsman when it was a new museum in 1976. I had also visited its predecessor in what became the Tim Otto House in 1971 - the year that I got married and moved to Aurora. I was very impressed by the layout and the presentation in the Plainsman's new building."
Q: When did you start volunteering here?
"I believe it was in 2018. I left employment at the library at the end of 2017, and then I went for several months simply doing things at home. But got to feeling pretty useless, so I thought, 'Well, I'll pop in and see if Tina can use me at the museum,' and she very graciously said she could!"
Q: What work do you usually do as a volunteer at the museum? What's your favorite thing to do as a volunteer?
"I have been cataloguing the large collection of probate files that have been transferred from the courthouse and are here for permanent storage. I've been reviewing those files, making sure that everything is in place in them, that the files aren't falling apart, and also determining the death dates for the next step of cataloguing all the files so that genealogists can have an easier time of looking up relatives. I also survey the newspapers for articles of interest to the community; significant things in the life of Hamilton County, especially Aurora. And I enjoy anything to do with history, and those two things - probates and history - are the things I've done here, so I guess those two are my favorite things. If anything else develops, they will probably also be my favorite things!"
Q: What skills have you applied while volunteering at the museum? Were there any previous job or life experiences that you were able to draw form to do your work here?
"Well, I have applied attention to detail, alphabetizing, reading, and my lifelong interest in history encourages me to make my contribution to the museum and to make it helpful to genealogists and other curious people. Previous job or life experiences would have to include grade school, when I learned the alphabet very well, and also how to write my numbers and to write clearly."
Q: Tell us about one of your favorite artifacts or exhibits here at the museum!
"Currently, my favorite exhibit at the museum is my wedding dress and my husband's wedding suit on display! I am very grateful for that - I enjoy getting to show them to family and friends when I get the opportunity, and they are suitably impressed also! And I enjoy the log cabin and the sod house, probably in connection to my lifelong love of the Little House on the Prairie books, and other historical books like that from my childhood. They are very well done, and very evocative of that time."
Q: What's been one of your fondest memories of your time here at the museum?
"Well, my time here doesn't seem as long as it has been, but I work with and near a number of interesting, ambitious, and faithful staff members and volunteers. I sometimes see the men from the shop going back and forth, I have been in the Ag Building and watched them working and listen to them discussing things, and it's very interesting and very encouraging that all of these people are so involved. And here in the Main Building itself, the volunteers that come and clean and work and catalogue and contribute all sorts of things, their examples encourage me at the museum and at home in my downtime. Joanie was saying that sometimes after all of her organizational work here, she goes home and thinks, 'I should organize that. I have a pretty organized household, but we do have some spaces that need organization.' And I said, 'I'm always inspired that way, too!' Sometimes things don't get done, but I have good intentions.
"This is a fantastic museum for a town the size of Aurora! And when I have mentioned it to other people who have visited the museum - some friends and relatives that I have personally conducted through the museum and made a comment to about that - it's been remarked back to me that I don't have to qualify it by saying, 'for a town of this size. It's a great museum for a town of ANY size!' And that's very gratifying to hear, because I have always loved this museum!"