History Is… Tours tell us that while world changes, people really don’t

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 9, 2005

By Bev Jackson, Historical Society executive director

The sun is shining, the snow has melted, the mallards are searching for nests in unusual places, and the museum staff is preparing for the spring school tours. A significant part of that preparation is the request for tour guides.

Each year almost 1,000 children visit the museum and historical village in May. For many of them it is the first time they have had the opportunity to see a country school house, or a log cabin, or a piece of horse drawn farm equipment. The village is a whole new world, ahnost like visiting another planet. When we describe the general store as an old-fashioned Wal-mart, they begin to understand that while our world changes, people really don’t change all that much.

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Letters that we receive following the tours are often a real eye-opener to the guides, and we smile at the impressions the children take away from their tours. The following notes will give you a little idea of what happens.

“Thank you so much for letting us come to the museum. It was very interesting. I didn’t know that you could not be married or have children if you were a school teacher. I didn’t know how to tell that the church was Norwegien either. I think the upside down boat design is very cool. I liked the church. My favorite place was outside the buflding where Marion Ross has her handprints. It was also fun learning about Eddie Cochran. I thought everyone did an awesome job teaching all of us. I had a lot of fun. Sincerely, Samantha”

“My favorite thing that we saw was the pony. I learned that you have to go out to get water. Mackenzie”

“The coolest thing there was the school. Its werid how they all went to school at the same time but different grades. Sincerly, Ty”

“I would like to Thank You for all the things you taught us. The most intesting was the kitchen room. The thing prable made it better was that I have most of the things he talked about. My teacher Mr. Larson say, ‘That he always learns something new there. I hope you teach more people. Thank You. Sincerely, Josselyn”

“I was in the group with the jean jacket. And the person who kept asking questions and talking. Courtney”

“Dear Blacksmith guy, You tought our class a lot about working with metal. I liked it when you put the hot metal in the water when it went ssssss. Sincerely, Jordon&uot;

“…the School has to many rules, like no talking. Sincerely, Samantha&uot;

“Dave Frame didn’t just tell us the names of things in the kitchen, we had to figure it out before he explained it. He did well in knowing information. Sincerely, Jill”

“If I could have I would’ve stayed longer and learned more, but unfortunately we couldn’t. I think you guys couldn’t have done better and guys keep the place nice and neat. I hope I get to come again. Thank you. Sincerely, Taylor”

“What was interesting was when I got to learn when kids were bad they got a hit on the hands with a ruler and got a stitching from their dad. Sincerely, Tyler”

“I think that for next year you should have chairs at every staytion and more time. In the school we should do some work. Sencily, Kyle”

“If it was my opinion I would have the historical museum open every singal day for the rest of my life. Thank you for letting us come. Sincerely, Nicole”

“Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to let my school come to the museum. I know you must be very busy, and we all are very grateful that you helped us learn more about Freeborn County. Would you also say ‘thanks’ to all of the other volunteers that taught us about the past? Without all of you, the museum wouldn’t be here and all of us kids would be clueless on our county’s history. Thanks for an of the time that you spent on us!! Sincerely, Kacy”

When prospective guides call the museum inquiring about doing tours, they often say, “But I really don’t know a lot about Freeborn County history.” Our response is, “If you are more than 10 years old, you know a lot more about history than the students who visit us in the spring. If you have an interest in children and enjoy helping them learn, you will be an excellent guide.”

We have a tour guide training session planned for Wednesday, April 20, at 9 a.m. You will have the opportunity to watch a tour guide suggestion video from the Smithsonian Institute, to find out the basic process for elementary tours of the historical village, to visit with museum guides, and to learn from their experiences. We have prepared a handbook of information on the various buildings in the historical village, and we also suggest that you follow two guides before you begin doing tours on your own.

Attending this session is not a commitment. It is the opportunity for you to find out if this is something that you might like to try, and to meet others who enjoy working with children and sharing their own personal history.

If you are interested, please call the museum at 373-8003, then plan to share the morning of April 20 with us. The coffee and doughnuts will be waiting.

(Bev Jackson is the executive director of the Freeborn County Historical Museum.)