More people from outside the area are visitors to the museum than local people, according to Lou Ann Moudry, curator.
Grade school children tour the museum. In the Pacific Pod from Washington middle school, each student has an individual research project as part of their history class delving into local history.
School children study ancient history, world history, national history and state history, but few ever go into local history. Years ago when I was in school we didn't study any local history either. With the phenomenal population growth in this area, local history is completely new to many transfers, such as myself.
However, years ago, parents and grandparents tended to stay in the same general area, and some of the local history and politics were discussed over the dinner table, so it was absorbed through listening ears.
The local children, whose ancestors have trod the highways and byways of Crow Wing county are ignorant of some of the happenings, because with both parents working, and the many activities in which the children are involved, mealtime is eat and run.
In 1923, Leon Lum, in his will, bequested money to start an historical society. Five people did the planning and organizing of the Crow Wing County Historical Society. The original society, which opened in 1931, was housed in the old county courthouse located on North 4th Street. Later than year it was moved to the present courthouse. The curator during the 1930s was Sara Thorpe Heald. During this time a WPA, research project gathered biographical material on the county's early residents, their schools, churches. And cemeteries, townships and cities. Ms. Anna Himrod was active in writing an unpublished history of Crow Wing County for the WPA.
Lack of funds caused the museum to be closed from 1942 to 1945.
When the new Law Enforcement Center was built, the question of using the old sheriff's office and county jail as a building to house the Crow Wing County Historical Museum was placed on the ballot, and was passed. Volunteers renovated the sheriff's office and residence, and gutted the old cell block. The new museum opened in 1983. It is handicapped accessible by ramps throughout. The Crow Wing County Museum also owns several buildings at the fairgrounds. These are the old log cabin, the one room school house and the caboose. Because of their age they need knowledgeable volunteers for upkeep and repairs.
Present curator of the museum is Mary Lou Moudry. Her education to become a curator was a B.A. from Hamline University in anthropology and cultural studies. She served her internship at the Science Museum in St. Paul. Continuing education includes studies in conservation of artifacts and exhibit design, and the preserving fabrics and leather. She also has to have knowledge of payroll, sales tax, writing grants and fund raising.
Mary Lou has an assistant, Jolene Pasch, who serves as a director. She has a degree in history and is very interested in preserving history for posterity.
There are 36 volunteers and 11 members on the board of directors. The volunteers have been oriented to the museum, and volunteer as tour guides and work in the gift shop and in the research library.
In the research library copies of newspapers are preserved on microfilm. There is a photo collection, a biography file for genealogy research, histories of local organizations, and vertical files to hold pictures. Housed in their archives are the ledgers from the Gull River Lumber from the 1880s.
Acid-free paper and acid-free boxes can be purchased from the museum for anyone wishing to preserve their own memorabilia. Clothing and anything made of fabrics need to lie flat, so as not to create stress on the garment from the weight of the fabric.
Plans are for "Developing Quarters." This plan is to have interested local residents, and Crow Wing County Historical Society members fill and donate a small 35mm film canister with quarters, and drop them off at convenient special drop off sites. These donations will help maintain and expand the museum.
From the $500 bequest that established a museum to the efforts of many interested and concerned citizens of Crow Wing County, the museum now occupies three floors of Crow Wing County history that is on display for anyone interested. These displays change with the holidays and seasons. One visit is just not enough, because, memories are made of this.
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