My name is Jack Schuld and I am a history major and anthropology minor at ISU. History has been a subject of great interest to me since my childhood. That being said, my decision to study history in college came naturally. Even though I knew I wanted to study history, deciding what to do with my degree is still a question I have trouble answering. My original plan was to go into the education field to teach high school. However as my academic experience progressed I became less certain that the classroom is where I wanted to end up. When I started my senior year last fall I began to search for other options that would suit my interests. A friend of mine suggested that I should visit the museum and apply for an internship. This should have been an obvious choice for me, but prior to this past year I had spent little time in downtown Bloomington. I was simply not aware that an opportunity to work in a museum was an option for me. Excited at the idea of gaining museum experience, I took her advice and was accepted as an intern in the museum’s library. I began my internship at the start of the 2015 spring semester.
Since then my job at the museum has been to organize the Morrell family collection. The Morrell family are longtime residents of McLean County and their belongings do well to help picture Bloomington through the ages. The collection was donated by a friend of the family last August and it contains a wide variety of materials, such as personal letters, financial records, last wills, college notebooks, and much more. When I first began organizing the collection, it was a mess to say the least. Now when I look at all these documents organized into their designated folders I can literally see my progress at work.
My favorite part about the collection is the vast amount of personal letters to and from family members and friends. The family had kept a collection of letters between George Morrell and his wife, Harriet. Their correspondence began long before they married; between 1898-1900, the couple wrote to each other regularly. Reading these letters helps paint a picture of what daily life was like over a century ago. This window to the past also shows how drastically different dating was in that time. Interestingly enough, another similar set of letters is included in the collection. George’s son in law, Richard Riggs, wrote a vast amount of letters to his future wife and George’s daughter, Beatrice. Richard’s letters span from 1924-1932. Richard’s letters describe his daily life and include aspects of his work and social activity, but above all his affection for Beatrice. In my opinion these two sets of letters are some of the most valuable material in the collection. The contents of their letters show what people in the late 19th, and early 20th century cared about, and their dedication to each other is inspiring.
Now that my semester is nearly over and my time as an intern is coming to a close, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work in a top quality Museum. I know that my experience here will be of great help to me when I begin life after graduation.