Happy Holidays, readers! The Poco Muse is certainly in the holiday spirit and our staff is excited for the New Year. With the New Year comes new exhibits, and one of the first will be Making Her Place, an exhibit highlighting the important roles of women throughout the history of Porter County. The exhibit will be up in time for March, Women’s History Month, so keep a look out for announcements and programs related to this new exhibit.
The purpose of this Making Her Place blog is to give you a glimpse of the process that goes into researching and writing an exhibit. I’ll do my best to post the interesting things I find and my thoughts on all this information. More importantly, however, I’d love to get your input about this exhibit. The goal is to talk about local women, situating them within the larger contexts for women’s rights throughout the state and nation. We here at the Museum wish to enrich our community with your stories, and we encourage you to share your knowledge and stories with us through this blog or in person. So write in, give us a call, or stop by the Museum and tell us your stories today.
This exhibit has been in the works for a quite a few months now and a good deal of information has been collected. One of the first places I began to collect information was from the scrapbooks of Margaret Cameron Beer. Margaret was active in Porter County as a teacher at Central School for forty years, and as the first principal of Columbia School. She was a charter member of Valparaiso’s Mathesis Club, as well as the founder of the William Henry Harrison chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
These scrapbooks don’t look like much, and I’ll admit I was skeptical when Kevin pulled them out and called them a “treasure” of the Museum. In the 1917 scrapbooks, Margaret clipped out newspaper articles about two important events happening simultaneously. On one hand, the United States was entering World War I and the efforts to raise money and supplies for the troops were in full swing. On the homefront, women were heavily involved in the Red Cross and in promotions for the sale of bonds to support the war effort.
On the other hand, women’s suffrage was a polarizing topic throughout the county and the state of Indiana.
Margaret’s scrapbooks are a unique insight into her concerns. She cut out those articles that she thought were important to history; her exclusions and inclusion tell an important story of her life and her time. Her scrapbooks tell the story of a frustrated beginning to women’s suffrage in Indiana, as well as the extreme patriotism and community engagement that resulted from the beginning of the First World War.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my musings. Keep an eye out for other reflections on exhibits and life at the Poco Muse from our staff members, interns and volunteers.
Until next time,