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IC students gain hands-on experience working with new museum

1.12.2022

Illinois College students and faculty are known for building relationships with area organizations as students gain hands-on experience and serve the community. But within a few short months — and before it even opened — IC students have been involved in several projects at the new Jacksonville Area Museum, exemplifying the different experiences that help students Graduate READY for their future careers.

Internships

Seniors Tim Blackwell ’22 and McKenna Servis ’22 were selected for competitive paid internships in the summer of 2021. 

In addition to being very involved in helping with the museum’s opening, Servis continued to work at the museum in the fall as an intern with the MacMurray Foundation, as well as the museum. Her work eventually led to an offer to become the museum’s manager. Servis is majoring in political science and history, with a concentration in public history, and plans to finish her degree at IC and pursue a master’s degree while helping the museum grow.

So far, Servis said the experience has exposed her to all aspects of the work she plans to do in her career: from processing and storing collections, to digitizing collections and using technology, to hanging portraits and assembling display cases, to climbing ladders and cleaning. Because of her close work with the MacMurray Foundation, she was also very involved with the layout and assembly of MacMurray Hall within the museum.

“This experience was a very impactful one for me. I had never had any experience in this type of museum before, especially at this early stage, so being able to apply the skills I learned in the classroom on the job was incredible. It is rewarding to see all of the work that you've been putting into a college degree come to fruition in an experience like this.”

Research

Sociology majors Anna Bezler ’22, Ana Cacho ’23, Gloria Simon ’23 and John Sullivan ’23 are working closely with museum board member and MacMurray Foundation committee leader Tiffany Warmowski on a unique project to tell the story of what college life looked like during the second world war.

The MacMurray Student Archive Project will eventually result in an exhibit at the museum.

The students are assisting with the project as part of their senior capstone with Jaclyn Tabor, assistant professor of sociology. Beginning by scanning and transcribing WWII-era student files, the current IC students then drafted narratives describing the lives of MacMurray students who came to Jacksonville more than 70 years before them. They are currently identifying major themes in the student files and will present a report of their findings to the museum board at the end of the spring semester.

“These kind of data are so rarely available ⁠— this is a unique opportunity to capture a personal snapshot of college life in a bygone era,” Tabor said. The files include information about how students paid for college, what they were disciplined for, correspondence between their parents and the college, recommendation letters, and more. 

Service

During Hilltop Day of Service in August, Assistant Professor of Asian Studies Gwendolyn Gillson led her first-year seminar students in assisting with a lot of heavy lifting at the museum.

Students moved boxes and other items from the main floor to the basement, rehoused files to better storage, and helped with cleaning. They also had the opportunity to see MacMurray College yearbooks from the early 20th century.

And IC students Sunday Bobori ’21 and Zihang Jiao ’22 volunteered at the museum in summer 2020. Bobori, who graduated in May with a degree in biochemistry, said he was glad to have the opportunity to help out and learn more about Jacksonville history.

Leadership

Samatha Sauer, Illinois College’s archivist, curator and assistant professor of history, is serving on the Heritage Cultural Center-Jacksonville Area Museum board.

Sauer said she hopes to foster more campus and community collaborations between the museum and IC. The College has loaned artifacts and materials to the museum for long-term display in its inaugural exhibitions, which include an exhibit about IC.

“This is an exciting time for Illinois College and IC students to continue to be public history partners and community collaborators,” Sauer said.

To learn more about IC’s public history program — which includes coursework in archival methods, museum studies, public history and digital history — visit www.ic.edu/public-history. The program uniquely calls upon IC’s historic campus collections housed in the Khalaf Al Habtoor Archives and Paul Findley Congressional Office Museum.

More information about the Jacksonville Area Museum is available at www.jacksonvilleareamuseum.org. The Jacksonville Area Museum is dedicated to the collection, preservation, interpretation and appreciation of the cultural history and heritage of the Jacksonville and Morgan County area.

“This experience was a very impactful one for me. I had never had any experience in this type of museum before, especially at this early stage, so being able to apply the skills I learned in the classroom on the job was incredible. It is rewarding to see all of the work that you've been putting into a college degree come to fruition in an experience like this.”
McKenna Servis ’22

About Illinois College

Founded in 1829, Illinois College is a residential liberal arts college fostering academic excellence rooted in opportunities for experiential learning while preparing students for lifelong success. The college is located in Jacksonville, Illinois. With an enrollment of more than 1,000 students, the college offers over 50 undergraduate programs. In 1932 the society of Phi Beta Kappa established a chapter at Illinois College, and it remains one of only 11 in the state.

Illinois College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association.

Visit www.ic.edu or call 217.245.3000 for more information.

Media Contact Information
Office of Marketing and Communication
Rosalind Essig | Senior Writer
217.245.3194 | rosalind.essig@ic.edu