Giving Thanks for Our Village

One of our Executive Director’s favorite non-Willard quotes is “It takes a village.” We approach the end of 2020 with gratitude for everyone who has made our work during this challenging year possible: staff, volunteers, interns, Board and Council members, and supporters far and wide. Without these villagers, we couldn’t have maintained Frances Willard’s “Do Everything” approach at the level we did this year. In this post we focus on the work of our staff, interns and volunteers – but we couldn’t do this work without organizational support from our leadership and financial support from our donors. 

Thank you to everyone for making our village full, functional and vibrant this year! 

The past year has shown vividly how our village works. Closed for tours and programs, we took a new direction by engaging graduate student staff and interns, working remotely, to create blogs, digital exhibits, and YouTube videos. Even while access to the Archives was limited, each project relied heavily on the Archives for source materials. This approach has given us a new and needed online presence, while also supporting students and providing essential education. And they have met the challenges with energy, ideas, and creativity.  

The resulting projects in various digital formats and venues proved that sharing our stories can happen against mighty odds. (For example, see intern Hannah Lahti’s project, completed remotely, which used our digitized transcription of Frances Willard’s journals to create an online exhibit). Here’s Hannah’s description of what her summer 2020 internship meant to her: 

“This internship allowed me to practice taking on a larger role for a project…I was pushed to work very independently…with the support and expectations of the professionals at the Frances Willard House. My expectations were exceeded as the staff welcomed me into their meetings, offered many opportunities for support, mailed resources, and even gave me a virtual tour!” 

Over the years, the list of projects completed by our interns and volunteers is lengthy, to say the least. As docents, taking inventories, organizing programs and exhibits, maintaining databases, sorting and organizing material, creating website and teaching material, writing blog posts, suggesting and implementing new ideas, helping us stay on top of trends…the amount of assistance we have received, and the number of projects accomplished is truly remarkable.  

Our village is not a one-way street. Our volunteers and interns, past and present, take something away with them, too. The staff devotes time and expertise to train, supervise, and mentor the interns and volunteers. As we thank them for what they have accomplished, we can also feel gratified that they have been able to benefit from the hands-on experience we provide.  

A quick search of LinkedIn revealed more than 20 mentions of work at the Frances Willard House Museum or WCTU Archives in the “experience” category of former volunteers and interns—many of whom were students at the time of their involvement. We can conclude that their experience with us was a significant addition to their resumes. Several, in fact, chose a career in museum, public history, or librarianship as a direct result.  

As Frances Willard said,  

“Alone, we can do little. Separated, we are units of weakness, but aggregated we become batteries of power.”  

To our recent and present volunteers and interns—thank you for your energy and support in difficult times. To those of the past—thank you for helping us accomplish foundational work toward our mission! And to the interns and volunteers of the future—welcome to our village!  

Here’s who inhabited our Village in 2020 – 

CWHL Board of Trustees  

  • Vickie Burke, President 
  • Doug Honnold, Vice President 
  • Susan Comstock, Treasurer 
  • Ann Balusek, Secretary 
  • Lois Anderson 
  • Sarah Ward 

Museum and Archives Advisory Council 

  • Vickie Burke (chair) 
  • Kathy Bell 
  • Juliet Bond 
  • Elizabeth Fraterrigo 
  • Tina Nolan 
  • Bonnie Wilson 

CWHL Staff 

  • Lori Osborne – Executive Director 
  • Elizabeth Davies – Financial Manager 

Frances Willard House Museum  

  • Director – Lori Osborne 
  • Museum Operations Manager – Cate LiaBraaten 
  • Volunteers – Sean Jacobson 

WCTU Archives  

  • Archivist – Janet Olson  
  • Assistant Archivist – Kristin Jacobsen 
  • Volunteers – Susanne Farrand, Carolyn Gifford, Maeve Shampine, Hannah Weinberg 

2020 Interns and Museum Fellows 

  • Summer – Hannah Lahti 
  • Fall – Elizabeth Schmidt 
  • Museum Fellow – Fiona Maxwell 

Thank you all!