What People Do in Their Spare Time

Docent:  a person who leads guided tours esp. through a museum or art gallery (Webster).

Volunteer:  people who devote endless time and talent to things they are passionate about (ISM).

Editor’s note:  These folks are priceless to the museum, as they help to involve visitors with the exhibits through additional education.  They often have a special interest or passion in one aspect of the museum.

Such is the case with Jan Snowden.  She has volunteered for the Indiana State Museum for years, delighting children and adults with her rendition of Raggedy Ann.  In fact, Rags, the official Raggedy Ann Magazine highlighted her in their September issue.

 Through Snowden you’ll learn that this familiar American icon was developed by Johnny Gruelle for his daughter, Marcella.  She had an old hand-made rag doll and he drew a face on it one day to entertain her while she was sick. Pulling a book from his bookshelf, he combined the name from two separate James Whitcomb Riley poems,  “The Raggedy Man” and “Little Orphant Annie.” He said, “Why don’t we call her Raggedy Ann?” and so it was.   Though Gruelle was born in Illinois, James Whitcomb Riley is a beloved Hoosier author, giving some Indiana claim to Raggedy Ann and her pal, Andy.  There are dozens of Raggedy Ann and Andy books credited to Gruelle, as both author and illustrator.

Chief Curator Steps Out of the Corn

Take a couple of minutes and shoot over to YouTube to see the new video that the museum’s own Leslie Lorance just created about the mastadont dig this summer, up near Culver, Indiana.   If you think that scientists are just a bunch of fuddy-duddies, well, this video should help to change your mind 🙂  Here‘s the link.      

Recent Aquisitions

Have you ever dug though your grandma’s attic or your mom’s cedar chest and wondered at the bits and pieces of family history you found there?  Obviously those of us in the museum business have more than an average curiosity about such things.  And, we tend to get very excited about certain pieces of art or cultural or scientific history that make their way to us.  Here are some recent ones:

  • Handmade deerskin infant’s shoes from 1830.  Little Nancy Jane Oliver was carried through the woods as her family visited neighbors.  One shoe, which had been handmade by her father, was lost on the journey.  Years later, her brothers were clearing land and, in a squirrel’s nest within a tree they felled….they found the lost shoe!
  • Three costumes worn by members of The Jackson Five on a 1974 episode of “The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour”.  Also, two equipment trunks used by the group during tours in the 1970’s.
  • Hasbro GI Joe-series “Tuskegee Airman” action figure, belonging to 2nd Lt. Rayfield Anderson, Indianapolis, who served with the Tuskegee Airmen during WWII.  Anderson was a Crispus Attucks High School graduate.
  • Two of perhaps just a dozen working RCA CT-100 televisions known to exist.  This television, manufactured in Bloomington, IN in 1954,  was the first commercially viable color television ever produced.