The successful transfer of the enormous collection from the Museum of Funeral Customs in Springfield to the Kibbe was just the beginning of the work that must be done — the collection had to be properly stored, cataloged, and displayed. For help, the museum turned to the chairman of the history department at Western Illinois University, Dr. Greg Hall. After visiting the museum to review the possibilities for some mutually beneficial projects, he approved the museum as an internship site for WIU graduate history students. The two priorities for the 2011-2012 academic year were the funeral customs collection and the Lincoln exhibit under development.
As soon as Marlaina Haberman, originally from Beardstown, IL, heard of this opportunity, she knew she had to be a part of it. Her first assignment was to reviewed and organize a 12 foot high stack of papers that included a variety of subjects including lithographs, architectural drawings, documentary photographs, and marketing materials. She was also trained in the use of the museum management software called Past Perfect so that she could upate the location of these materials.
Having “eaten her vegetables” by working in the archives, she was next assigned to the “dessert course” — the mourning jewelry portion of the new Lincoln exhibit. Using the knowledge gained in her first assignments, she located appropriate items for the exhibit and designed the arrangement of the artifacts. The results of her work will be on display when the Lincoln exhibit opens on 14 April 2012.
She is excited to help tell the story of our local area, by placing it in the larger context of the Civil War and the story of the Lincoln years. When Marlaina was a little girl, her aunt and Dad would tell her stories of her family and inspired her to pass those stories and documents along, not only to her family, but they stressed preserving the past as a whole. It was their inspiration that led her to pursue a career as a museum education co-coordinator, to help bridge the classroom with the history of a museum or be the director of a small history museum. She also hopes one day to have her own genealogy business.