For several years, DeForest Area Historical Society vice president Amie Mink has taken historical artifacts out to DeForest area schools to share with the children. “The students love seeing what I bring and ask for more,” says Mink. “History is so very important that the De Forest Area Historical Society would like to offer it to the entire school and as many schools as possible.”
So Mink is now engaged in an exciting new initiative, setting up display cases to showcase artifacts in the schools. Unlike a one-time presentation, these displays will remain in place for students and others to see again and again.
This fall Mink has arranged for the first display cases of artifacts to be placed in the two libraries at DeForest Area Middle School. “Every case will show a different exhibit, i.e. toys, kitchenware, football memorabilia, etc., to tell a story,” Amie says. She plans to rotate the exhibits every two months.
Currently at the middle school there is an exhibit about kitchen life for a 10 or 11 year old and another about school days. Additional exhibit display cases will be placed at other schools in the district in the near future.
For telling the stories about the local history, Mink will be including artifacts, manuscripts, books, and photographs from the Hansen-Newell-Bennett House, Lyster House, DeForest Railroad Depot, and Archival Center at the DeForest Area Library. The Hansen-Newell-Bennett House, located at 119 East Elm Street in DeForest, includes several permanent displays, including historical information on the early schools, churches, and businesses in the area.
According to Historical Society Archivist-Curator John Engelsby, Mink got the idea for the project at a Local History and Historic Preservation Conference she attended. A student of one of the speakers had the idea of taking history to people at the mall. She thought this could work in the schools.
Costs for the exhibits will be paid for in part from a bequest made to the historical society by long-time resident and DAHS Board Member Judy Ewald. “I think she would have appreciated this,” Mink says.
For more information about the DeForest Area Historical Society, visit their website at www.deforesthistory.org. The historical society hosts an open house at the Hansen-Newell-Bennett House the second Sunday of the month from June through October.