Grace College Students Preserve Community Heritage With Museum Internships

History Majors Caleb Day and Jeff Watkins evaluate documents in the Reneker Museum of Winona History

History majors at Grace College are spending eight weeks during the spring semester working at the Reneker Museum of Winona History. The internships were designed to help students learn valuable professional skills and practical knowledge while helping support the fascinating heritage of the Winona Lake community.

The program was offered as part of a class on Historical Preservation taught by Associate Professor of History, Dr. Jared Burkholder and counts toward a students’ applied learning credits. The students’ tasks include sifting through hundreds of documents and artifacts at the museum, located in Westminster Hall, cataloging what they find, and making decisions about sound storage and handling practices.

The original mission of the Reneker museum, which was created in 1999 under the direction of Steve Grill and Carol Forbes, was to reach out to the community. This new effort is a continuation of this mission, and the materials will be preserved for researchers and future generations. It is also part of a larger effort by Grace College to improve its archival holdings, which also include materials related to the college and seminary as well as the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches.

“Working as an intern at the Reneker Museum has given me an opportunity to experience history first-hand,” said Nina Ferry, student intern. “Dealing with artifacts and documents that make Winona Lake so significant in American evangelical history has given me the opportunity to discover Winona’s rich past and also the colorful personalities that called Winona Lake home for so many years. As a history major, it has sparked an interest in me for historic preservation and museum work as I have been introduced to the importance of historical preservation and conservation. Keeping local history alive is the key to preserving a town’s heritage to inform and inspire future generations.”

“Grace College believes The Reneker Museum of Winona History is a community gem, packed with interesting stories about our wonderful community,” explained Dr. Steve Grill, Dean of the School of Adult and Community Education. “Volunteers have helped to make the museum available to the public since its inception, and today Grace College interns are working right alongside to keep our treasure in the community spotlight.”

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