This month I moved to Texas and started working at George Ranch Historical Park. While here I am living in a house provided by the park, together with another intern who works at the Fort Bend Museum in town. I spend three days a week working at the park either in the programs office or on one of the four historic sites. The other two days a week I spend at the collections facility helping to maintain the collections associated with the park.
The setup of the George Ranch Historical Park is very different from many places. The land and buildings are owned by The George Foundation but operated by the Fort Bend Museum Association.
The Historical Ranch tells the story of one family from the original 300 members of the Austin Colony that first settled Texas. This ranch passed for four generations though the female line of the family until the last generation had no living heirs. The foundation that was created during the last generation took over the land and uses the profits from it for charitable purposes.
The park has four main sites, each of which depicts life during a different time period. The Jones Stock Farm, which has a reconstructed Dogtrot cabin, covers the 1830s. The Ryon Prairie Site represents the 1860s and has a period house that was not owned by the family. The 1890s are depicted by the Davis Victorian Site, a family house that was moved to this site from in town, and the 1930’s by the George Cattle Complex, which has a family house remaining on its original site, which was also the site of the first two houses. There is also a sharecropper’s house from the 1890’s to portray the lives of less privileged persons at the time.
In my first month on the Ranch I have done a number of things on my days with the programs office. I have started work on my long term project (organizing research about the family into one easy to understand location that is accessible to staff and volunteers) and I have also helped out with organizing the period clothing closets.
Another task I have been doing is spending time at the different sites to familiarize myself with them and be able to lead tours and help with programs as needed.
In the time I have spent at the collections facility I have also had the chance to do a number of things like add objects to the collections database as well as photograph them for the database and write condition reports on objects to go into a temporary exhibit in the visitor center. I have also worked on processing and numbering objects that were not yet accessioned. I have started work on my collections project to process the Clark Berry Papers which have been stored in the archive section for a couple of years without being fully gone through.
In addition to these typical tasks I have attended a board meeting (open to staff) held this month to go over last year’s financial report for the Fort Bend Museum Association. That same day I attended an art exhibit opening at the Fort Bend Museum. The other out of hours activity I participated in was to attend the Southeast Texas Museum Association (SETMA) quarterly meeting which was held on a site off the Gulf of Mexico.
Overall I have had the opportunity to do many different things and learn quite a bit this month.