Monday, March 28, 2011

Dames to Docents March 26, 2011

Docents mingle during breakfast before the program begins.
This past Saturday, March 26, four representatives from The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in the State of Illinois (NSCDA-IL)  visited to speak to our docents about their organization and its relationaship to Clarke House Museum. The program was held in the Beidler Room of Glessner House Museum, located just north of Clarke House at 1800 S. Prairie Avenue.  Refreshments were served at 9:30 a.m. with the program running from 10 until 11:30 a.m.

The ladies on the panel all currently serve on the NSCDA-IL Museum Properties Committee, which oversees the collections housed at Clarke House Museum and greatly contributes to exhibits, public programming and educational initiatives. The Illinois Society was invited by the City of Chicago to furnish the recently relocated Clarke House in 1978. Since then, NSCDA-IL has been an intregal part of the restoration, preservation, and interpretation of Chicago's oldest structure.
Glessner House Museum Executive Director & Curator,
Bill Tyre, welcomes everyone to the Beidler Room.
Patriotic Service Chair Jean Perkins opened the morning's discussion with a history of The National Society of The Colonial Dames which was founded in 1891. At the core of NSCDA's mission is the preservation of historic propeties.  Jean informed the group that NSCDA owns and maintains more historic buildings than the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Jean continued to talk about the foundation of the Illinois Society in 1896, Fortnightly Club in Chicago, and the decision to take on Clarke House as the Illinois Society's museum property.

Jean Perkins (left) and Cami Burgess (right)
Cami Burgess, First Vice-President Membership, spoke about membership requirements to become a Dame. Membership is handled at the state level, depending on where one's ancestor lived. A Dame might be a member of the Illinois Society, but if her ancestor was from Virginia, for example, the approval of her paperwork would go through that Society. Ladies eligible for membership with NSCDA-IL are proposed by a current member and must prove lineage to an ancestor that contributed siginificantly to the original thirteen colonies.

 Mary Glerum, Docents & Education, talked about the Society's decision to contract museum consultants Jane and Richard Nylander for an assesment of Clarke House back in 2009. Their findings resulted in the Nylander Report, a thirty-two page document which outlines recommendations for improving interpretation at Clarke House. Mary Glerum is also a certified docent at Glessner House Musem who understands the impact the Nylander Report has had and will continue to have on tours, programming, and general interpretation. Mary also discussed plans for the 175th Anniversary Celebration taking place at Clarke House in September. The Dames are planning an evening gala event and symposium featuring the Nylanders as keynote speakers.

Marilyn Helmholz, Budget Chair, also sat on the Dames panel during the event and contributed much to the question and answer session held during the latter half of the program. The Dames answered questions posed by the Glessner House Museum Docents on the effects of the new furnishings plan to be implemented at Clarke House, period of interpretation, and plans for new acquisitions.

Assistant Curator, Becky Young, welcomes the Dames panel (left to right) Jean Perkins,
Cami Burgess, Mary Glerum, and Marilyn Helmholz.
 The Glessner House Museum staff and docents wish to extend a hearty thanks to the ladies of the Museum Properties Committee for their participation in Dames to Docents. We all eagerly look forward to working with them as the anniversary celebration approaches.

If you're interested in learning more about other properties maintained by The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America and their State Societies, check out these links:

NSCDA Museum Properties Map

Illinois Dames

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