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Campus Corps students contribute to Beaverhead County history

UMW News Bureau

Historical photo of Montana StreetEvery year, hundreds of college students travel to Dillon, Mont. from near and far. Many of them have probably never seen Dillon before they arrive, much less know anything about the town they will be living in while attending the University of Montana Western.

Through a new collaboration with the Montana Western Campus Corps and Beaverhead County Museum, students are beginning to take an active role in learning about the history of Dillon and the surrounding area by archiving that history for the museum.

Campus Corps volunteer Chelsea Pippin spent much of the fall 2009 semester working in the Beaverhead County Museum. She helped museum employees organize, photocopy, and catalogue files and photographs in the museum’s archives. While working on this project, she learned how to properly preserve original photographs and files so they will be available for future access.

"It's important to preserve history to make sure it's there so people not only have access to it but are able to find the documents they need," said Pippin. Charles Niblack Store corner of Idaho and Bannack

As a former history major, Pippin said she enjoyed browsing through the archives learning more about Dillon’s history and being able to see pictures of what the town looked like in the past.

Matt DeVries, another Campus Corps volunteer, began to volunteer at the museum in March. Instead of cataloguing the history the museum has stored, he will be writing a guidebook.

“It will be interesting to write an historical nonfiction book,” said Devries. “I’m an English major, so the project is right up my alley.”

DeVries will be picking up the project where Montana Western history major Kenny Wait left off. Wait began working on the guidebook for his senior internship. Because the museum is not big enough to have tour guides explain the exhibits to guests, a guidebook will serve as a consistent visitor guide.

There will be two versions of the guidebook, Wait explained. One will be sold in the museum gift shop, and a smaller one will be available for guests to take along on their tour through the museum. Both guidebooks will explain the history of the different exhibits.

“Service sites like the museum give students an opportunity to apply their education in a field they might pursue later,” said Jon Stephani, Campus Corps team leader. “The museum has given Chelsea and Matt a chance to not only help their community but also learn the history of they place they’re going to be living in while attending school at Montana Western.”