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Welcome to the Living History Farms staff blog space! Living History Farms is a 500 acre, outdoor, agricultural history museum. Museum guests explore historic recreations of Iowa farms from the years 1700, 1850, and 1900, as well as the shops, artisan buildings and houses of Walnut Hill, a small farm to market community in 1875. We are also the proud conservators of the Flynn Mansion, originally built in the year 1870 by Martin and Ellen Flynn. Through demonstrations, hands-on activities, historic artifacts, and sensory experiences, our staff seeks to connect others with the Midwest’s rich cultural heritage.

In this blog, we invite you to follow along with our museum staffers, as they describe the work they do, the artifacts and animals they work with, and the history that inspires them every day. Our blog features writing by historical guides, curators, administrators and volunteers throughout the museum’s many work areas, each with their own personalities, perspectives and special expertise. As a staff, we firmly believe in a commitment to sharing experiences, working hard and keeping your sense of humor. We hope you will get to know us better through our writing and we encourage comments and questions. We enjoy the work we do and love being able to share it with others!

Here’s a quick look at a our museum’s historic sites and just a few of the staff members who bring them to life!

The 1700 Ioway Farm depicts the housing, food systems, technology and culture of the Ioway peoples living in the Iowa territory at the point of European contact.

Melinda - 1700 FarmSite Manager Melinda is a Central Iowa native and enjoys being able to introduce the complexity of the Ioway culture to museum visitors. Melinda has been eager to learn the handcrafts and language of the Ioway people.

The 1850 Pioneer Farm represents a newly established farm with a one room log house, split rail fences, and team of working oxen.

MikeSite manager Mike has been involved in Iowa agriculture for over 30 years and brings a love of primary sources, hands-on experience, and good humor to his museum presentations.

HilaryDomestic supervisor Hilary, a Pella native, has a personal interest in historic foodways and enjoys researching new recipes and hearth cooking techniques. She spends her work time sharing knowledge about 1850, but has a personal love of 1950 history as well!

The 1900 Horse-Powered Farm shows the changes brought to Iowa farmers through new technology and transportation. Farmers in the year 1900 took advantage of horse-drawn machinery and good railroad access, expanding their field size and buying new factory goods to furnish their homes.

KellySite Manager Kelly hails from Perry, Iowa. She is the first woman to hold the position of 1900 Farm Manager. Kelly has degrees in agricultural education and over 15 years of experience working with horses. She has a passion for growing things and teaching kids (and adults, too!) about agriculture.

ErinDomestic supervisor Erin shares the duties at the 1900 Farm. Erin grew up in west central Illinois with an appreciation for rural culture. She has a wide variety of 19th century interests, such as the changes brought on by the Industrial Revolution and a host of domestic skills, including cooking on a wood stove!

The 1875 era town of Walnut Hill recreates the small towns which dotted the Midwest in the 19th century, including the businesses and trades that provided needed goods to local farmers. Walnut Hill’s merchants include a printer and newspaper publisher, an agricultural implement dealer, a druggist, a milliner, and a general store owner. Artisans include a cabinetmaker, blacksmith and broom maker. The professionals in town are a doctor, a lawyer, and a banker. A school and church are also part of the community. Visiting the shops and craftsmen in town you might meet:

DaveDave, the trades building supervisor, brings many years of teaching wood-working and metal crafts to students of all ages. A northern Iowa native, Dave grew up on a family farm before beginning a career in teaching industrial arts.

NicoleNicole, the shops supervisor, might be found in many of the Walnut Hill shops. Her love of Victorian fashion comes through in the Millinery, but she still enjoys being able to get messy doing 19th century chemistry in the Drug Store.

The Tangen House in Walnut Hill shows the middle class life style of shop keepers and businessmen. Built to represent the family that would own the Implement Dealership, the Tangen House recreates domestic activities and children’s life in the 1870s.

cake viLucy, Tangen Supervisor, began her work at LHF with the museum day camps. She is a an Iowa native and history lover who loves being able to interest even our youngest museum guests in the past.

The Flynn Mansion, original to the museum property, was built in 1870 as an elegant farm home. Martin and Ellen Flynn, after making their fortune in railroad construction, operated a large and successful farm on the property. The house is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

KateKate, Flynn Mansion Supervisor, loves sharing local history knowledge, Victorian etiquette rules and 1875 cultural history with guests. A Des Moines metro native, she has adopted the Flynn family as her own.

Behind the Scenes:  The many classes, camps, programs and exhibits showcased at the museum require collections care, program planning, and clothing care.

LuisLuis, LHF’s Collection’s Manager and Registrar, joined the museum staff in 2014 with a passion for caring for the historical artifacts displayed throughout the museum. With a passion for historic machinery, you might find him out in the summer working on the mid-20th century machinery and tractor collection.

JanetJanet, Director of Museum Interpretation, is celebrating her 20th year at the museum. She works in front of the public in many of the historic sites but is also responsible for program planning and development, as well as museum guide training and evaluation.

LauraLaura, Period Clothing Shop Supervisor, and millinery site lead brings a wealth of sewing expertise and historical fashion knowledge to the museum. Laura, affectionately known as the Period Clothing Police, creates the period clothing and hats worn by staff throughout the museum.

Dan-Jones-02-RDan, a long-time Iowa educator, is responsible for developing, coordinating, and evaluating the many classes, field trips, and enrichment opportunities for learners of all ages. You might also be lucky enough to meet Dan in the broom shop—just don’t let yourself get swept up in his work!

ChristaChrista has been directing the popular LHF day camps for several years. She has a science background and Texas roots, but has allowed Iowa’s rural culture to claim her heart. Christa enjoys introducing children of all ages to the great outdoors—whether it’s milking a cow or splashing in the creek!

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