Harlan-Lincoln House seeks volunteers to keep history alive

By Gretchen Teske, Mt. Pleasant News


The Harlan-Lincoln House is seeking volunteers to keep its history in Mt. Pleasant alive. Director Anna Villareal says it?s the volunteers who really keep the museum thriving.

?When you are invested in your history, you are the best advocate for your history,? she says. Villareal thinks getting locals who know the history and are willing to tell the story helps to keep the story alive. The three main ways people can volunteer are by being a docent, someone who gives tours, working in collections or events.

Docents research the home to be knowledgeable while giving tours. Volunteers that work in collections are directly involved with research. They are cataloging new information and artifacts as they come in and working behind the scenes to make everything flow smoothly. ?It?s a hands on experience, (but) kind of behind the scenes,? she says.

The Harlan-Lincoln House also hosts events and is seeking volunteers for that position also. ?These are the individuals who really help us and the museum grow,? she says.

Currently there are around 15 volunteers, but Villareal says there?s no limit to how many can volunteer or in how many ways. ?There?s never volunteer assistance that?s unwanted,? she said. ?We always appreciate when anyone can provide.?

They will take anyone high-school age or older, but are currently working on a junior docent program to serve younger students. She feels that getting local people interested will help keep the history relevant and spread the knowledge. ?One person can?t know it all,? she says. ?I love when people ask questions that I don?t know the answer to because it helps us dig deeper and find out what people are interested in.?

Since December, the museum has seen more than 650 visitors and Villareal hopes the number continues to grow. ?Just finding out why they?re interested keeps me interested,? she said.

Deb Rodgers has been a docent for over five years. She got involved through the previous curator but stayed due to her love of history. ?We have this little gem tucked away in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa that is so important to our state history, to our local history and to the U.S. history,? she said. Rodgers enjoys telling people the history of the home and helping them learn something along the way.

Pat White, who is on the executive board of the Harlan-Lincoln House, says her favorite part of volunteering is, ?just the satisfaction of sharing this beautiful treasure.?

Anyone who would like to volunteer may contact Anna Villareal at 319-385-6319 or