Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Meet Volunteer of the Year Karen Gunderson

Guest blog entry by Shayla Carey

From left:  Brenda Reigle, director of Bureau of Historic Sites & Museums; Jim Lewars, site director at Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum; 2014 Volunteers of the Year Karen & Ken Gunderson; Jeffrey Bliemeister, site director at Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.  Image by PHMC/Don Giles.
Through the patience, interest, and skills of 2014 Volunteer of the Year Karen Gunderson, ordinary people of southeastern PA have made history.  Since moving to Lancaster County from Virginia in 2008, she has been organizing diaries, ledgers, recipe books, and other various bound manuscripts in the museum collection — at the same time, helping to sketch a picture of 18th-20th century life in rural Pennsylvania.

"Working with the ledgers and manuscripts has helped me see these people from the past as real people," she says.  "In their own handwriting, the books tell people's stories about their work and everyday life — and I can see how much we have in common with them. And many also took time to write personal notes in their business books about their families, marriages, births, and deaths. These personal notes feel to me like a message in a bottle that they've left for us to find in the 21st century. I always think they would be pleased to know that people 100-200 years in the future are reading what they wrote and remembering them."

Karen's service doesn't stop at the Collections Gallery.  She can also be seen at Herb & Garden Faire (May 8 & 9, 2015) and Harvest Days (October 10 & 11, 2015).  Her husband volunteers at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, Landis Valley's sister PHMC site, and has received the Volunteer of the Year award from there, too.  The self-employed information technologist and mother of two also enjoys quilting and many forms of paper arts, including calligraphy and marbling.

Karen and her husband love to volunteer and travel together and they are looking forward currently enjoying a trip to Germany.  Congratulations to Karen and all of the other Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission Volunteer of the Year honorees who received their awards on April 18.

PHMC Volunteers of the Year, site directors, and administrative staff.  Image by PHMC/Don Giles.