The History Museum offers visitors guided tours of its historic houses, Copshaholm, the Oliver Mansion and the Worker’s Home, daily. Conducting these tours are volunteer docents. Individuals who have a special interest in historic houses may want to volunteer as a docent. The History Museum provides a docent training course where individuals learn how to lead tours. Information about the architecture and furnishings of Copshaholm, the Oliver family, and the Oliver Chilled Plow Works is given in the course. Classes focus on a variety of themes related to the Oliver Chilled Plow Works, including the Industrial Revolution and the expanding Western frontier. Information covered ranges from the history of the St. Joseph River Valley region to roles and obligations of the different social classes of the period. Publications and continuing-education lectures, designed to augment the initial training course, are offered throughout the year.
Volunteers at The History Museum provide hours of valuable assistance in meaningful ways. Some help on a regular basis, while others prefer to be called “as-needed.” Tremendous work is accomplished by volunteers at The History Museum, and an added benefit is the friendships formed with staff and other volunteers. Those who have special interest in the historic houses may train to become a docent, conducting tours of the historic houses, the Oliver Mansion and the Worker’s Home. Some volunteers work in the archives, helping to digitize the museum’s photograph collection or catalog historical documents and artifacts. For those who like the outdoors, they can help tend the beautiful flowers and plants in the historic gardens. Greeting the public at programs and special events are other ways volunteers can be involved. Working behind the scenes with mailings and other administrative projects is yet another option. There are also many opportunities for those who like the performing arts or such living history programs as Cabin Days, held each spring for school groups.
Volunteers especially interested in interpreting the history of the St. Joseph River Valley will enjoy working in Voyages Gallery of Local History as a Gallery Interpreter or within our Changing Gallery. In the Voyages Gallery, visitors can learn about the region’s geological history, Native American culture, French exploration, pioneer settlement, the Great Kankakee March, agriculture, the Underground Railroad, the Civil War, industrialization, immigration, and material culture. School groups at all grade levels visit the gallery.
If you like pioneer history and you can demonstrate woodworking skills, quilting, pioneer cooking, or any other early American trade we would like to talk to you about Cabin Days. Cabin Days is an annual program serving over 4,000 area students and is a living history program that takes place in Leeper Park at the Navarre Cabin in October every year. During “Cabin Days,” volunteers dressed as pioneers demonstrate to elementary school groups cooking, recreation and trades of the 1830s.
Do you enjoy the Civil War era and educating school children about that tumultuous time in our nation’s history? Have your friends ever said you look like President Abraham Lincoln, General Robert E. Lee, U.S. General Ulysses S. Grant, or Harriet Tubman? The Education Department is always looking for adults, who would not mind dressing in, and acting in, character and presenting material to students about the many different aspects of the Civil War. This annual program that occurs every spring draws an average of 1,000 students over a 4-day period.
Performers are also needed for the Mystery at the Mansion and Christmas at Copshaholm Specialty Tours. For this program, volunteers portray Oliver family and friends. The tours are scripted. Contact for more information
Great for individuals who prefer to volunteer on a project to project basis – our year is sprinkled with dozens of special events – brunches – children’s programs – lectures – concerts – just to name a few!
Are you a garden enthusiast? Our museum complex sits on 10 acres. Our garden volunteers help around the grounds and in the Historic Oliver Gardens, one of the loveliest gardens in the area.
Community Relations Projects
Are you good with people – not at all shy in a crowd? Marketing volunteers help us share the good news about The History Museum with the public at various festivals, conferences and gatherings in our community.
Would you like to help and would prefer to be behind the scene? Clerical volunteers help with mailings, data entry and general office support.