Historic Westville is looking for new team members! If you love history, have a passion for service and you’re looking for a very different and exciting employment opportunity, you’ve found the right place. Below are all of the positions we are looking to fill!
Position description: Executive Director
Historic Westville is currently closed to the public as it undergoes a move to Columbus, GA and re-interpretation. Historic Westville is a museum of Southern history and culture representing the diversity of the Southern Experience by telling the stories of all southern peoples including European Americans, African Americans, Native Americans, and immigrants and how their lives were inextricably linked but their experiences diverse. Through the use of exhibits, live interpreters, food and crafts, visitors will learn about life in the 19th century South and how major historical events affected the region. Historic Westville is searching for an enthusiastic leader during this time of transition to ensure a successful re-opening.
The Executive Director of Historic Westville is responsible for ensuring the quality of programs and the successful administration of the organization. The director works with the Board of Trustees to fulfill the mission, achieve the vision and enhance the image in the community. The director is responsible for fundraising as well as for the overall management of the financial function, building operations, public relations, marketing, and personnel management. The Executive Director represents the museum to key stakeholders, media, and other institutions.
Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration, Public Administration, Sciences, Humanities, not-for-profit Management, Museum Studies or a related field with eight (8) years or more of senior management experience in the area or any combination of experience and training which enables one to perform the essential job functions
Ability to quickly analyze a situation and take action. Ability to make necessary staff changes/reductions/additions to complete the mission
Knowledge of basic accounting concepts and principals
Proficient in use of a personal computer and Microsoft Office
Willing to work in inclement weather as well as weekends/holidays when necessary
Physically able to lift, carry, move or push 25 pounds using proper techniques, and to stoop, bend, stand and/or sit for prolonged periods
All requirements are subject to modification to reasonably accommodate individuals with disabilities
Knowledge of grant writing
Project management skills
Known and respected in the community
Integrity, trustworthiness and credibility
Excellent communicator who can engage a variety of audiences
Tactful, collaborative, and diplomatic
Proven success in leadership
Excellent customer service is imperative
Key Responsibilities (not inclusive):
Works under the general supervision of the Board of Trustees of Historic Westville to provide management and administration of all facilities that comprise the organization
Willing to refer to the Executive Committee for assistance/guidance as needed
Provides leadership, vision, and direction to volunteers and museum professionals
Develops the annual budget with the support of the Finance Committee of the Board
Ensures timeliness and accuracy of financial and management reporting for government funders, foundations, and Board of Trustees; oversees the preparation of annual financial statements
Ensures the gathering and reporting of relevant data by which staff and Board may evaluate the effectiveness of the organization’s programs and activities
Ensures legal and regulatory compliance regarding all financial and human resources requirements
Provides leadership to personnel that fosters loyalty, integrity, commitment, and creative thinking
Ensures the maintenance and appearance of the museum and the grounds so as to reflect the best possible professional standards
Fosters a culture of collaboration, institutional transparency, and occupational safety
Encourages and supports continuing education efforts. Builds the capabilities of the team by providing an environment in which each member feels both the responsibility of and the satisfaction for a job well done
Must have excellent rapport with a wide range of visitors, customers, and vendors that will be encountered
Participates in government relations, community relations and other public relations activities
Ensures that resources of the museum are focused on relevant, major objectives designed to meet the mission of providing entertaining exhibits and education programs that will be attended and utilized by a diverse population
Develops, implements and administers museum policies and procedures consistent with the general accepted museum practices as outlined by the AAM and other regulatory agencies, and in compliance with local, state, and federal laws and policies
Has overall supervisory responsibility of the museum staff to assure professional practices, activities, and programs, including but not limited to: exhibitions, acquisitions, collections
management, education development, administration, preservation, research and facility management, memberships, public relations and volunteer/docent programs. Plans for and implements the orderly growth of the same, consistent with the museum’s long range plan
Conducts the business of the museum so as to make certain that all employees follow the operational mandates as defined and adopted by the Board of Trustees
Attends all organizational meetings and maintains meaningful liaison with the community and those local, state, regional and national professional organizations whose goals pertain to the museum
Competitive salary and benefits
We are still moving our historic buildings to the new site in Columbus, GA. Last week we moved the Kiser House (in two parts). The movers we use are the very same movers who first moved this building to Lumpkin. We thought you would enjoy some of the video and still shots from both moves.
One of the changes we will be implementing at Westville will be to break down barriers of physical space for a complete immersive experience. Visitors will be encouraged to go into the rooms of our houses, in most cases use the furniture…feel what it was like to sleep on a rope bed or a mattress filled with straw. Your curiosity will be sparked by what you see, smell, hear, touch, taste and think. Fun hands- on activities for the entire family facilitate enjoyable and memorable learning. Tactile experiences help visitors appreciate how the items were used over time and among cultures.
We plan on removing most, if not all, of the so-called “velvet ropes” allowing visitors to sit at the dining table, rifle through their desk, and pick up a book. As a result, we need to keep our collection in working order and looking like it would during the nineteenth century. This requires us to take a new approach to the care and preservation of our artifacts.
Many museums you are familiar with have preservation collections. Most of Westville’s collection is what we call an educational collection. A preservation collection is for display and preserving for future generations. An educational collection is one that can be handled and used as teaching devices. While Westville does have some items in the collection that are original to the houses and families and will remain a preservation collection, the majority of the collection has been donated with the understanding that they would be used to help teach what life was like in the 19th century.
Many of our artifacts are in need of extensive cleaning and repair in order for them to be used and enjoyed by you and your family. We have created a GoFundMe campaign to provide the funds enabling us to clean, restore, and for the upkeep of these artifacts for several years to come. Your donations will help us purchase much needed museum quality cleaning products and tools.
We will be working on the artifacts as funds become available, so we will be frequently updating our progress. We will post pictures, videos, and articles to showcase our progress on the GoFundMe page and on our social media.
Who doesn’t love a good mystery? Westville has never solved one of ours. Who painted the interesting ceiling of the Damascus Church and why?
We do know that once the building was no longer needed or used as a church it eventually ended up storing corn (it is reported to hold 10,000 bushels), and eventually hay until the 1960s.
When the building was moved to Westville in Lumpkin, detailed notes were taken of the needed conservation and restoration. Before and during the work, Westville undertook the task of trying to solve the mystery of the ceiling. While they were able to replicate colors, techniques, and find other similar examples, the trail of the painter and why it was painted had grown cold and will likely always remain a mystery.
Westville talks about our “houses,” making it easy to forget they were once homes.
One of the more interesting stories we have partially uncovered is the inhabitants of the Grimes House and how long the building appears to have been continuously lived in until it was donated to Westville.
In this first picture you see the house as it sat in Westville in Lumpkin.
Note the two young girls in 1850 costumes sitting on the fence gates as if they are swinging on the gates for a thrill ride.
In the second undated picture you can see a young child learning to ride his bike in the front lawn of the house before it was moved to Westville.
The clothing, car and bike are clues to when the picture might have been taken.
In this side view picture taken at the same time as the bike ride, you can see an enclosed addition to the house.
This kitchen was not moved with the house in order to restore it to its original appearance. We know that in the 1940s the connection between the house and the kitchen was an open porch. We know this because we were lucky enough to meet someone who lived in the house in the 40’s who came to Westville to reminisce. You can see her story here. Westville Visitor
In the two pictures below, you can see the Grimes House being readied to move to Lumpkin.
As we continue to move our historic buildings to the new site in Columbus, Historic Westville is assessing what we know about our structures. History is not just about what happened in the past, but is an ongoing process of challenging and exploring what we think we know. Our buildings are valuable resources used to fulfill our mission.
Our building files pose an interesting question: Do we really know what we think we know? In order to add pages to Historic Westville’s interpretive narrative, we must challenge what we have long held to be true. The process is oftentimes tedious, but the reward immeasurable as it teases out new perspectives and additional research avenues. The files contain information in varied forms, from typed and handwritten notes to pictures and drawings.
For everything the files tell us, there is much they do not tell us and that is where the detective work begins. The first step in understanding our buildings’ histories is establishing the towns in which they originally stood.
Their original physical location leads us to land and tax records that deliver rich legal and genealogical information. Oftentimes these records provide a window into the individual or families associated with the land and structures upon it by providing names, ages, literacy, place of birth, and even economic and military status. Land and tax records are oftentimes archived in town halls, county courthouses, local historical societies, as well as the National Archives in Washington, D.C. The information contained in the records can be cross-referenced with not only our building files, but more importantly, with census records to further substantiate what we believe to be true. Land and tax records are extremely helpful, but there are times when they are not available or we lack the ability to link a building to an exact location to make their use viable. Sometimes the only thing we have to work with is the current structure as it sits outside of time and space.
The methods and tools historians use to study the past are vast. The buildings themselves have a lot to tell us. Architectural stylings provide large-scale details such as a rough time frame of construction. Construction methods provide a relative dating scheme as technology is always advancing. Dendrochronology, a highly specialized dating science, is another fascinating way to confirm a building’s approximate construction date. Using samples taken from a wood structure, dendrochronologists examine tree ring growth patterns to establish the calendar year the wood was harvested.
Looking to the future, our ability to study the past will grow as the methods and technology continue to evolve and improve. However, future researchers will also confront new challenges that time and our preservation efforts at present create. Currently the majority of Historic Westville’s buildings are over a hundred and twenty years old. Time is destructive and buildings require restoration to secure their future. Each replaced beam, board, or nail removes a piece of information potentially available to future researchers. Yet, without replacing those very beams and pieces of wood there would eventually be no building left to study. Much like ourselves, future historians will continue to question what they think they know. The historical narrative is complex and ever changing. Every new discovery adds a new perspective, deepening our understanding of the past.
The doctor’s office was the second building to move onto Westville’s new site in Columbus. Once again our volunteer photographers and drone photographers were on hand to capture the building as it made it to our new site.
Below are a couple of shots of the doctor’s office in it’s original location before it was moved the first time to Lumpkin.
Here are two shots of the office being moved, one as it was moved to Lumpkin and the other as it was moved to Columbus. More buildings will be arriving soon.
Are memorials built to honor, remember, heal or all three? War memorials, in particular, often spark controversy from their design, to their placement, and currently, if they should stand forever. Confederate civil war memorials, in particular are in the news these days. No matter your feelings on whether the monuments should remain or be removed, the following article provides another perspective and sheds light on a historic trauma still being experienced by soldiers today.
Empty Sleeves and Blank Stares
Where do you go to pay respects to Civil War veterans? Would it cross your mind to visit asylum cemeteries? Stories of mass casualties, crude amputations, POW camps, and longing for home dominate the narratives of soldiers’ suffering and sacrifice during the Civil War. Yet, accounts of the disturbing psychological baggage that many historic war veterans carried with them for the rest of their lives don’t take up much, if any, space in popular understanding of the 19th century. A look at this specific type of suffering among some Civil War veterans broadens our perspectives of historic wars and forces us to confront a stunning, timeless truth: for some, the war is never over.
It wasn’t until 1980 that the American Psychiatric Association added Posttraumatic Stress Disorder to its diagnostic manual, though other terms and diagnoses such as “soldier’s heart” during the Civil War, “shellshock” during World War I, and “combat fatigue” during the Second World War indicate early stages of acknowledging and treating the psychological ramifications of war. Fast forward to 2012, by which time the Department of Veterans Affairs had diagnosed 207,161 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with PTSD. A think tank funded by the Pentagon asserted that an additional 14% of these veterans suffer from major depression and still a large number experience “headaches, sleeplessness, irritability, rage, and other symptoms of PTSD” but do not seek treatment and thus evade diagnosis.
Prevalence of combat-related posttraumatic stress during historic eras can be elusive. Diaries, letters, medical records, and physicians’ notes reveal that many Civil War veterans suffered from varying degrees of undiagnosed or mistreated psychiatric problems. Vague diagnoses such as “mania” riddled the medical records of veterans in asylums and mental breakdowns were blamed on everything from weak dispositions and character flaws to masturbation.
Though documents from the 19th century are useful, widespread illiteracy curbed the number of sufferers and loved ones who were able to leave such clues. Access to physicians and institutions that may have listed such symptoms also affected whether or not veterans’ experiences were recorded for modern study. These logistical barriers were in addition to gender expectations we still feel today.
Nineteenth-century society expected men to be stoic, unemotional leaders, fit for, and thus essentially unaffected by, war and fighting. As such, they were disinclined to acknowledge combat-related mental issues and seek what little help there was to be found. This intersection of gender roles, identity, and ego begs the question about whether or not memorializing (permanently, in public places) the unwavering heroism of war veterans acted as an extra layer of pressure on them to resume male life as usual, lives that left little room for nameless illnesses of the psyche. Some historians speculate that the development of the Lost Cause sentiment, among other things, “served to prevent the development of psychological and social problems” in Confederate veterans.
Similar to today’s veterans, particular circumstances of war, the support of loved ones, symptom expression and severity produced markedly individual experiences of posttraumatic stress. The financial ability and geographical proximity to receive some sort of treatment varied, making medical attention, as it is today, an issue of socioeconomic class. When families could no longer accommodate affected veterans, they took them to asylums, some of which did not have room for patients to stay for long periods of time, further reflecting the state of the mental health field and forcing many veterans to move from asylums to poor houses.
Despite advancements in technology, biology, medicine, armor, and warfare, the experiences reported by veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan are similar to the horrors witnessed by Civil War soldiers. Today’s veterans report being shot at, being attacked/ambushed, receiving rocket or mortar fire, seeing dead bodies, and knowing someone killed/seriously injured as “combat stressors,” or experiences that may contribute to posttraumatic stress. A look at firsthand accounts of modern-day veterans and their historic counterparts is eerie.
Today’s soldiers shield each other from attack and take cover in abandoned buildings in foreign countries, Civil War soldiers laid on their bellies in American cornfields as “stray shot and shell” fell around them. An Iraq veteran with PTSD recalled “casualty collecting…You pick them up and you put them in a body bag, pieces by pieces.” A Confederate veteran from North Carolina wrote that he spent the 4th of July burying the dead. Modern veterans recall close calls, “You’re talking and you’re driving, and then something blows up, and the next thing you know, two of your guys are missing their faces.” After a bomb burst over his head at Antietam, Christopher Niederer of the 20th New York Infantry described the relief he felt after realizing he had all his limbs before he felt something “damp” on his face and turned to see that the man next to him “lacked the upper part of his head, and almost all his brains had gone into the face of the man next to him.”
Clearly, combat trauma and posttraumatic stress isn’t new. It isn’t going anywhere quickly either. The RAND Center for Military Health Policy Research estimates that 20% of today’s veterans suffer from PTSD or major depression. What do we do with this information? Can today’s affected veterans help shed light on the broader implications of historic wars? What can we gain from looking at war through psychological lenses?
 Civil War soldiers can often be found listed in the directories of asylum cemeteries. In this particular directory, the records of 12 patients buried at the cemetery indicated military service during the Civil War. Athens Lunatic Asylum Cemeteries Directory. http://namiathensohio.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/AthensLunaticAsylumCemeteryDirectoryWeb.pdf. Accessed May 29, 2017.
 David Wood, “Iraq, Afghanistan War Veterans Struggle with Combat Trauma,” World Post, The Huffington Post (June 4, 2012). Accessed May 10, 2017. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/04/iraq-afghanistan-war-veterans-combat-trauma_n_1645701.html.
 Tony Horwitz,
 Eric T. Dean, Shook Over Hell: Posttraumatic Stress, Vietnam, and the Civil War (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997), 8; PTSD: National Center for PTSD. https://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/ptsd-overview/ptsd-overview.asp. Accessed May 2, 2017.
 “Analysis of VA Health Care Utilization among Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation New Dawn Veterans,” Veterans Health Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs (January 2015). Accessed May 9, 2017. https://www.publichealth.va.gov/docs/epidemiology/healthcare-utilization-report-fy2014-qtr4.pdf; “Mental Health Effects of Serving in Afghanistan and Iraq,” National Center for PTSD, Department of Veterans Affairs (August 2015). Accessed May 9, 2017. https://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/ptsd-overview/reintegration/overview-mental-health-effects.asp.
 Louis Leon, Diary of a Tar Heel Confederate Soldier, electronic edition, Documenting the American South digital project of the University of North Carolina. http://docsouth.unc.edu/fpn/leon/leon.html. Accessed May 23, 2017.
 Michael Goss quoted in Emily DePrang, “Iraq Comes Home: Soldiers Share the Devastating Tales of War,” http://www.alternet.org/story/55921/iraq_comes_home%3A_soldiers_share_the_devastating_tales_of_war.
Accessed May 23, 2017.
 Christopher Niederer, 20th New York Infantry, 6th Corps, Civil War Misc. Collection, USAMHI, “Antietam Eyewitness Accounts,” http://www.historynet.com/antietam-eyewitness-accounts.htm. Accessed May 23, 2017.
Our new site is ready to receive the first building in Columbus, GA on May 1 if the weather cooperates. Thanks to Thayer -Bray for this great drone footage.