Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Black History Month at the Nathanael Greene Museum
"Our children need to know that there is more than one heritage within them."
During African-American History Month, visitors to the museum can peruse the Paths to Freedom display, and a special gallery that focuses on contributions by the county's African-Americans.
The Nathanael Greene Museum has been around just over 30 years, and in that time, has quickly become a respository for artifacts and collectibles that are native to the area and to time periods in Greene County. "The museum started with just one room and we quickly outgrew that," says Lawrence. "We get a lot of people donating many items that we always keep a record of," she says, opening files of names and donated merchandise native to Greene County.
This would have been just some old milk jug, perhaps hidden in someone's closet, sitting dusty on a back porch, or even half-buried in the ground. Instead, someone cleaned it up, polished it, and donated it to the museum, now held proudly by Lawrence.
Kids from the New Vision Youth took a brief tour when they arrived at the museum just to get familiar with items and exhibits that piqued their interest. Then after an assembly and discussion period where their individual imaginations were stimulated with input, the group embarked on a closer, more indepth tour that prompted question after question about what they were looking at and its place in history.
Other exhibits feature items for the kitchen like a wringer washing machine, washboards, ice boxes (we call them refrigerators now), cupboards, wooden kitchen tables, utensils.. things considered antique these days, but thought of as modern 100 years ago. The item that commanded the most attention was a stove with a porcelain top. A note on the top of it, reminded students of the Depression years of their ancestors, when folks were glad to just have enough food to survive a good meal.
The Magnavox plant was one of Greene County's largest employers during the electronics boom of the 70's and 80's. An exhibit in the Greene Museum featuring Magnavox, Sylvania and Philco Consumer electronics products fills one room with products made by Greene County residents.
Early Greene County farm implements from the 19th and early 20th-century comprised several exhibits, and the kids were intrigued at how the farm machinery played an important role in where food came from.. even other important commodities important to the county's economy, like tobacco products. Plows, tillers, dividers and other farm items were readily recognizable by the New Vision chaperones, but to the kids.. they were just iron and bent pieces of metal.
Also of interest, was the museum's collection of antiques, living room, dining room and bedroom furniture. Although they resembled items found in modern-day households, these items' bulk, girth and inflexibility produced a few chuckles among the New Vision visitors.
The Nathanael Greene Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, from 11 AM to 5 PM. Admission is three dollars for adults, and two dollars for students.
Swagerty herself has a link to Greene County's history. Her family is tied to Andrew Johnson's heritage.
"It's good to know that everybody has a heritage somewhere," she says. "That's what we want the kids to know."
WATCH A SLIDESHOW OF THE NEW VISION YOUTH VISIT TO THE NATHANAEL GREENE MUSEUM BELOW!
Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.