My internship at the Sam Rayburn House State Historic Site and Sam Rayburn Museum locations in Bonham, Texas this summer introduced me to the museum field and connected me more with the rich overlooked value of Grayson and Fannin counties, and therefore I count it as invaluable experience which has helped me appreciate the community and grow as an individual.
Because both the Rayburn home and library are historical sites founded in honor of the late Sam Rayburn, U.S. Speaker of the House, I spent much of my summer learning information about “Mr. Sam,” his family, and the United States government wherein he worked. Much of what I learned came from the museum’s exhibits and databases and helped me establish basic knowledge for the sites, but because I was specifically interning under the Rayburn house’s curator, Anne Ruppert, I also researched through physical archives and online to find out new information on existing artifacts for which little was known. Specifically, for example, I dug through congressional records, family correspondences, and the internet to determine the make, model, and particular history of sets of china and pottery in the Rayburn collection, which will be on a display in the library museum this fall. Other curatorial work I did was scanning photos and letters that dated up to a century ago to the digital databases, arranged an exhibit on quilt squares for the annual Quilt Hop event in Bonham, and rehoused vinyl records and sheet music to better conditioned storage. The internship gave me an inside look at the processes, tasks, and opportunities of working in a small museum.
Along with my research of the Rayburn family, I also learned much about the area and community which Sam Rayburn and his family cared about so much, and this encouraged me to appreciate the places where I am. Discovering about their pasts encouraged me to explore Bonham and Sherman downtown areas, going inside shops and restaurants, and talking with local owners and residents. I especially enjoyed discovering a Bonham coffee shop and meeting local quilters who came to the Rayburn home during the Quilt Hop event in July. I am especially grateful for my internship at these two museums for giving me practical experience in a field of history and connecting me more intimately with this part of north Texas.