“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.”
That quote from Marcus Garvey, Jamaican-born political leader, publisher, journalist and orator, is a favorite of Jeremy Murray. And as the Carver County Historical Society’s new collections curator, Murray’s role is to help sustain those roots locally.
Murray joined the CCHS staff at the beginning of the year to manage its historical collection and oversee restoration projects at the Andrew Peterson farm, owned by the historical society, which is a showcase for Swedish immigrant life from 1854-1898 and this area’s agricultural roots.
Murray’s own roots are in Iowa. He grew up on a farm in northeast Iowa and went on to study history at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa. During his studies one of his internships was with was with the Grout Museum District in Waterloo, Iowa.
History was always a subject Murray was engaged in, whether it was watching westerns on TV with his dad, investigating his own ancestors’ involvement in World War II, or digging into old documents. And he says he always enjoyed visiting museums, which set him on his path to Waconia.
After his undergraduate studies Murray attended graduate school at Western Illinois University, earning master’s degrees in history and museum studies.
Before making his way to the Carver County Historical Society, Murray worked with several institutions including the Museum of Science & Industry and National Hellenic Museum in Chicago, Kenilworth Historical Society in Kenilworth, Ill., and the National World War I Museum & Memorial in Kansas City.
“I am excited to be a part of the outstanding Carver County Historical Society team and am eager to start digging in to and preserving the rich history Carver County possesses,” Murray said.
Murray notes that he and his wife Rachel both spent a large amount of time in Minnesota while growing up in neighboring Iowa, and are excited to make Carver County home and take in the “wonderful outdoor experiences the area has to offer.”
In terms of local history, the museum’s collection includes more than 14,000 historical items – everything from garments, to household items, to children’s toys and more. Some collections rotate on display at the museum and area libraries, while others might be reviewed by researchers investigating an historical topic or descendants exploring their own genealogy.
Specialists currently are completing a full inventory of the collection to get a better picture of what has been acquired and donated, and to update information about the items.
Murray points out that the Carver County museum has recently been certified by the state as an archeological repository for artifacts uncovered on Coney Island of the West on Lake Waconia as the county continues the process of turning it into a regional park.
“History museums, like the Carver County Historical Society,” Murray said, “provide the opportunity for people to experience a special connection with their history through artifacts, photos and documents that reading alone can’t provide.”