Some of my readers may know that I am no longer at Naper Settlement. After nearly thirteen years of processing, indexing, researching, writing, and presenting Naperville history with my co-workers and volunteers at Naper Settlement a different path was chosen for me. What began as a job in a community I had visited just a few times before – turned into a wonderful chapter to my career as a museum professional and my second hometown. I was paid to study the history of Naperville, but I came to know and appreciate Naperville’s real stories through its people both past and present. I am proud to call Naperville my home.
As I begin my new adventure, I reflect on the forces seen and unseen that have led me throughout my career. My great-aunt Neva Defenbaugh, a spinster, lived with another spinster in a Boston Marriage for over 44 years. Aunt Margaret Flint was a part of our family as any blood relation. Aunt Margaret was the assistant state historian at the Illinois State Historical Library in Springfield. Illinois. She delayed her retirement for a year to help move the historical library from the Old Capitol to a new facility. The Illinois State Historical Library collection merged with the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in 2004. I remember her as a quiet, highly intelligent, well-spoken lady, with very dry humor. I think we heard more stories about Aunt Margaret than she actually told. She was well known throughout the United States among historians and authors for finding just what they needed for their manuscripts. She is credited by many grateful authors in their Acknowledgement sections of books about Lincoln and Illinois history for her persistent, resourceful and pleasant assistance. Whether I knew it or not, I wanted to be just like Aunt Margaret. I inherited her collection of 82 Agatha Christie books. Christie was Aunt Margaret’s favorite author of her favorite reading subject mystery novels.
Although a great deal of the archival profession is cataloging and processing, there is an element of detective work involved in helping patrons find the answers to their inquiries. I have been called a History Detective while in search of a missing relative, the date a building was built or identifying a strange object. History Mysteries have always made my job fun and exciting. Presenting the patron with the lost piece of the puzzle or the treasure of a new story is very rewarding.
In the next few months I will be returning to Springfield looking for exciting stories to share. I will be searching the archives and the collections that Aunt Margaret used to maintain knowing that she’s probably watching me, guiding me as my path unfolds.