Raschell Dorris, a University of Missouri history student and Museum of Missouri Military History intern, sets up her first historical display at the Ike Skelton Training Site in Jefferson City. The display showcases the Confederate and Union army's with the Battle of Pea Ridge in the middle. (Photo by Sarah E. Lupescu, Missouri National Guard).
By Sarah E. Lupescu
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - A University of Missouri history student recently completed a historical display at the Ike Skelton Training Site as part of a fall internship at the Museum of Missouri Military History.
Raschell Dorris, from Cassville, began her internship at the beginning of the fall semester. She used her family's roots as an inspiration for her display's theme.
"The display is about the Battle of Pea Ridge during the American Civil War," Dorris said. "Most of my family is from Pea Ridge, Ark. so the display had more of a personal connection for me."
Dorris quickly learned that there is more to a display than just putting photos and artifacts in a case.
"Putting it in the case was very challenging," Dorris said. "There is so much more involved than just having history facts. There is more than telling the story of a battle when you're showing the story of a battle. It's kind of stressful making sure that you're display is acceptable and historically accurate."
The Battle of Pea Ridge display was the first time Dorris put together a historical display.
"I think it turned out good, I like it," Dorris said. "I like the way I have it set up. It's Confederate in one corner and Union in the other, it's like a boxing match with the battle in the middle."
Dorris made the conscience effort to make the display more than just about the battle.
"There are artifacts that are about where people came from," Dorris said. "There are pieces that a lot of people don't think about like pencils and ink and things that made up a Soldier's life. I wanted people to see more than just a Soldier. There is more to a Soldier than just the uniform they're wearing."
All of Dorris' hard work is supervised by Charles Machon, the museum's director.
"Charles helped some with my display," Dorris said. "It was mostly sink or swim on my own. He would critique and give me ideas, but his general approach was that the display is mine and he left me to figure it out on my own. He was there to bounce ideas off of."
In addition to setting up a display, internship duties include conducting research for the display, learning how to properly laminate, and how to properly care for artifacts.
"A lot of what I've done is pretty common sense stuff," Dorris said. "But once I got into actually doing the work I learned that there is a lot more to it than it looks."
The internship has been Dorris' first time working in a museum. The experience has been enjoyable, she said.
"Coming here is probably my favorite part of the week," Dorris said. "I like it. It gives me something to do outside of school and work while still doing something that is historically relevant to me."
One of the things Dorris has been able to take away from her internship is the importance of respect, she said.
"You should be respectful of the things you have and the history of where it comes from," Dorris said. "Whether you think something is historically appropriate or not, you still respect it because that piece of history is probably important to someone else."
Choosing history as a degree program was an easy decision for Dorris. She's been around history almost her whole life.
"My dad loves history," Dorris said. "When I was a kid, and as I got older, we watched the History Channel a lot. And I have a philosophy about people: you can't know where you're going unless you know where you have been."
Knowing where you come from is a big southern thing, Dorris said.
"People are always asking what your name is, what church you go to, and who your family is," Dorris said. "They're not asking who your parents are, they're asking where you come from. It's a big part of the culture that I came from."
Dorris is scheduled to graduate in December. After graduation she hopes to find a job working in a museum, she said.
The Museum of Missouri Military History has various historical files on Missouri's military history and Soldiers and Airmen files dating back to 1900. The historical files include information about unit histories, historical lineage and honors, state emergency duty reports, and the Missouri State Guard. All of the files are available for research in the museum office.
The museum also has traveling displays that include various exhibits on unit history, conflicts, and geographical areas in Missouri.
The museum is open for tours from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.
For more information on the Museum of Missouri Military History, please visit http://www.moguard.com/moguard-museum-of-missouri-military-history.html.
For more information about the Missouri National Guard, please visit www.moguard.com and our social media sites: www.facebook.com/Missouri.National.Guard; www.twitter.com/Missouri_NG; www.youtube.com/MoNationalGuard; www.myspace.com/missouri_ng; www.flickr.com/photos/missouriguard; www.moguard.com/blog; www.pinterest.com/monationalguard/
Raschell Dorris, a University of Missouri history student and Museum of Missouri Military History intern, set up her first historical display at the Ike Skelton Training Site in Jefferson City. The display showcases the Confederate and Union army's with the Battle of Pea Ridge in the middle. (Photo by Sarah E. Lupescu, Missouri National Guard).