Notable Women of Austin: Dream job in history

Published 5:48 am Tuesday, October 29, 2019

By Carolyn Bogott

American Association of University Women

How many people can say the job they are doing is their “dream job?”

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Jaimie Timm radiates enthusiasm as she describes coming to Austin as the curator of the Mower County Historical Society’s collection. She credits her American Girl doll, “Molly: An American Girl on the Home Front” as sparking her interest in history from a young age.

Molly’s story began a lifelong interest in World War II and a fascination with all social history.

“I am interested in people’s stories, not just dates and battles,” Timm said.  “I knew teaching was not for me, so museum work was an obvious place to work with history. Every day is different and I love that!”

Jaimie Timm

Timm grew up in Wisconsin, completed a bachelor of arts degree in history at Wisconsin Lutheran College in Milwaukee and completed a masters degree in Public History (otherwise known as “museum science”) at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina.

She dreamed of working in a small museum and that brought her to Austin in 2012.  Timm is so happy to be able to do this work of “sharing and preserving other people’s stories.”

This job fits well with parenting her two daughters, 4 ½  and 1 ½ years old. She shares those parental responsibilities with her husband, who teaches fourth grade at Southgate Elementary School.

The job of curator involves two main parts. First is the “collection management,” which is processing donations, storing and caring for them, and preparing documentation for each item through recording the donor’s story and doing relevant research.

The second part of the job is  “exhibits,” which involves researching, creating a design of the exhibit and installing the exhibit, and then rotating what is on display, both for variety of interest and to preserve the objects.

Timm’s personal favorite exhibit was the World War II exhibit, since that is such a special period of interest for her.  That exhibit focused on what was happening in people’s lives right here in Mower County. The exhibit from which she learned the most is the current chert exhibit, featuring the 800-item collection of stone tools donated by the family of Maynard Green.

In researching for this, Timm said she told the state archaeological society that she needed “Archaeology for Dummies,” because prehistory and Native American history were not among her areas of knowledge.

This fascinating chert exhibit, now open for viewing, is a  proud achievement  for Timm encompassing her work from  January through July this year. It was ready to open for the county fair.

Other projects Timm has worked on include the rural electric exhibit and the one room schoolhouse, as well as exhibits on Vietnam and World War I.

Each time she has tried to find out what was going on here in Mower County at the time.  Her first sources are newspapers, then history books. Next she consults the amazing Mower County Historical Society files (which were kept by volunteers from 1947 to 1990) on civic and social events, places, businesses, and weather events like the 1928 tornado.

Since 1990, the historical society has had staff to help keep up the files.

The library is Timm’s next resource, followed, lastly, by the internet.

Other parts of her job are supervising “de-accessioning,” which is a process of eliminating duplicate or similar items, items in poor shape, or that do not fit in the collection.  Often these items can be used in other ways, like in the educational collection that is used for “hands on” activities with children.

Timm said she “feels very privileged to work here, holding this information in public trust for the community.”

Thank you, Jaimie Timm for your enthusiastic caretaking of Mower County History.

For more information about the Austin Branch of AAUW, contact Sue Grove  or Carolyn Bogott The American Association of University Women, now AAUW, is open to anyone who has completed a two-year degree or beyond.  AAUW welcomes men who support our objectives and there are student memberships available. AAUW has been empowering women since 1881.  We support equity and education for women.  Scholarships are offered, as well as help in litigation in cases dealing with sex discrimination.  We are the most important and highly respected research and lobbying organization dealing with women’s issues such as equal opportunity and job equality.