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How Women Saved the West Display

by Mark McKnight on 2023-03-15T10:16:50-05:00 | 0 Comments

Renea Dauntes comes by it naturally; she's from a long line of savers.

The M.A. candidate in West Texas A&M University's Department of History could have been one of the women depicted in her new exhibition, "How Women Saved the West, " or at least one of her female relatives could have been.

The display discusses the role women played in preserving historical items and information and will be showcased in the Cornette Library beginning this month. 

Dauntes, an archivist and research assistant at the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, is working on her Master's degree. As part of the exhibition, she will host a talk and panel discussion at 5:30 pm on March 21st in the library's gallery on the first floor.

The panelists will include Dr. Jean Stuntz, Dr. Amy Von Lintel, Sidnye Johnson, and Amy Sheets. The conversation will explore modern experiences with preservation, protection, and presentation of information and artifacts.

"Exploring the idea, 'How Women Saved the West' came about as a result of a scholarship application," Dauntes said via email. "I was serving as the archivist for a photographer and needed to show how such a project could have implications for the region's history. 

"There was a realization that there were others like me, novices who were attempting both small- and large-scale preservation projects. There was also a pattern set by my own aunts and mother's mothers who passed down family information, creating generations of savers."

"So I floated a hypothesis: women were a big part in saving historical information. What I didn't anticipate was overwhelming confirmation everywhere I looked."

"Not only did books and archival material confirm the regularity in which women were credited with assembling small family archives and passing them down, they also pointed to their prominent role in establishing institutions we now rely on to house and preserve historical material. The project revealed the myriad ways women were able to help details of the past persist to tell history's tale here in our present."

"What is more exciting, as the project evolves, is the discovery of methods we can model to ensure that each of us can play a part in getting our present to the future."

Dauntes started setting up some display cases near the library's main entrance late last month. The gallery, located near the atrium, will house posters and other artifacts through the end of the Spring semester.

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