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FINAL NOTE (SINCE WE ARE BACK TO THE PRESENT): I was recently contacted by a couple of college students who aspire to be museologists and asked what I thought about a career in the field and what their prospects for future might be.


Oh the joy! Oh the joy of being in a profession that not only allows but encourages you to explore diverse and wondrous worlds…

I have had the opportunity over the past 50 years to become knowledgeable in so many fields that it astounds the senses sometimes!

The natural history of almost every continent and ocean; the geology from the “Creation” to the Ocular Stimulated Luminesce; the archaeology from human existence to the connections from the American Paleo to Archaic and Archaic to the Transitional Period and from that to Pre-Columbian and Spanish Contact and Conquest and maybe especially another creation in American History, that of the Puebloian rise and fall…almost.

You can't ignore Geoiogy and Paleontology, from looking at what is found in a meteorite to the first identifiable organisms in fossiliferous limestone and then there is all of human history, of course, from the first spoken word to the usage of animals for "our" benefit and the associated production of plants to the demise of riverfront communities along navigable waterways in 19th century Texas.

Naturally, there are numerous examples of the concentrated efforts necessary to build each and every exhibit case to the all-encompassing major exhibitions like the “History of the Dravidians, Branch Dravidians and the Koreshians” or the “Sesquicentennial of Baylor University”. And then there are the personal interests and desires of an old museologist…including a couple of planned blockbusters, “The Divine Mosaic: Crossroads of Faith”, as well as, "Who Were the First Americans", another 5,000 sq. ft. traveling exhibition involving all of the Paleo archaeolgists in the Americas.

Even though, "times are tough", for the non-profit sector there are still major foundations, established patrons and individual donors of interpretive programs and exhibitions who, when presented with the right "script" are more than willing, often excited, to be the benefactors that contributes to the educational porcess for our time and place.

During my tenure as a professor and chair of the Dept. of Musuem Studies at Baylor I had the honor and distinct priviledge of having 150 students graduate from our program and during the latter part of my 20 years there we were placing over 90% in museum or related careers. So be studious, be dedicated and become diverse in your intersts. The future is bright for your generation.

Be thinking about how I can use my experiences and my contacts to help you achieve your goals and what/any questions that you might have about the profession and/or what particular subject matter you would like to know more about and/or my thoughts of who, what, when, where, why or how to make the most of your opportunities.

NOTE: This was done during 2014 as I was working on the Miller Collection and encountered the Spencerian Script that influenced decoy painting.

Considering the plight of our current educational system I thought it would be interesting to look back almost a century and a half at comments made by our 20th President, James A. Garfield who served only 200 days in office.

Born in Moreland Hills, OH, in 1831 he attended Western Reserve Eclectic Institute (which later became Hiram College) from 1851-54 and eventually taught there. It was a school that emphasized the Spencerian calligraphy and commercial business courses developed by Platt R. Spencer, Sr. in 1850 by, “the man who taught America a new standard for penmanship and the world how to write” (e.g. the Coca – Cola logo and the extraordinary penmanship we have all seen in those “old” journal entries). Called chirhythmography, or, “The Grand Key of Guidance in Muscular Motion”, in the execution of letters, words, sentences and a large variety of running flourishes, flares and arcs creating a wide variety of birds all, “to the beat of the metronome”. By 1869 the 3-4 month courses had expanded to other states and Canada and there with over 40,000 graduates including such notables as John D. Rockefeller, Harvey S. Firestone and Henry Sherwin and E. P. Williams. They proved successful for two reasons, primarily because they stressed education for living and working within the business community encouraging new immigrants to pursue jobs in the telegraph, railroad and in the multitude of newly created firms in a growing nation. Secondly, graduates learned marketable skills with which to secure good jobs at a reasonable cost in a short period of time that were available to everyone, including women and minorities.

Garfield went on to graduate from Williams College in Massachusetts in 1856 and successfully ran for the Ohio State Senate in 1859-61 on the anti-slavery platform. He passed the Ohio Bar in 1861. Running on, “full rights of citizenship”, for African-Americans he served nine consecutive terms as a U. S. Congressman from 1863 until he assumed the Presidency in 1881.

He attained the rank of Major General for the Union Army during the Civil War and fought in the battles of Middle Creek, Shiloh and Chickamauga and became the compromise nominee for President by the Republican Party in 1880, beating out Ulysses S. Grant (for his third term), John Sherman and James G. Blaine. One of his main goals was to ease the warring factions between the Republicans. He was sworn in on March 4, 1881 as President and was shot by Charles J. Guiteau, a deranged political office seeker, on July 2, 1881 but did not die until 80 days later on September 19th.

In Penman’s Art Journal – A Monthly Journal of Penmanship and Practical Education, Garfield was quoted, “Business colleges originated in this country as a protest against the inefficiency of our system of education – as a protest against the failure, the absolute failure, of our American schools and colleges to fit young men and women for the business of life. These business colleges furnish their graduates a better education for practical purposes than either Princeton, Harvard or Yale.” [There will be a Part II to this later.]

We are losing, greatly today, the creation in our children the ability to grasp the importance of comprehending and employing the lessons of the past to better understand and utilize the advantages our various “heritages” offer for a better tomorrow.

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