Friday, November 12, 2010

Helping History Happen

Helping History Happen: A Volunteer Interview
Post Submitted by Karreen Busch

            Do you ever wonder about the way history is recorded?  Where do all the facts go?  In Southern Oregon, one sure place to find history in its many forms is at the Southern Oregon Historical Society’s Research Library.
            But how does all that history get sorted?  Well, the Research Library is run mostly by volunteers who donate their time to help keep Southern Oregon history alive.  The stories our volunteers can share will make you want to experience some history yourself!
Dana Smith Tuley is a part-time staff member and part-time volunteer of the Southern Oregon Historical Society, as well as a lifelong Oregonian.  A resident of Medford, Dana was a legal secretary for 30 years and is now retired.  Here, Dana answers some questions about herself and her job at the SOHS.

What is your favorite part of being a volunteer?
Knowing that we, the volunteers, are helping the society get through a tough time in its history and that we are working to make it better.

What is your favorite piece of history within the Research Library?
[M]y family’s history dating back to 1870 in the valley starting in Eagle Point and on to Jacksonville and surrounding areas in 1881; I found so much history to use in a cookbook I was preparing with family history added.

What is your favorite historic building the Society owns?
I loved going to the Museum as a child (in the 50s) and seeing my great-grandparents’ home displayed there as one of the old homes in Jacksonville.  It was built in 1887 or 1888.

What is your favorite event put on by the Society?
Love Hanley Farm events; love stepping back in time that happens strolling the old farm grounds with a grandchild; all 3 have attended events with me through the years.  They all got to churn butter, which so fun for them and me!  I got to make butter on my grandparents’ ranch on the Applegate so it was special for them to get to do it too.

Do you have a favorite person of interest whose life can be researched in the library?
I love the “Vertical Files” where I can ask about a subject, such as a certain person, town or place in the area, and read articles, letters, etc. about it/them.  I also find it fascinating to ask about photos on a person/place and get a box to go through on my own; it takes you back in time and one picture leads to another box of pictures to look through; it is endless.

Do you have any advice to give people wanting to learn more about their family’s or local history?
Start with the historical society’s Research Library and get help from the people who work there; they try very hard to answer all your questions and find as much information as they possibly can.  The term “it takes a village” applies; we all work together to do the best for the customer.

What are your favorite things to do when not volunteering?
I revised/wrote The Smith Family Heritage Cookbook for the Jacksonville Sesquicentennial which started my love affair with SOHS.

What are your interests and hobbies?
I showed horses for about 20 years; tennis was a passion for 36 years until the knees wore out!  Still a passion but I turned to coaching girls’ high school junior varsity tennis for 5 years.  My husband builds street rods for a living and we travel the country in our 1934 apple green Ford 2-door sedan with a group of friends.  Our ‘34 is not like my grandparents’ ‘34; we have air conditioning, heat, stereo, power steering, tiltback seat; a little more luxurious than in the “old days”! A great way to see the sites of this great country.

            The Research Library is located at
106 N. Central Ave.
in Medford, Oregon, and is open Tuesdays through Fridays from 12 to 4:00 pm.  Call (541) 858-1724 or visit for more information.

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