Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

History Museum Honors Ex-President; Postcards Depict "Little Piece of History"

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

History Museum Honors Ex-President; Postcards Depict "Little Piece of History"

Article excerpt

Byline: AMELIA A. HART, Nassau Neighbors staff writer

FERNANDINA BEACH -- Fourth-graders who visit the Amelia Island Museum of History in future years will get a "Little Piece of History" to take with them.

Museum officials have created a series of postcards, featuring scenes from Amelia Island's rich history, and dubbed them a "Little Piece of History," in honor of former President Susan Little.

Little stepped down March 8 after six years on the non-profit organization's board of directors, four years as board president -- a total of 10 years serving the museum in the old Nassau County jail on Third Street.

Little first got involved at the museum in 1995 when she was hired by then-director Deon Jaccard to start an Elderhostel program. Elderhostel is a worldwide travel and education program for older adults.

Not only did Little get the program started, she also served as a lecturer, speaking on the Civil War from the Southern perspective.

The next year, Little began working at the museum as a volunteer, becoming one of many area residents to serve as docents.

At that time, the museum used docents to speak about history. Instead of traditional exhibits with explanatory text, visitors learned about the island's history during two daily docent presentations at the museum and walking tours in downtown.

Though her leadership responsibilities at the museum expanded, Little continued as a docent. She has no plans to stop.

"I love the history here. This is one of the most unique stories to tell here in the U.S. It comes from the fact we were a border town, first between the Spanish and the English, and then between Spain and the new United States, and with that comes fascinating stories," Little said.

Museum officials decided a few years ago to take the museum in a new direction. In addition to the living history presentations, the museum added permanent exhibits to serve visitors who preferred the traditional museum experience, or couldn't make it to the daily tours.

They turned to Little to run the capital campaign, which successfully raised the $350,000 needed.

The revamped museum opened in 2003, and has drawn increasing numbers of visitors, officials say. Museum Director Carmen Godwin said daily tours in the year before the overhaul earned $11,000. In 2004, admission charges to the museum, which includes the docent presentations, generated $25,000.

That response is gratifying, Little said.

"I think the thing I am most pleased about is that the new exhibits are serving the community well. All the visitors seem to enjoy them, and they enjoy the spoken history," she said.

Museum officials want to do another round of renovations, mostly on the second floor, to make the building more accessible and improve its archive capabilities. …

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