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Northwest Missouri State University


Student Spotlight

July 17, 2015

Student documents history during internship at Truman Library

By Nikeila Jensen, media relations assistant

Hannah Mahnken poses with a statue of Harry Truman inside the Harry S. Truman Museum and Library in Independence, Mo.

Hannah Mahnken poses with a statue of Harry Truman inside the Harry S. Truman Museum and Library in Independence, Mo.(Submitted photos)

Mahnken zips a dress that belonged to former first lady Bess Truman as museum staff prepared to photograph the dress for its collections database. Truman wore the dress when she and Harry Truman visited the White House during the Kennedy administration.

Mahnken zips a dress that belonged to former first lady Bess Truman as museum staff prepared to photograph the dress for its collections database. Truman wore the dress when she and Harry Truman visited the White House during the Kennedy administration.

Hannah Mahnken is putting the experience she’s gained at Northwest Missouri State University into action this summer at the Harry S. Truman Museum and Library.

The Truman Museum and Library is the presidential library dedicated to Harry Truman, who served as the United States’ 33rd president from 1945 to 1953, and is located in Independence, Mo., the former president’s hometown. The library and museum provide the public with exhibit and research opportunities into the life and work of Truman’s presidency. The museum holds more than 32,000 artifacts, 15,000,000 pages of manuscripts, more than 128,000 photos and other historical items.

The internship has helped Mahnken, a senior history major from Schleswig, Iowa, learn to rehouse artifacts, use museum databases technology and take professional photos of artifacts. As part of museum’s collection department she also has visited the nearby Truman home, the National Archives in Kansas City and the Gerald Ford Conservation Center in Omaha, Neb.

“The presidential libraries are fairly prestigious in the museum field,” Mahnken said. “This experience will look great on my resume and give me a springboard into the field whether in a job or graduate school.”

Mahnken also has learned about exhibit design and how museum departments work together to bring exhibits to life.

“Working hands on with artifacts is the most important thing to me,” Mahnken said. “I learned how to build boxes to rehouse items to better preserve them. It’s a rather practical skill.”

Her passion for museum work began on a high school trip when she toured museums and monuments in Washington, D.C. Coming to Northwest has provided additional opportunities for experiential learning.

“The public history program at Northwest has given me the opportunity to research and design an exhibit for the local historical society in Maryville,” Mahnken said. “My experience at Northwest was an extra push that helped me land the internship at the Truman Museum and Library.”

Mahnken plans to graduate in spring 2016 and attend graduate school to pursue a degree in museum studies or public history.


For more information, please contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
mhorn@nwmissouri.edu | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900

Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468