“The Mission of the Appalachian Women’s Museum is to gather, preserve, and share the stories of the women of Southern Appalachia,” said Tim Osment, former president and continuing board member of the Appalachian Women’s Museum.
Currently, the physical aspect of the museum is the main focus. Community workdays are scheduled to better preserve AWM’s home in the historic Monteith Farmstead in Dillsboro. The workdays began in early March, coinciding with Women’s History Month. The upcoming workdays will be all day on March 29 and April 19, and are open to anyone who would like to participate.
One of the goals of the Appalachian Women’s Museum is to build community involvement, enriching and enhancing the quality of both the museum and the Dillsboro community. The museum has 27 board members, four committees and one sub-committee, all who are working together with the museum’s vision in mind.
“I think there’s a sense of urgency among all of us to get things moving as quickly as possible,” said Dr. Jessie Swigger, board president of Appalachian Women’s Museum and associate professor of history at Western Carolina University.
The vision of collecting and sharing the stories of the women of Southern Appalachia is something to be proud of. The museum will strive to preserve the rich history of the Appalachian Mountains and its people, both past and present.
“We want people to walk away with the sense of different kinds of lives that women led. There wasn’t just one story, but many stories. Hopefully we will be able to connect past generations with present generations,” said Swigger.
The museum has been a long time coming, facing and overcoming obstacles over the last decade. In 2001, the town of Dillsboro put forth efforts to preserve the Monteith Farmstead, built in 1908, as a Heritage Tourism Site and house the Appalachian Women’s Museum. The farmstead was placed on the National Register of Historic Places seven years later in 2008, but due to economic recession, Dillsboro postponed establishing the museum’s place at the farmstead.
Fortunately, renegotiation in 2012 led to the farmstead becoming a Heritage Tourism Site and the future home of the Appalachian Women’s Museum.
“Ideally, visitors will leave with a sense of not only who people were, but a better sense of who they are and where they come from,” said Swigger.
The board members want to get people talking about the museum and encourage as much involvement as possible. The biggest contribution the community can make to the museum right now is helping with the clean up process and giving financially.