I am the Museum Curator at CCHS. I started with the Society as an intern in 2004. I love that history is so easy to find in Cumberland County, whether it’s picking something up off the ground or shopping at an antique mall.
Please tell our readers a little bit about yourself.
My name is Rachael Zuch. I grew up in Pennsylvania and work at the Cumberland County Historical Society in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. I started working here as an intern when I was in college and I am now the museum curator.
Please tell our readers a little bit about the Cumberland County Historical Society, its mission and why it is important.
We are the local historical society for our county. The mission of the CCHS is to collect, preserve, interpret and promote research and education about the history of Cumberland County. We do this in several ways through our library, museum and programs.
It is important to share local history so that people living here today understand how the landscape and culture around them developed. It is important to collect and preserve things so future generations have the same opportunity to learn from artifacts as we do.
What do you do at the Cumberland County Historical Society?
I am the museum curator, which means I care for and exhibit the artifacts given to our museum. Every year we are working on new changing exhibits on different topics. In the last few years, I’ve worked on the 1960s, mills, historic papers and the Civil War.
Why is it important to learn about our country’s history?
Many decisions we take for granted today came from history. For example, Colonial settlers did not just build roads wherever they felt like it. Instead, they followed the trails started by Native Americans. I think it is amazing to drive to the grocery store today on a road that was once a trading path. Many of the early roads in this area share that history, however, interstate highways have a different story.
Do you have any cool facts you can share about what life was like during Colonial times?
During Colonial times, money was not as available as it is today. People bartered or paid for services with goods. Imagine paying for a doctor visit today with a cartful of firewood or a couple of chickens!
How was life during Colonial times different from the way most kids live in America today?
One major way life was different was travel time. Today, you might drive 10 miles to the store and be home in an hour or two. Back then, the round trip would take around two days — and if you didn’t have a horse, you had to go on foot. Since people didn’t move around as easily, often times you lived in a community where your neighbors raised your food, made your shoes and most everything else you might need.
What is the coolest thing about your job?
The coolest thing about my job is getting to handle items that are old and unusual.
What is a typical day like for you?
Never the same! Some days are quiet and I do research and writing. Other times, I am painting or moving furniture to design museum exhibits. Some days I give a tour or answer people’s questions. Many days, I do all of the above.
What kind of training does it take to do your job?
Museum curators generally go to college and study a field they are interested in, like history, art or science, or they can take a Museum Studies course to learn about museums
When/How did you know you wanted to work in a museum?
I always liked history in school, and my favorite part of history is learning about the things people left behind. I also love variety, and working in a small museum means I get to use many talents, including research, writing, construction and graphic design.
What are some challenges you face in your work?
One challenge is not knowing the answer to the question “What is it?” A little research and I can usually figure it out, but some things in the world have even the experts stumped.
What do you like to do when you are not working?
I spend time with our animals — we have four dogs, a dozen chickens and a pair of peacocks. I also like to garden, work on building projects around the house, read and play video games.