Archival efforts increase with part-time director
By David Leone
WAKE FOREST — Jennifer Smart isn’t coming in flat-footed.
The new assistant director hire for the Wake Forest Historical Museum has been volunteering there for years, served as secretary on the Wake Forest College Birthplace board and has even published a book about the history of the town.
Smart was hired for the permanent part-time position by Wake Forest University, which also pays for the work of Director Ed Morris.
“I’m thrilled. I’m very happy to work here,” Smart said Friday.
Smart is a graduate of the University of Florida with degrees in journalism and history. She has worked at TV stations in Florida and Virginia and most recently was a reporter and anchor with WTVD ABC 11 News in Raleigh.
She both wrote and narrated the museum’s introductory film, The Most Rewarding Things, featuring golfer Arnold Palmer and Dr. Ed Wilson. She authored several short histories, including the 2008 Arcadia Publishing photo book Images of America: Wake Forest.
“Currently, I’m updating our website so it looks slicker and more elegant,” Smart said.
She has another project in the works: “I plan to create a digital archive of historic photos.”
Volunteers are helping with that effort. When completed, it will likely be accessible online, Morris said.
Smart is also working to bring the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street to Wake Forest. According to its website, the traveling exhibit “brings revitalized attention to underserved rural communities through their own Main Street museums, historical societies and other cultural venues … opening doors to a community’s own history, its culture, its people and to an enhanced pride of place.”
Smart will be walking to work. A Wake Forest resident since 1997, in 2008 she moved to her current residence, across the road from the North Main Street museum, where she lives with her husband Sandy. They have two children, Billy and Maggie.
Wake Forest University’s Office of Alumni Services has made the 30-hours-a-week part-time position permanent as part of a deeper commitment to the museum, Morris said in a release.
Recently university contractors restored decaying wood, made other repairs and painted the Dr. Calvin Jones house and the old well as a part of that commitment to preserve its roots in the town of Wake Forest, he added.
The museum and the Birthplace board have 20-25 volunteers who help keep things in order throughout the year. For instance, Durwood Matheny, a forensic handwriting examiner who is vice-president of the Birthplace Society, operates out of an office inside the museum.
To reach Smart, contact her at the museum at 919-556-2911 or [email protected]