Jennifer Capps, on a recent trip to Rome, Italy
NAME: Jennifer Elaine Capps
TITLE: VP of Curatorship & Exhibition FOR: Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site
SINCE: I have been Curator since 1993. I have worked at the Harrison Home since August 1990.
ORIGINALLY FROM: Fountain City, Wayne County, Indiana
YOUR JOB DUTIES INCLUDE: As Curator my main duty is to care for the collections at the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site. I work with a Collections Committee planning yearly exhibits, create label text and panels, and install the exhibit. I process incoming and outgoing loans. I catalogue acquisitions; maintain the collections’ computerized database, inventory collection storage and exhibit areas; monitor temperature and humidity, and help oversee the maintenance of the 16-room Italianate home and carriage house.
Working at a small museum all of our staff have a variety of duties. I also maintain the web site, function as on site IT support, and answer photo, research, and genealogy inquiries.
YOU WORK HOW MANY HOURS WEEKLY: It varies, but usually more than 40 hours a week.
PROJECT/S YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF: In general, I am proud that I am preserving and sharing a love of history.
BEST PART OF YOUR JOB: The best part of my job is being able to connect to the past. I love history and I get to spend time up close and personal with the artifacts. I love making connections. For example: finding a quote from a letter or diary, finding a historic photo of the place or event mentioned, and having an artifacts related to the place or event. You get the complete picture, a look into the past.
WORST PART OF YOUR JOB: Not enough time.
HOW YOU DEFINE PERSONAL SUCCESS: Accomplishing the goals set forth, being able to check them off the list.
ADVICE TO SOMEONE ELSE WHO WOULD LIKE TO DO WHAT YOU DO? Volunteer or intern at a museum to see if you like the duties of a curator.
IF YOU WERE GRANTED ONE WISH RELATING TO YOUR ORGANIZATION, WHAT WOULD IT BE? Additional funding is needed to help fulfill our mission.
WOULDN’T HAVE MADE IT TO WHERE I AM WITHOUT: My family– my mother and aunt volunteer at the Levi Coffin State Historic Site. My family is interested in genealogy and history. Family vacations always included a stop at a historic site.
WHAT MOTIVATES YOU? Knowing that we can help spark a love of history in a new generation.
HOW DO YOU ‘RECHARGE YOUR BATTERIES’? Vacation time helps recharge my batteries. Vacations always include a stop at a historic site. Spending time with my husband, pets, and family. Weekend camping trips with friends, going to a monthly scrapbooking gathering, and riding roller coasters all help.
WHO WERE/ARE YOUR MENTORS AND HOW DID THEY HELP? Again I would have to say my family. My grandparents were and are an influence. My grandparents collect antiques; share their love of history and family history. When I first started at the Harrison Home, curator Martha Thomas showed me the ropes and introduced me to the Harrison collection.
WHAT SPARKED YOUR INTEREST IN HISTORY: I do not remember a time that I was not fascinated with history. When I was seven my grandparents took me to Springfield, Illinois, to visit the Lincoln sites. This trip is my first memory of really being interesting in history.
MOST INTERESTING BIT OF INDIANAPOLIS HISTORY YOU’VE ENCOUNTERED? I love the article by Agnes McCullough Hanna in the late 1920s and early 1930s for the Indianapolis Star on significant house and the families that lived in the houses.
FAVORITE PERSON FROM INDIANAPOLIS PAST? Benjamin Harrison WHY? I have a very intimate knowledge of the Harrison family and their time in Indianapolis.
ANY INTERESTING FAMILY CONNECTIONS TO INDIANAPOLIS PAST? I do not know of any family connections to Indianapolis. My families were early inhabitants of Wayne and Randolph Counties.
FAVORITE VIEW IN THE CITY? The view of the circle from the Columbia Club.
FAVORITE RESTAURANT IN INDIANAPOLIS? It is hard to pick a favorite, but I love the historic atmosphere of the Rathskellar. On the east side I would pick Jockamo Pizza and the Oriental Inn.
FAVORITE CITY BESIDES INDIANAPOLIS? I cannot just pick one. Chicago,Illinois; New Orleans, Louisiana; Rome, Italy.
FAVORITE HISTORY RELATED BOOK OR MOVIE? I love the Magnificent Ambersons (book or movie with Joseph Cotton) for an Indianapolis connection and anything about Pompeii.
ULTIMATE MORNING BEVERAGE: Hot tea
COLLECT ANYTHING? I started collecting china plates as a child. I mainly have transfer plates with historical scenes. I also collect Pyrex, and a little bit of this and that.
FAVORITE QUOTE? All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them. ~Walt Disney
IF YOUR LIFE HAD A THEME SONG, IT WOULD BE? I don’t know that I would call it a theme song, but our family song is “As Time Goes By.” It is my grandparent’s song played at their wedding, my parent’s wedding, and my wedding.