Lethbridge – Five special exhibits in the recent “Stories of Women and Girls: Insights by Undergraduate Students” – an important partnership project between the Galt Museum & Archives and University of Lethbridge Department of History – have created a lasting impact on the participating students.

 Stories of Women and Girls consisted of five varied displays created by undergraduates of the spring 2012 Women’s History course (History 2800) at the University of Lethbridge. “We were intrigued when Dr. Carol Williams approached us with the suggestion that her students create exhibits for the Galt as final assignments in their Women’s History course,” says Wendy Aitkens, Curator at the Galt Museum & Archives. “The professionalism and dedication of Dr. Williams, the Galt staff, and the students produced a valuable and intriguing exhibit.” 

 All of the course students created themed display concepts on the circumstances and contributions of women and girls in our community and beyond. Six projects were selected by a local committee from 25 total submissions. One student withdrew her selected project due to commitments outside of the University, though she was involved later in the year.

 The five projects included in Stories of Women and Girls were: Learn To Do By Doing: Girls Involvement in 4-H by Ashley Henrickson; We Knew Nothing: Educating Girls and Women on Human Sexuality, Motherhood, and Wifehood in 1950s and 1960s by Karissa Patton; Not to Worry: Women’s Early Menstrual Products and Advertisement (1920s) by Kendra Reeves; Finding a Home on the Prairie – Second World War Brides’ Experience by Danielle Simmons; and Three Generations of Women’s Song in Lethbridge, 1932-present by Alysha Smith. The exhibit ran May 19 – October 10.

 During the summer, the sixth student, Lilli Young, along with Patton and Smith, submitted a successful proposal to the Alberta Museums Association to present a session at its annual Conference held in Red Deer in September. The three, supported by Dr. Williams and Aitkens, spoke to museums professionals from across the province about their experience and the controversial issues, dangers and benefits in allowing undergraduate students to produce and display their work in a public history setting.

 Two other growth opportunities resulting from the project include a well-attended public walk-through of the exhibit on September 30 and an upcoming free public presentation at the Lethbridge Historical Society’s October 23 meeting at the Galt, where the students will share their stories beginning at 7:15 pm.

 “One of the students changed her degree program to add history as a minor and wants to do an independent research project on the Anne Campbell singers,” shares Carol Williams. “Another took on the leadership of organizing the AMA panel.”

  “The students were required to use the rich resources of the Galt Archives and Collections for research purposes; choose a subject relating to local women’s history; write a proposal for an exhibit and, for five of them, turn their ideas into a final exhibit,” explains Aitkens. “The Galt staff shared their museum expertise with the students and the five students shared their learning with the general public.”

 “From the Galt’s perspective this partnership was challenging, involved four staff members and held some risk but in the end, the exhibits proved to be successful on many levels.”


·         2012 University of Lethbridge Women’s History course (Hist2800), Dr. Carol Williams, Associate Professor and Chair of Women and Gender Studies at the University of  Lethbridge

·         Students to develop exhibit proposals for their final assignment; some to be chosen to become actual exhibits in the museum.

·         Galt staff discussed concerns about quality, meeting deadlines, subject matter, as well as the positives of providing students with a real life museum experience and participating in a partnership with the U of L.

·         Four staff members presented information to the class about research resources in archival and material culture collections, careers in museums, and exhibit development. 

·         Students worked one on one with the Archivist and Collections Technician at the Galt as they developed their topics and exhibit proposals. 

·         Students were encouraged to consider all the learning styles and to incorporate audio/visuals, interactive elements, archival photographs, artifacts and information gathered from oral interviews.

·         A jury of university and Galt staff and a member from the community reviewed 25 proposals and chose six that involved an informative subject reflecting the Galt’s mandate of human history in southwestern Alberta. 

·         One student withdrew her project because she felt unable to complete her exhibit due to outside commitments, so five exhibits were installed at the Galt 

·         September 20-22, 2012 Three of the 6 students [Alysha Smith, Karissa Patton and Lilli Young] presented at the well-attended Alberta Museums Association Conference session “The Dangers and Benefits of Student Produced Exhibitions: Galt Museum, Lethbridge, AB”.  Session addressed the controversial issues, dangers and benefits in allowing undergraduate students to produce and display their work in a public history setting.


Ashley Henrickson was born and raised in Patricia, Alberta, and is now a second year history major (first year when the project was presented). This year she will be applying to the Education faculty as she would like to become a high school social and English major.

Karissa Patton was born and raised in Calgary and is currently is a fourth year undergraduate student majoring in History. She has worked in the University of Lethbridge Archives, contributed to two oral history projects, and hopes to pursue a Master’s Degree in Public History.

Kendra Reeves hails from from Abbotsford, BC and is a fifth year kinesiology and history major at the U of L. She has been on the varsity rugby team for the past five years, and has captained the past three. Kendra hopes to get into the education program next fall.

Alysha Smith is a fourth year music major who has recently developed a love for history. She aspires to be a music and social studies teacher and believes that both music and history are an integral part of the learning experience for students. She values the opportunities that the “Stories of women and girls” exhibition at the Galt has offered her.

“In the past 2 years my love for history has grown and I am very glad I choose to take Dr. Carol Williams history class. When she first gave us the outline of this project, I was a little worried that I wouldn’t be able to put in the time needed for it with choir and my other music classes, but I choose to stick with it and I am extremely glad I did.”

“I have gained so much from this opportunity: a new-found respect for what the people in museums do; a greater understanding of research, how to research in archives and what can come from looking at the information in archives. I have also learned a lot about my community, things that I would have never known without having the chance to do this project. Most importantly, it has opened other research and volunteer opportunities for me.”

Lilli Young was born and raised in Lethbridge and recently graduated with an undergraduate degree from the University of Lethbridge majoring in history. Lilli quickly developed a keen interest in history and women’s history and developed those interests throughout her degree. Lilli completed an honors thesis on Southern Alberta war brides and was admitted to the University of Lethbridge graduate school in the fall of 2012.

Danielle Simmons bio is not available at this time.


Anine VonkemanComment