Historical society manager enjoys her many roles
Last updated 10/25/2023 at 3:01pm | View PDF
Katharine Andrew was in Hinsdale just once before accepting the position of manager at the Hinsdale Historical Society. During the "one horrible semester" that she spent on the Niles North High School cross country team, Andrew traveled to Katherine Legge Memorial Park and still recalls the beautiful, historic homes she saw along the way. After her interview last year at Hinsdale's Immanuel Hall, she found herself excited once again by the town's history.
"I couldn't say no when they offered me the job," said Andrew, a lifelong history and genealogy buff who studied political science and Germanic studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago before earning a master's degree in library and information science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Andrew said she credits her mother and grandmother for fostering the interest that has fueled her education and career.
"I was surrounded by two amazing women who love history," said Andrew, who remembers visiting The Genealogy Center at Allen County Public Library in Ft. Wayne, Ind., while her grandmother dug into the family's ancestry.
Andrew was hired as part-time manager of the Hinsdale Historical Society in October 2022 and became a full-time member of the team in January, just as the village was entering its 150th year. As manager, Andrew said she "wears lots of hats," including those of an archivist, a curator, a graphic designer and a social media marketer. She said she uses all of those hats to make history fun, accessible and engaging through displays, events and activities for anyone who wants to know more about the village.
With the 150th exhibit ending last month, Andrew said the historical society is entering a membership drive and gearing up for a pair of events, both of which will utilize Immanuel Hall.
In November, the Historical Society will introduce Deer in the 'Dale, which invites guests to take photos with live reindeer while enjoying crafts and learning about Hinsdale's history, Andrew said. December brings the return of Holly Jolly Trolley, which includes a tour of Hinsdale's holiday light displays and a reception in Immanuel Hall.
Meanwhile, Andrew said she is working with the society's Junior Board to open the museum at 15 S. Clay for regular walk-in tours.
Ongoing work on the society's plaque program, which recognizes buildings within the village that are at least 90 years old, means lots of research into individual homes and buildings throughout town. She said that's a part of the job that she thoroughly enjoys.
"I feel like Nancy Drew sometimes," said Andrew, who spent a semester in Germany researching her own family history and now shares her research skills through her own company, KKA Genealogy. Andrew teaches genealogy research skills through classes and speeches at libraries, historical societies and other organizations. She also will do research for a family or individual.
After a year as manager of the Hinsdale Historical Society, Andrew said she has learned a lot about the village's storied past, and she looks forward to learning, and sharing, even more.
"There are so many amazing things about the history of Hinsdale," she said.
- story by Sandy Illian Bosch, photo by Jim Slonoff