Hailing from right here in the Texas Panhandle, Renea has spent decades collecting experiences which have instilled a strong love and deep appreciation for the region. Training as an archaeologist, she graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and Philosophy from Texas Tech University in 2010. While pursuing her Master’s degree at WTAMU, she began as an intern for the Research Center at PPHM in the fall of 2017. Since then, she has continued to work in the archives processing collections in order to facilitate ease of access to archival material. In addition, she gladly helps visiting researchers who need help locating sources related to their interest and inquiries.
While archiving is Renea’s occupation, it is also her vocation. In 2012, after meeting Guggenheim Fellow Scott Hyde (b.1926- ), she became his personal archivist; organizing, preserving, and presenting the material from his prolific photography career. This habit of protecting unique material blossomed into a personal hobby of collecting “orphaned objects” (old photos, letters, and journals without provenance). After several years, she took the idea to heart that history is for everyone and meant to be shared; keeping the material in a filing cabinet wasn’t helping anyone. Renea began the Archivist-At-Large project in order to share these artifacts online and encourage individuals to find their own treasures to preserve and share.
When she isn’t shuffling through old papers and pictures, she is collecting in other ways. As often as possible, she collects and creates art. Building a strong assortment of original art featuring local artists has been a passion for several years. As The Unfettered Lark, she creates art pieces in a variety of mediums, collage being the most typical mode. She loves collecting memories with her very close-knit family. Road trips and game nights with her son Matt, her parents, siblings, and rambunctious nieces and nephews are two of her favorite memory making activities.
Renea continually remarks on how fortunate we are to have such rich resources in a wide variety of fields under one roof. “There is something for absolutely everyone to be interested in at PPHM,” she says. “Working with the collections and visitors as an archivist in the Research Center is literally a dream job for me. I want to be exactly what I am; for that, I am so grateful. Collecting, preserving, and presenting the artifacts of the past allows us to better understand the present and our trajectory into the future. Exploring and sharing our vast collections is something I look forward to for many years to come. I would encourage every single person to take an active role as a steward of history, both personal and beyond. Visit the museum, save those old letters, fill out your family tree, read old newspapers (they can be quite interesting), ask older generations about their story, get involved! When we come together to share our discoveries, a complex and robust narrative can be crafted. I believe each life lived is like a thread. Without tangible objects to recall those lives, the tapestry of life on Earth is incomplete.”