Five interviews with Jarod Kearney, the James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library’s curator, are listed below. They cover the topics of Jarod’s work experience and his knowledge of the peace medal, the Monroe Desk, the Bas Relief of the Louisiana Purchase Signing, and the telescope. Transcripts of the interview follow the video.
Jarod’s Personal Interview
Eric: This is Jarod Kearney and he is the curator of the James Monroe Museum. What exactly does the curator do, Jarod?
Jarod: I manage the collections. Some museums have different curators for different things, but in this case I am the curator of exhibits, collections, and education. Also, I run the guides and the interns.
Eric: Okay. How did you get the job? What is your expertise, your background, stuff like that?
Jarod: I have a B.A in history from UNCG and an MA in museum studies from UNCG. I was a director of a museum on Long Island, a curator in New York, and a curator in the Shenandoah Valley before here.
Eric: Cool, been just about everywhere.
Eric: Do you have a favorite piece of the museum, a favorite artifact?
Jarod: Yes. I think the court suit is probably one of my favorites, at least. It is pretty amazing that we have it and it is in really good condition.
Eric: Yes, I’ve seen it, it is pretty nice. Thank you, Jarod, and we will see you later.
Jarod’s Peace Medal Interview
Eric: This is the James Monroe peace medal and this is Jarod. Tell us a little about this Jarod.
Jarod: Well it is a Native American peace medal, which was a common practice back in the day where whenever the U.S. government was doing diplomatic negotiations with the tribes, they would issue these peace medals. And it became sort of a thing. Jefferson started minting them. The look of them sort of changed over the years, but basically it would usually involve the U.S president, or the bust of the U.S president on the front and the back there would be, usually, a clasped hands, a tomahawk, a peace tomahawk, you know things like that. They were not issued usually with holes in them, but a lot of times you’ll find them with holes from where the Native Americans would drill them and put them around their necks. They became really sought after during the negotiations, but eventually, as we all know, they sort of became meaningless as the century went on. This particular one came to us through Laurence Gouverneur’s collection, who was one of the founders of the museum, and he was the direct descendant of James Monroe so it came right down through. This one does not have a hole drilled into it and it is made of copper.
Eric: Alright, cool. Thanks Jarod.
Jarod’s Monroe Desk Interview
Eric: This is James Monroe’s desk and this is Jarod and he’s going to tell us a little bit more about it.
Jarod: This is the desk that James Monroe most likely wrote the Monroe Doctrine on. He purchased it in France when he was over there. And they brought it back, the family. Then they moved it into the White House whenever he moved in. Something interesting about it is that it has a secret compartment, which is not terribly atypical. I’m going to leave it down, but if you pull this up, there is a space down there. What happened was when Laurence Gouverneur Hoes, he was one of the founders of the museum, was a child he opened that up and there was a whole bunch of letters in there from Monroe to various people and from people to Monroe. So it was kind of one of those cool sort of finds that you see on Antiques Roadshow or something. It’s a great desk in pretty good shape. It has held up well over the years.
Eric: Alright Jarod. Thanks a lot and we will see you later.
Jarod’s Bas Relief of the Louisiana Purchase Signing Interview
Eric: This is a Bas Relief of the signing of the Louisiana Purchase Treaty and Jarod is going to tell us a little bit more about it.
Jarod: Well this one is a plaster mold or, excuse me, a plaster template for a larger bronze sculpture that is actually sitting up in the Missouri State capital. The actual one is bigger. This one was created for the 1904 World’s Fair, and a guy named Karl Bitter did the sculpture. It depicts the signing of the Louisiana Treaty, which took place in 1803. The interesting thing about this is that it’s very delicate. It wasn’t meant to last so the fact that it’s still “relatively” intact is pretty remarkable.
Eric: Yeah those fingers are broken aren’t they, right there?
Eric: Alright, well thanks Jarod, I appreciate it.
Jarod’s Telescope Interview
Eric: This is James Monroe’s telescope and Jarod is going to tell us a little bit more about it.
Jarod: These were very popular among officers throughout the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. James Monroe owned this telescope and according to family tradition, he actually had this with him when he was scouting for the War of 1812. Actually in 1814, when the British were coming towards Washington, so he would’ve had this out and about with him checking out their progress. It’s small, it’s brass and it folds up, it’s a really useful item.
Eric: Alright Jarod, thanks a lot.