30-year museum volunteer to receive state history award
LaDean Harmston, of Idaho Falls, received a 2018 Esto Perpetua Award from the Idaho State Historical Society at a ceremony in Boise on Monday.
The award, which takes its name from the state’s motto, meaning “let it be perpetual,” recognizes people and organizations who have made significant contributions to the preservation and promotion of Idaho history, a Museum of Idaho news release said. Harmston, one of 12 Esto Perpetua Award honorees for 2018, has volunteered at the Museum of Idaho in various capacities for 30 years.
Harmston’s work at the Bonneville Museum, as it was then known, began in the late 1980s after she attended a talk on local geography there with her late husband, Larry. The couple heard the museum was looking for volunteers, and they signed up immediately.
The Harmstons helped create the Eagle Rock, USA, exhibit on the museum’s ground floor, the release said. The exhibit, a detailed walk-through of 10 storefronts as they appeared in Eagle Rock (now Idaho Falls) around the turn of the last century, remains a popular fixture of the museum.
“It was all just a group of dedicated volunteers back then,” Harmston remembers. “The first person that got paid was the janitor.”
After serving in a number of capacities for the museum, including building up the collection of artifacts and working the front desk, Harmston has spent the last several years working in the museum’s archives.
There, she catalogues documents and artifacts and serves as a resource for writers, researchers, media and all who come looking for answers in eastern Idaho’s past.