September 2007 Issue
PERSONAL: Klei, a widow, has three grown children and four grandchildren.
OCCUPATION: Curator, Warren County Historical Society Museum
PASSION FOR HISTORY: Growing up in Connecticut, she enjoyed visiting historical sites, and history was one of her favorite subjects in school. When her children were young, she and her husband took family vacations that included historical points of interest. "There are so many interesting places that bring history alive," she says.
FINDING HER NICHE: She holds a Ph.D. in Germanic Languages and Literature and taught at the secondary and college levels for 12 years in Cincinnati. After the Klei family moved to Lebanon, she introduced herself at the museum and immediately became a volunteer. "I was kind of like a jack of all trades. I got into it gradually and learned along the way. In 1999, I became the first paid curator at the museum." Over the years, she has registered thousands of objects relating to Warren County’s history.
HER FAVORITE ARTIFACT: The museum has seven rooms of Shaker objects from eastern communities as well as Union Village, a Shaker community near Lebanon that closed in the early 20th century. She finds the Shaker wheelbarrow to be significant because its accumulation of dust and dirt and its special shine show that it once was used. Another of her favorite pieces is the candle stand made in Union Village.
MEMORABLE MOMENTS: Klei never forgets the significant donations made by friends of the museum. Also, the Ohio Museums Association gave a silver award to the historical society’s book Lebanon, Ohio: Celebrating 200 Years 1802–2002.
LOOKING FORWARD TO: Klei plans to create a permanent exhibit on the National Normal University, founded in Lebanon in 1855. The school, which trained thousands of teachers, closed in 1917.