Bringing Cook County History to Life Since 1924


If any of these volunteer opportunities interest you please contact us by phone or email:  218-387-2883 or

Museum Docent/Front Desk Attendant

Welcome visitors and help them learn about and enjoy their visit to the Museum. Don’t worry if you don’t have all of the answers – we will train you on the basic information and the most frequently asked questions. This is a great opportunity to learn more about our local history as you are encouraged to use your down time reading our many resources and exploring the Museum.
Physical requirements are minimal. Docents open and close the museum, help keep exhibits and public areas tidy, and welcome and engage each visitor.
We are open in the summer Tuesday – Saturday from 11:00 am – 4:00 pm. In the winter we are open Friday from 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm and Saturday from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm.
You can choose your shift (half-day or full day) and work as much or as little as you like. Many docents pair up to share a shift, dividing the days that work for their schedule.

Harbor Tour Guide
On summer Saturdays the Historical Society offers free harbor history walking tours (weather permitting). The tours meet at 1:00 p.m. in front of the Museum and generally last one hour. We already have a printed guide for you to follow so after a rehearsal or two you would be good to go!
This is a great job for someone outgoing and does requires walking a distance and can be modified based on your physical abilities. Having a partner to help show the photographs makes it even easier. These tours are really fun and people have a great time.

We are always in need of someone capable of handyman tasks like painting, basic carpentry like installing shelving, moving larger items, creating solutions for parts of exhibits, climbing ladders to change lightbulbs, and all sorts of strange things you don’t know you need until you do!

Grounds keeping/Landscaping
Do you love mowing lawns or gardening? The Historical Society has four different locations that need the grass cut and some flower beds kept in good shape. A weekly schedule would be great during the growing season. This would be a great job to share with another volunteer if a weekly schedule is too much.
In the wintertime we also need help with shoveling at two of those locations. Obviously this would be on an as needed basis, but it would be great to have someone to call when the snow starts falling!

Distribution Volunteer

We need help distributing brochures, posters and flyers around the community. This is perfect for the volunteer that wants to keep their commitment short and sweet, but make such a difference for us! Distribution help is mainly needed during the summer months (May – October) and does require transportation to get around the County.

Special Event Volunteer
Help us out during our special events like Fish Dinners, Small Talks, Scavenger Hunt, School Field Trip Visits or Bally Demo Days. We always needs people to help with tickets, selling merchandise, keeping track of and guiding participants, making presentations, setting up and cleaning up, you name it! Most of our events are during the summer. This is another way to help out in short bursts and make a big difference.

Do you like to research and write? We are always in need of new ideas for articles and people to research and write them for our quarterly newsletter. The time commitment is minimal unless you would like to be a regular contributor. Choose a topic you love.

Photos Volunteer

Database: We have an ongoing project of getting all of our wonderful photographs into our database and then available to search online. The first step in this process is getting all of the data organized in an Excel spreadsheet to be added to our database. This is a very detail oriented project requiring decent computer skills. After learning the procedure, most of it can be done at home. It would be best if each section could be completed by one volunteer. Each section takes about 30 total hours of time.
Digitize/Scan: Once the photograph records are added to the database, the digital images need to be attached before they can be made available online. We have many of the photos digitized already, but many more are not. This is also very detail oriented work, verifying that the photographs match the records and are of good quality. This project does need to be done at the Museum. It would be best if each section could be completed by one volunteer. Each section takes about 10 hours of time.

Oral Histories

Interviewer:   Recording the stories of our area is so important. We have quite a list of people we would like to interview and it is always growing. Recording an oral history is a unique skill and does require some training. We use portable, digital audio and video recorders. Many of these interviews are done in people’s homes or at the Care Center. We would prefer someone or a team willing to be trained and then be available to do interviews on a fairly regular basis, but if there is only one that you would like to do that would be great. The stories are fascinating and always lead to more questions! Each interview averages a little over an hour.
Transcriber:    Once the oral histories are recorded, they need to be typed up. Each interview takes on average 4-5 hours to type and it is fascinating to listen to the stories. This could be done at home if you have transcription software and equipment. This is another great project for volunteers who like shorter commitments.

Archives Volunteer

There are many different ways to help us process and organize our archives for all levels of computer skills.
Clipping: We always need help keeping up with current events – the history of tomorrow! The Clipping Volunteer will go through current newspapers, magazines and other documents and “clip” any articles or information that is noteworthy. These clippings are then assigned a subject area and placed in a paper file about that subject.

The only necessary computer activities for clipping are to add names and search terms to already existing computer records. It’s easy and a great way to keep up with current events. This is quiet work with no public interaction necessary. Help when you can and create your own schedule!
Filing: Once the clipping is done, those nuggets of information need to find their way into those paper files. This job is also quiet with no public interaction necessary. In fact, the paper files are in the basement which is always cool during the summer. Filing usually takes a couple of hours each month so your time commitment would be minimal and greatly appreciated!
Obituaries: We are in an ongoing project to get all of the text and images of our obituaries collection available online. There are many different steps in this process, but all do require a volunteer that is comfortable using a computer and has good typing skills. Part of this project could be done at home if you have the right computer equipment and OCR software.

Digitize Audio and Video

We have many great videos and recordings that are on VHS or cassette tape or even some on reel to reel. One great collection is from Holly Nelson who made VHS tapes of almost every showing on PAC 13, the local cable channel. We are looking for volunteers who can help us get these priceless collections digitized so we can access them easily and preserve the originals.

Board Member

The Cook County Historical Society is a nonprofit organization with a Board of Directors. Do you have a special skill such as accounting, legal, historic preservation, management or fundraising? We are always looking to recruit people that offer something special to our organization. If you are interested, please give us a call and we’ll get you in touch with a board member.