Wendy Joseph begins as curator at GAR Museum

When Wendy Joseph and her husband, Stefan Wuensch, moved to Lynn in 2002, she developed an immediate love of the city’s glorious history and its landmarks.

Wendy Joseph, the new curator at building manager at the Grand Army of the Republic Hall and Museum, Lyn, is pictured inside the GAR Hall Wednesday.

Joseph quickly became a highly respected community leader and her work in commemorating the life of Frederick Douglass has been commended citywide, an effort that culminates with an annual Douglass speech reading held each year on the night before the Fourth of July. She co-chaired the Frederick Douglass 200th Birthday Series of events in Lynn in 2018 and is a member of the Juneteenth Committee.

A brilliant student of history, Joseph has been appointed as the new curator and building manager at the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) Hall and Museum, one of the city’s most treasured buildings in the city. She began in her new, full-time position on Feb. 9 at the Museum which is located at 58 Andrew St., Lynn. The trustees of the Grand Army of the Republic selected her to the key leadership post.

“I am very excited to begin my new job,” Joseph said Wednesday.

Prior to becoming curator, Joseph was a member of the Civil War Roundtable and president of the Friends of the Lynn GAR, a charitable group that raises funds for the restoration of the building.

As the GAR.lynn website so precisely informs, “The Grand Army of the Republic Hall and Museum in Lynn is one of the last extant buildings in the United States still used for its original purpose to honor the men who fought to save the Union during the Civil War. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, for its significance in military, architectural, and social history.”

Joseph understands the significance of her appointment while the city and the nation are observing Black History Month.  Close to 180,000 Blacks served gallantly in the Union Army during the Civil War. Many of those brave veterans are honored inside Lynn’s GAR Museum, one of the few buildings of its kind in New England.

“The GAR Hall was the association that the returning Union soldiers of the Civil War created to take care of the widows and the orphans,” said Joseph. “We host meetings for the families of Union Army veterans and conduct the Civil War Roundtable, whose mission is to keep the memories of the Civil War alive.”

Joseph has ambitious plans in her new role. She intends to invite all Lynn students to tour the museum and view GAR-produced presentations about the Civil War (The COVID-19 pandemic has put those plans on hold). She has fielded individual requests from parents for current tours, notably from parents who are home-schooling their children.

“Anyone can come in here and get a tour and if their relative has served during the Civil War, we can give them a copy of their ancestor’s photo,” said Joseph.

Joseph has reached out to Doneeca Thurston, director of the Lynn Museum, for a potential collaboration by the two organizations.

Joseph grew up in Bellingham and attended Salem University where she received a degree in Theater and Communications.

In addition to her work at the Museum, Joseph is currently volunteering as a member of the Lynn Literacy Committee that will be recognizing its tenth year during a virtual event on March 18.

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