MARYVILLE, Mo. — It might seem an unlikely pairing, but a class of history students is developing an exhibit about folk music.

Brent Trout, a graduate student at Northwest Missouri State University, said the life of a history student revolves around reading books and writing research papers. But when he and 20-plus other students enrolled in Dr. Elyssa Ford’s History of American Folklife course this fall, they began combining their research skills with an introduction to audio editing and Photoshop in preparation for an exhibit for the Nodaway County Museum.

“It’s another way to interpret history,” said Mr. Trout, who is from O’Fallon, Mo. “Folk music is oral history.”

While their exhibit won’t reveal any recently discovered folk history about Northwest Missouri, they will take on some popular subjects, such as Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie, the artist who wrote “This Land is Your Land,” among many others.

Dr. Ford said the History of American Folklife is a long-standing course at Northwest and is part of the public history requirement for history minors. Given her interest in music, she thought it would be fun to integrate the topic of folk music into the design and creation of an exhibit.

She said the students, some of whom are getting their first introduction to the various design and marketing elements involved with installing an exhibit, are “willing to step outside of their comfort zones as historians.”

Seven groups, each containing one graduate student, have focused on a particular topic. The exhibit will include information on Appalachian music, Kansas City jazz, Missouri ragtime music, the Lomaxes, Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan and modern indie-folk. It opens Nov. 16 at the Nodaway County Historical Society’s museum, at 110 Walnut St.

Coinciding with the grand opening is a concert by folk musician Ryan Spearman, at 7 p.m. in the Ron Houston Performing Arts Center. Shuttles will provide free transportation from the concert to the museum. Mr. Spearman, a St. Louis resident, has toured all over the U.S. and Europe.

Mr. Trout said the Missouri Arts Council has assisted financially in putting the project together. The class also has received guidance from designers from the National Archives in Kansas City and from the Kansas Historical Society Museum in Topeka, Kan.

Jimmy Myers can be reached

at Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPMyers.

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