Working in the archive is punctuated by helping out other parts of the museum. Last week volunteers (and staff) dressed up for a mini-performance in one of the historic houses. This is the post-performance performance, haha.
I recently worked on three boxes of the collection that had lived in someone’s barn for decades (and apparently had a bird at some point crawl in and die, leaving behind a bird silloutte and little feathers all over a group of papers). These papers were (unsurprisingly) absolutely disgusting. Yikes! Though cleaning up the papers provided a welcome change of pace.
So far it’s been a weird combination of me making things up and looking up suggestions online. My supervisor sometimes makes statements like “it absolutely doesn’t matter what order the materials were in originally” that sort of blow my mind. I was pretty sure that taking note of the original arrangement (if there is one) was something worth doing. I was also criticized for sorting in piles, because when you sort you are not suppose to make piles?! (I’m not quite sure what that means!) At this point I feel like I was absolutely spoiled with all the knowledge and help from others at my last internship. I am a bit hesitant to mention these sorts of things on a public blog, especially as there are some helpful moments, but it is a part of what is shaping my experience here so it feel dishonest not to consider all aspects of the internship.
Cats in the archive! An envelope of kitten photos somehow ended up wedged in between photos of buildings of York. This should probably return to the collection’s original owner.
The bulk of the Peter Moore Collection is comprised of 20th century photographs and business related papers. Here is junk mail sent to Roger Norton, a local businessman. I’ve come to realize I love old junk mail!
What a past few weeks it’s been!
Once training finished I got a chance to start getting into my big project for the summer – the Peter Moore Collection. Peter Moore was (and is) a firefighter in the York area. He started collecting local postcards, both old and new, that documented the changes of the York area. He also began collecting all kind of local ephemera, especially of items that documented local businesses and celebrations – business cards, brochures, flyers, photographs, and publications. In the 1990s and early 2000s he wrote an article for the local paper on Unknown Histories of the area.There are a lot of duplicates to be weeded out, and a lot of photocopies of materials he found in the Museum for his article research.
I’m glad I reboxed 115 boxes of material earlier in the year – 38 boxes and a handful of binders don’t seem all that terrible to tackle. I’ve been seriously digging into the collection in the past week, and I’m almost halfway through an initial sorting!
The Museum has its roots as a historical society, and its roots still show in some places, particularly in the part of the Museum where I work. The project so far has been a great experience in terms of working through a collection and researching information for the finding aid, but I haven’t been learning as much about the technical details of archiving as I’d hoped. To make up for that I’ve been doing a lot of online research, reading the SAA list-serv archive and searching other museums and archives for advice on the handling of particular collection items and how to make a finding aid that is up to current standards.
Inside the 1930s junk mail envelope – a penny to be used for mailing in the contest entry slip.
York Water District
Training ended last Friday with a field trip themed “mountain people, pond people, and dead people.” We crashed our way through the woods to see graves that were hidden in the woods off the beaten path, and then we went up to the local mountain (which is barely more than a glorified hill) to check out the view. The Water District in York (where we hiked in the woods) is now preserved land, but 100-150 years ago it was an area populated by families. No one lives there now, but there is evidence of the past in the form of gravestones and cellar stones.
The Museum encompasses several Museum buildings and open outdoor areas, each of which I’ll say a little bit about in future posts. This is Steedman Woods. It’s a beautiful little stretch of forest that runs along the York River. No admission charges here of course. The land was donated to the Museum to be preserved as a pocket of unchanged landscape.
I have arrived in a land missing big box stores and fast food drive thrus. A place where stores close early and the smog and congestion of public buses is absent. York is a small town in Maine just over the New Hampshire border. It’s a coastal town that sees its population ebb and flow with the coming and going of summer visitors. I suppose I am one of those summer outsiders.
It has been just over a week since touching down in Vactionland (that’s the Maine state motto, by the way). I am just about settled into the house I’m living in with three other interns. This is especially the case as 1.5 weeks into living here we’ve finally gotten connected with the rest of the world through internet! It’s funny how being connected to the rest of the world makes me feel more connected with my abode.
In my capacity as the Library Fellow I’ll be processing the Peter Moore Collection (more on that later). The other three fellows here at the Museum are working on interpretive ideas for a Tavern building.
This week has been week 2 of 2 involving training with the Museum’s buildings and procedures. Saturday is opening day for the season and will kick off the rest of the summer of work and tours.
Posted in Travel
Tagged Maine, MOY, work, York