With the last batch of artifacts delivered to the records storage facility for the Shafer/Motherway Collection, I have met the initial goal of my project, completing the inventory in preparation for appraisal and accession. Since this collection is being constructed with little to no input from its creators, this inventory phase has been crucial to understanding the materials and also planning for their preservation.
Last weekend, I spent a few hours sorting documents which we recovered from the attic of the house. Interesting discoveries continue to abound, including lecture notes and exams from Mary Shafer Motherway’s years as a medical student. An important realization brought about by these documents is that Mary continued her education even after she received her initial Registered Nurse License and moved to Panama with her husband, James, to work in the Canal Zone.
I look forward to also beginning the description of the collection and preparing a database that is DACS and EAD compliant for development of future reference tools. I will be using Microsoft Excel to store descriptive information since this is a widely-accepted tool that can be imported into most software programs that could be obtained in the future for storing this data.
In the past two months, I’ve worked with the members of the Burkittsville Preservation Association to recover a collection of historical records and artifacts from the Hamilton Willard Shafer House. The process has been illuminative in many ways, not only considering the unique environment in which I’m working to process a collection, but also gaining the experience of essentially constructing a collection from scratch.
When this project began, I had first impressions about the size of the collection I would be working with. Having toured the site and spoken with members who were actively working on clearing out the house, I assumed that at most we would find a dozen or so boxes of materials that would constitute the collection. Setting to work, I initially saw rooms full of debris and trash from years of vandalism, leading me to assume that little if anything of historical significance was left to be found.
I was wrong!