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!