The first stage of my consulting project has now been finished with the completion of the accession inventory for the Shafer/Motherway Papers. This project has been the first full appraisal/acquisition that I’ve completed and the process has been very illuminating. Throughout the past three months, the collection has developed into an impressive archive that will not only be valuable to future research and scholarship, but will also support the activities of the preservation association in its restoration of the Hamilton Willard Shafer Farm.
Overall, the collection incorporates three groups: Manuscripts, Objects, and Textiles/Apparel. The manuscripts group includes six series which follow the progression of the Shafer and Motherway Families over a period of over 150 years. The oldest documents in the collection date back to the American Civil War and the group is particularly strong in materials from the 1920s, the Great Depression, and the World War II eras. There are 169 folders of records in the manuscripts group, covering 4 linear feet.
While this collection is small in the larger-scheme of things, it is double the size I originally assessed it to be. As the recovery process at the farm grew from 2-3 weeks to 2 months, I quickly realized that we would have a larger amount of material to work with.
This inventory is essential not only for formalizing the accession of the collection to the Burkittsville Preservation Association, but it is also vital for planning the next steps of preserving the collection and making it accessible. Our next step in the process will be estimating the cost of supplies (boxes, folders, photo envelopes, interleaving, etc.) that will be needed to rehouse the collection. While inventorying the collection, I took measurements of every 3-dimensional object so that boxes or other housing can be procured to store them.
Most of all, I’m excited to see how the collection has evolved from just a few records detailing the life of one member of the family to a multi-generational assortment of documents, objects, and textiles that provide exceptional context to the history of the Hamilton Willard Shafer farm and the Shafer Family who lived there for over a century and a half.
Jody Brumage is a graduate student in San Jose State University's Masters of Archives and Records Administration program. This project is fulfilling the MARA 295 course requirements for an Organizational Consultation Project.