Fall Quarter 2017

  In the fall of 2017, I took two graduate level classes for the first time since fall 2016. One class was the usual type of research and writing class one might expect. The other was an archives class with two professors and it was significantly more work than I anticipated. 

 In addition to writing a new article for Spokane Historical, I learned a lot about traditional and digital archives. I still don’t want to be an archivist but I think the class helped me better understand how to use archives for my own research. 

At the Eastern Washington Branch of the Washington State Archives in Cheney, Washington.

 Other exciting news, I’ve been working to have a local cemetery placed on the National Register of Historic Places. That is the goal, however, it might be too lofty of a goal considering how small the community is. Part of the process required sending the nomination to a state level office. The people at the Washington office are very friendly and helpful. I’ve been told the National Register is a truly tough sell, especially for a cemetery. But, here comes a silver lining, it might make it onto the state register. I’ve been waiting for the nomination package to undergo an informal review since September. I received an e-mail just before Christmas and am now waiting for my Formal Review Board date.  Look out Washington Heritage Register (WHR), you might be gaining one more sight this Spring! 

 By getting the package polished for the WHR, my hope is that the nomination will be stronger at the national level. But, for now, I’m just focusing on the state level. 

Medical Lake Cemetery, “First Addition” map Surveyor – John W. Strack (Engineer) Map courtesy of the Spokane County Auditor’s Office. – Doc. No. 3100700, Plat No. 720

My Project

          In the final days of my internship, I was able to turn my research paper into a page on the SHS website. Maybe, if I had a little more time, I could have made it a bit more flashy, but the most important things is that it’s out in the world. Click here to read and see the project. I also made the page that can be accessed with the button at the end of the page. 

Week Seven Ohio Internship

I finished reading and writing a book review for The Participatory Museum. I thought it was good. My week was action packed and full of fun. 

Monday, The first two hours of the day were spent adjusting the layout of my deeds project. I want the deeds in the appendix to be large enough to read, but not take up too many pages. I turned it back into the director for some final feedback. I might have one more round of edits because I added some things. We all went out to lunch together. SHS is closed to the public on Mondays and the weather was so nice that we decided to go out for lunch. It was nice.

Tuesday, Two hours in the gift shop talking with guests. 30 minutes writing up a short article for the SHS newsletter. I spent the day tackling the filing that I pulled out of the cubby. While I was sorting the papers I found some information on one of the objects in the 2017 collection. The director thought it was interesting enough to let the members know. Just a 100 word write up. I also took and edited photos of the maps and blue prints that are going into the archive.

In the library and archive. 

Wednesday, We all came in an hour late today! Five hours putting away the rest of the archive items from the cubby. 15 minutes on customer request. The customer read something and the author cited a source from the SHS archive, so I tracked it down and scanned the page. 30 minutes Collections, adding two new items to the 2017 collection. It sounds like new interns will be starting next week. The director completed my end of internship paperwork, I did too. It should be attached. I also faxed it to the internship office at EWU. I have my exit interview on Monday. We are planning a farewell bbq for next Thursday.

Thursday, Five hours re-organizing an office. Keys have gone missing. I was trying to help find the keys and just decided that the best way was to remove everything from the space, sort it and then put it back. I did not find the keys but everyone is happy to have the space looking clean. Two and half hours working in the gift shop and talking with visitors.

Friday, One hour on my deeds project. Was the file corrupted? I don’t know, but it wasn’t working the way it should have. I fixed it. Friday is normally a busser day for visitors but not today. Maybe it was the rain. I spent the day on odds and ends, helping with the trash and recycling, trying to make a label maker work, tracking down collection items, nothing exciting, just waiting for visitors who never came. It’s rained a lot during my time here. 

Thoughts, I think I’m going to miss this place. SHS has about 400 members. There is so much competition for people’s time, attention, and money. I think I need to learn about advertising and fundraising. Maybe my next internship can focus on that.

Week Six Ohio Internship

Monday: SIx hours de-install exhibit. The most difficult part was finding a place to store everything coming out of the exhibit. I helped with painting and sanding the walls to get everything looking freshened up for the new exhibit that will be installed tomorrow.

Tuesday: The exhibit and its installers arrived. It took about an hour to get everything set up. I spent about a half hour reading everything that came with it. I spent an hour in the gift shop and talking with visitors. The rest of the day was spent loading the last of the 2016 collection into Past Perfect. I will now start to label everything and find a place to store it. The director was delighted with my working draft of the deeds project. There was a source I found in the SHS archive that she didn’t know was there. She’s impressed by what I found. She wants me to add all the deeds in an appendix. I can do that. Then a little editing and I’ll be done.

Wednesday: Seven hours placing accession numbers on items from the 2016 collection and finding homes for those items. I was sewing the numbers into some hats. I have a few more pieces that need numbers sewn in and then I’m done. We spent about half an hour this morning repositioning the lights in the new exhibit. There is going to be a kind of soft opening Friday evening.

Thursday: Three hours finished sewing the accession numbers onto the last of the textile items. I spent one hour working on my deed project edits and adding images. I spent two hours helping one of the other interns hang some frames for a new information display that she has been working on. It was ridiculously difficult. I truly do not know what the walls are made from but driving nails into them is one of the most frustrating tasks of the summer. One hour sending out a quarterly news letter. Here’s an interesting find. While I was processing one of the collection items I asked the director for some guidance. It was an article in a frame. She pulled the article out and it was sitting in front of a painting. I spent about an hour today trying to track down the artist. I had no luck. An intriguing mystery I hope I have time to solve before I leave.

Friday: We spent the morning and the evening on last minute staging before the new exhibit debuts tonight. The afternoon was spent finishing up the edits on my deeds project. I stayed late tonight to take photos of the opening and help with other small tasks.

Thoughts: The director said the most challenging part of the job, for her, is supervising. She said it’s the one thing that was never covered during her education. Anything that involves people can be difficult. I don’t know that it ever gets easier I think people get better at being supervisors. They develop better communication, training, and interpersonal skills. But it can always remain a challenge even for the most seasoned supervisor. It might be a long time until I supervise people again, my skills might be a little rusty but I’m confident I will be an effective supervisor.

Week Five Ohio Internship

The weeks seem to be passing more quickly. Maybe because I’m more aware that I’m past the halfway point, or maybe because the days are getting noticeably shorter.
Monday: Three hours researching and writing my project. I think I’m ready to turn it in and get some feedback. Four and a half hours in collections, building descriptions of the 2016 collection and labeling the photo files. I think I’ll be able to get all the photos loaded into Past Perfect this week. The director freed some space on the computer.

Tuesday: Four and a half hours collections. Measuring the 2016 collection. Two hours gift shop/ talking with visitors.

Wednesday: Six hours collections. There is a dollhouse that for the last year has been making its way through the accessions process. I think I’m the 3rd intern to work on it. The first one inventoried everything and made some of the cards. The second one made the rest of the cards. I’ve taken all that information, updated the excel spreadsheet and will begin loading everything into Pas Perfect. Nearly 300 items are associated with the doll house. I spent one and a half hours gift shop/talking with visitors.

Thursday: Five and a half hours Collections. I nearly finished putting the dollhouse items into the system. Oh my goodness, I might not finish by Friday. I wanted to move on to adding numbers to the items next week. Noone has put a deadline on the project, but I’d like to have it done by the time I leave. I’m glad the doll house items are too small to write on, I’ll learn how we will take care of that next week. Two hours in the gift/shop. There was a family who had three children. SHS has a bunch of “Shaker” costumes in the area where they store gift shop stock. I grabbed the Dorthy Caapes, and the kids thought that was a lot of fun, for about 30 minutes. There is a “scavenger hunt” handout that they completed and the other full-time employee dug out some prizes for the kids.

Friday: Two and a half hours in the gift shop/talking with visitors. 5 hours collections. I finished all of the collection items; now I just need to get the archive and library items in. That will be my project for next week.

Thoughts: Monday we are de-installing an exhibit and then Tuesday a group is coming in to install a new one. That’s exciting. If I’m ever in charge of a museum, I will never accept a dollhouse. I’ve found the best way to water the garden is barefoot and I love riding the bike every day to and from the museum.

Week Four Ohio Internship

Monday: Short day because everyone had to leave early. I spent one-hour reading local publications for articles on SHS to clip for the archive. One and a half hours researching for my deeds project. I have only one more property to look into and then I’m done with the property research. One hour showing the director what I did while she was gone and getting the rest of the 2016 collection information. Then I spent two hours putting accession numbers on the 2016 & ’17 collection. Writing on items is more difficult than I thought it would be.

Tuesday: Two hours of research and writing. Five and a half hours putting numbers on the 2017 and some of the 2016 collection items and finding the items homes. The director completed my midterm feedback. She is happy with the work that I’ve been doing. I’ve also been given a key to the building and a code to set the alarm. I’ve got the power!

Wednesday: One and a half hours in the gift shop and talking with the visitors. Six hours in collections: I filed all the cards for the 2016 and 2017 collection then I started pulling things out of a kind of cubby whole. The things on top looked like they were for the 2016 collection, but as I pulled more and more out… things got a little out of control. Stacks and stacks of files that need to be indexed and filed in the archives. Getting all that done might be a two-day job in and of itself. I found two times that will help me with my deeds project. Things I would never have found if I hadn’t just kept pulling items out. I put everything on two tables and a chair then asked the director what she wanted me to photograph for the collection and what I should put in the archive. She was surprised by what I had found. Filing is always a nightmare. Nearly every job I ever had in the Air Force came with a massive stack of files that had to be sorted and put away, and people just never made time for it. I think that speaks to the importance of filing. Sometimes we only keep things because there is a law or rules that require it, not because it’s useful. But in an archive it’s difficult to anticipate how someone will use the records and that makes it difficult to know what is important.

Thursday: One hour in the gift shop. Six hours taking photos of the 2016 collection, and editing them.

Friday: One hour compressing the photos to get them ready for Past Perfect. One and a half hours in the gift shop and talking with visitors. Then we had a little party for my birthday and I was sent home early. I spent my time thinking about the kind of minimalist I want to be. I had over 7,000 photos on my laptop. Many of them were from my year in Iraq. Everyone on the team gave me all their photos, and I never edited out the good from the bad. Did I need 100 pics of random people from a luncheon? No. I only kept the best photos that had my team mates in them. That meant hundreds of images of the Iraqi country side ended up in the recycle bin. From my library, I had a lot of duplicates and bad photos… like the back of peoples heads and such. Gone. I now have about 1,600. In a few months I’ll review again and maybe get rid of more. If I do fine and if I don’t that is also fine.

Thoughts: The director is very passionate about SHS. She works a lot of long hours and weekends. In the past, I’ve been like that, but long hours and no rest take a toll. Work/life balance is difficult to achieve and maintain. I hope to one day have a job that I love. But I also want to continue to have my life. It requires constant attention but it can be done.

Week Three Ohio Internship

Monday: 2.5 hours in the SHS Archives looking for a photo. I was hoping that someone had written the names of the people on the back, but no such luck. The remaining 5 hours were spent writing about my findings, researching and writing about the annexation of a local township into Shaker Heights, and talking with the director. She is leaving for a conference and will leave the 2016 collection for me to accession, and there have been a few more donations to the 2017 collection.

Tuesday: 7.5 hours researching and writing. I learned there are still two Shakers alive at the Main settlement.

Wednesday: 4.5 hours collections. Made the description and donor cards, updated the spreadsheet, and measured everything for the written description. I made a spreadsheet for the 2016 collection, then did the same things with the items I was able to find. 2 hours in the gift shop/talking with visitors.

Thursday: 1 hour, SHS Archives. A woman from California called. She is researching a family member who lived with the North Union Shakers for a while. I couldn’t find anything on him (he was too young to be a member on the roll), but I think I found his father. I passed the information on to her. 4.5 hours collections. I set up the photo area, took pictures of the collection items for the 2017 collection and the items I could find for 2016. I then did a little post work on the photos. Then I compressed the files. I think I’m getting a little better at taking photos. 2 hours gift shop/talking with visitors. They like to ask me why I’m so far from home. Home doesn’t feel very far away

Friday: 3.5 hours updating Past Perfect with the 2017 collection and began entering the 2016 collection. 2.5 hours in the gift shop and talking with visitors about the history of Shaker Heights. 1.5 hours reading news papers and magazines for items about SHS for the archives. 

Thoughts:  They desperately need a new computer or a serious hard drive clean up on the Past Perfect computer. The reason I had to stop on Friday was that there is no more space on the hard drive. The director said it’s easier to convince people to donate money for things they can see when they walk into the building, it’s a lot more difficult to get people to donate money for facilities general use. All the day to day, not so sexy, equipment, supplies, manpower, that it takes to make the operation run. 

Week Two Ohio Internship

Monday: 3.5 hours at the county Admin office on deeds research. Then back to SHS 4 hours on collections label training and labeling. The clear barrier paint was all dried up, more had to be ordered. The rest of this project is on hold until the order comes in. But I’m looking forward to getting something completely finished. 

Tuesday: The Fourth of July. Happy Independence Day! I went in for an hour. It was kind of a last minute thing. The SHS has the first fire truck used in Shaker Heights. It’s 100 years old! A neighborhood requested the truck at their 4th of July party. I volunteered to help get the truck to and from the party. Mostly because there was the possibility of free food. Long story short, I saved the director’s life. We did not make it to the party. But I did get a bicycle that I can ride to and from work. 

Wednesday: 7.5 Read the deeds and then scanned them for the museum’s records. A professor from Pennsylvania was in the SHS archive. Part of his research must overlap with mine because when I talked to the director about my day’s discovery she said my evidence placed the RCs two years earlier than the professors. I’m sure he’ll find it too.

Thursday: 4 hours in the SHS archive. I stumbled upon a little gem. In 1999 a woman made a timeline of Shaker Height’s happenings that she thought were interesting. Included with a copy of her timeline was a copy of the Shaker Height’s Protective Association’s booklet from October of 1925. 2.5 hours researching more deeds and looking for evidence of two African American families who are believed to have lived in Shaker Heights in the 1920s. 1 hour in the gift shop.

Friday: 1.5 hours at the Shaker Heights Library for research. The library published a book in 1987 on the history of the city. According to the book, the civil rights era was a time when the city decided to intentionally integrate. They set up a housing office. The staff at the library was very nice and extremely helpful. Their historian was on holiday but the staff was willing and able to help me. There was also a large display in the window to the rare books room. I wasn’t allowed into the room but I could fully view the display. It looked like the displays the students made for History Day. It looked like a winning submission. It was about RCs and segregation in the Lomond neighborhood of Shaker Heights. There certainly seems to be some interest in this part of Shaker Heights History. 5 hours researching newspaper articles and real estate information to find out more about the two families from yesterday. 1 hour in the gift shop. I think I’m getting better at talking to the visitors. I’ve decided the best way to start the conversation is to ask them, “what was your favorite item?” 

Thoughts: Boards can be difficult. Or, at least to me they seem difficult. The SHS has 15 people and they seem to act like 15 individual people rather than a unified body. Not all the time, but on some things. They all have SHS’s best interest at heart. I think I want a board that is united. Sure, the board meetings can and should be passionate and everyone’s voice should be heard, but when the votes are counted, that’s it. Take action and get things done. Maybe that’s naive of me, but what’s life without dreams? 

Week One Ohio Internship

I didn’t realize how much it was going to rain in the Cleveland area. I’m not complaining, it’s just strange. Everyone looks at me and says, “lake effect,” like that really means anything to me. 

Monday: I spent 6.5 hours in the Map Room at the county administration office. I was able to randomly select two properties from each of the nine neighborhoods and started the arduous process of finding the deeds. There were two male employees. One has worked there for more than 20 years and was extremely helpful. He was able to take what I thought I needed and turned it into what I really needed. The other man seems very new. I could hear in his voice how annoyed he was every time someone called and basically did what I did. He’s taking next Monday off, but the nice man will still be there. I left at about 3 pm when my eyes got too tired to read the deeds. I went back to the SHS and spent an hour discussing my day and eating lunch. Then I spent another hour inventorying the 2017 collection.

Tuesday: For about six hours I made accession cards. Rather than having everything logged in a book, Shaker Historical Society uses an old card catalog. I saw the children preparing for the archaeology day camp. At the end of the day, the children came back excited about the day’s finds. I also spent about an hour in the gift shop.

Wednesday: I spent two hours taking photos and observing a class that arrived for a field trip. The director taught a class, lead a guided tour through the house and then out to the dig site. The remaining 5 hours was spent making “donor cards,” and measuring the 2017 collection.

Thursday: I spent 7.5 photographing the 2017 collection, editing the photos, and then updating the spreadsheet that I will use for entering the items into Past Perfect. I thought the backdrop paper was a little thin and kind of strange, but I’ve never done studio photography before and just set up the area with the roll of white paper that was close at hand. It ended up being archival tissue paper. 🙁 Everyone was really nice about it but I feel bad because it’s more expensive than the actual backdrop paper. 

Friday: I got lost on my morning run. I ran the route that I drive to work. On the way back I decided I’d take a turn a bit sooner. I thought the streets are laid out like a grid and I could just zig-zag my way back. Nope. I had to take out my phone and look at the map to figure out where I was and how to get where I needed to be. At work, I spent 7.5 hours entering the 2017 collection into Past Perfect.

Thoughts: SHS uses the card system for tracking their collection items and that seems to serve them well. I’m not sure how long they’ve had Past Perfect, but it looks like the last time anything was entered was 2013. I understand why. The 2017 collection is currently only at 30 items, and it took me 4 days to do what I’ve done, and I still need to get the numbers onto each item. Logging everything going back to 1947 must seem like an impossible task for them. I think this collections project will be done by the middle of next week. That will leave me with just the deeds project. Depending on how well my research goes on Monday, I could be wrapping that up soon too. I will ask if I can help with the 2016 collection. Now that I understand how their process works I might be a bit faster. I want to learn as much as I can and be an asset to this small organization.