Week 4 LCHS

This week, I continued filling out the inventory for the Welles Collection at the Luzerne County Historical Society. During that time, I came upon some interesting information about Edward and Stella (Hollenback) Welles’ son, Edward Welles Jr., Edward Welles’ cousin Alexander Baird, and an achievement of Edward Welles. I came across information on Edward Welles Jr. in a document discussing the struggle with his health. Edward Welles Jr. suffered from digestive problems that doctors believed could have been prevented. Throughout Edward Welles Jr.’s first year to adolescence he would refuse to eat healthy and only eat non-nutritive foods. As a result, Edward Welles Jr.  suffered from harsh stomach aches and malnutrition. Edward Welles Jr.’s decisions were influenced by the decisions of his family. His father and his brothers also suffered from stomach disorders that many individuals today recognize as the result of an irregular diet. Most foods the Welles family consumed were made with pork fat, foods with high amounts of starch, and fried foods. However, not all of Edward Welles Jr.’s health problems were due to poor diet decisions; he also suffered from eczema. He suffered with eczema throughout his life because he inherited it from his father.

Another interesting artifact I came across was a group of letters written by Edward Welles’ cousin, Alexander Baird, during the Civil War and a document validating his service in the Confederate army. There is a small folder containing several pages of letters Alexander Baird wrote to his mother during his time at different camps and after battles. For instance, there is a letter Alexander Baird wrote after the aftermath of the Battle of Fredericksburg. Baird states that at least 5000 Union soldiers were captured during the battle and praises General Robert E. Lee for his ability to foil the Union army’s plan of attack. Lastly,  I came across a small pamphlet concerning Edward Welles’ retirement. The pamphlet was created by directors and other officials at the People’s Bank located in Wilkes-Barre, and states that they acknowledge Edward Welles’ retirement, congratulate him, and wish him the best. Next week I will continue to process this collection and hope to discover more interesting things about the Welles.

Week 3 LCHS

Amber Kelley, Anthracite History Museum, 2017This past week at the Luzerne County Historical Society, I worked on inventorying some more objects from the Welles Collection. I came across many nice photographs of individuals who had relations to the Welles or photographs of the Welles. Also, I found something interesting about the way individuals addressed Edward Welles in a letter. The individual who wrote a letter to Edward Welles started with “Bro,…”. I found this interesting because I did not think that individuals at that time used informal language when writing to someone. The Welles family always wrote formally to family members, as well as to acquaintances. The notion of individuals writing only formally at that time is why the informal language in that letter surprised me.

Another interesting object I came across during the week was a small booklet titled “Sayings of Edward Welles Jr.” This booklet held a small collection of things or sayings that Edward Welles Jr. did or said. For instance, there was an instance where Edward Welles Jr.’s grandfather visited them. When the grandfather was leaving, Edward Welles Jr. did not want him to leave, so he tried to take his grandfather’s satchel. Once he attempted to take his grandfather’s satchel, Edward Welles Jr. said “Don’t go Grandpa, I got to stay here, you stay here.” When I read this, I thought what Edward Welles Jr. did and said to his Grandfather was cute. I am not surprised that Edward Welles Jr. did this to his grandfather because I have seen letters he would write to his grandfather at a very young age that he missed him.

During my time inventorying some of the collection, I came across the Wilkes-Barre record of Stella Welles’ death in 1947. The document lays out many activities where Stella Welles was a participant. For instance, she was a part of the YMCA board. I thought it is interesting that she was a board member of the YMCA because of the name Young Men’s Christian Association. I just assumed that the board consisted only of men during the late 1800s to early 1900s.  This is good to know that women could be a part of the YMCA at that time. Anyhow, I enjoyed my week at the Luzerne County Historical Society and I excited to find more intriguing objects from the Welles collection.

Week 2 LCHS

Amber Kelley, Anthracite History Museum, 2017This past week at the Luzerne County Historical Society I continued working on the inventory of the Welles collection donation. Through one of the boxes I came across this week, I found some interesting material related to a flood along the Susquehanna River. The flood occurred in May of 1909 where many locations along the river, including Wilkes-Barre, were flooded. The flood was recorded as minor, but there was a significant amount of damage in the city. Additionally, the death toll of this flood was 11. The Welles Collection held one newspaper article and two small books on the topic, as well as a record of Virginia A. Welles’ experience of the event. It was difficult to uncover her experiences of the event, however, because of the evanescent ink.  The two small books pertaining to the event held many photographs of definitive locations in Wilkes-Barre that were flooded and showcased many damaged objects. Additionally, the photographs show the individuals who were helping rescue others. Finding these objects in the Welles collection reminds me of the Hurricanes that have recently hit the Caribbean Islands, Hurricane Harvey striking Texas and Oklahoma, and Hurricane Irma’s wrath on Florida. My heart goes out to every one affected by the storms who have lost personal belongs, their homes, and or loved ones. I wish the best for them moving forwards having to start at scratch and or any other personal matter.

During my time inventorying the Welles Collection, I came across some objects pertaining to the Battle of Wyoming, also known as the Wyoming Massacre. In the collection, there is a small pamphlet announcing the first commemoration of the Wyoming Massacre. The commemoration of the horrible event in Pennsylvania’s history was through a reenactment of the third day of July, 1778. On that fateful day, approximately 360 people, consisting of men, women, and children, lost their lives. Others that escaped the attack eluded it only to die later on, either from starvation, wounds, or exposure to the environment. Likewise, I came across a book about the event as well. In the book, there is a plethora of interesting information pertaining to the event and a map of the areas American settlers stayed at in present day Wilkes-Barre, Forty Fort, etc.

I am looking forward to continue working on the inventory of the Welles Collection because I’ve found several objects that hold interesting information about Pennsylvania’s history. Not only am I interested in learning more about Pennsylvania’s history through this project, I am excited to find out any information pertaining to the Welles family. At this time, I have not come across anything that has caught my eye, but I hope something will next week.

Week 1 LCHS

Amber Kelley, Anthracite History Museum, 2017It is my first week here at the Luzerne Historical Society. This week the archivist/librarian took me on a tour around the Luzerne Historical Society’s archive/library building. She showed be the numerous areas where there are many shelves of archival material, including objects that either have not been inventoried yet or have but are too large for archival boxes. After that tour, I went over to the society’s museum and one of the full time employees took me on a tour. On the tour, there were numerous areas of objects, such as clothing from numerous decades, antique military helmets, etc. One interesting object I found on the tour was a container that held a hat from the 1920s. The employee informed me that this specific hat had traveled around the world in the 1920s. I thought that was pretty amazing.

During this week, I had the opportunity to help the Luzerne Historical Society put up an exhibit on the Agnus flood of 1972. I helped another employee place some of the framed pictures on the walls. The unveiling of the exhibit to the public was this past Friday, so I came to the event to help them out. It was interesting seeing people from the public come and listening to their memories of the flood. Additionally, the unveiling of the exhibit was featured on Fox News and some of the employees from the Luzerne Historical Society were interviewed. If you are interested in watching that, you can find the video on Fox’s website.

Lastly, my first project is composing an inventory of the Welles collection. The Welles Collection is an assortment of object such as photographs, deeds and other documents, etc. The Welles were a large, wealthy family who resided in Wilkes-Barre, PA. Many of the objects I have come across so far belonged to Edward Welles Sr. who was active in many parts of Wilkes-Barre. For instance, he was the director of the Second National Bank for eight years and then made director of People’s National Bank. Edward Welles Sr. was a part of other companies such as the Hollenback Coal Company as well. I will be working on this project for quite some time during this internship and I am excited to discover more interesting facts about this family.

Week 10 AHM

Amber Kelley, Anthracite History Museum, 2017It is my final week here at the Anthracite Heritage Museum. I have learned a large number of useful skills that I think would benefit any career I choose to pursue after my college career; including archival and curatorial work. In my opinion, the most beneficial learning objective achieved from this internship are the learning skills for curatorial work and experiencing the specific areas of a curator’s job. For instance, not long ago I learned how curators attempt to clean artifacts that had mold on them and or were dusty, along with determining whether a frame was durable enough to still preserve the artifact. Also, I learned the difficult task of mounting photographs and the patience and delicacy required for cutting excess mounting board from the photograph. Furthermore, I learned the basic skill that a curator possesses, which is the process of cataloging artifacts from donations or otherwise bought. I learned that a curator records the unique design on the artifact, all of the engravings and or inscriptions on the artifact, and so on.

My time at the museum was great and I am grateful to have worked alongside the volunteers and staff. They are all wonderful and nice individuals with great personalities. During the majority of my time there, I was working with the curator. I am appreciative of his willingness to assist me in my decision of whether I want to be in the museum field and either becoming an archivist or curator. He is fantastic and took the role of a mentor exceedingly well. Regarding my decision about becoming an archivist, my mind is still set on perusing that career. However, if I would rather not become an archivist, I would choose to become a curator. Overall, I enjoyed my time at the Anthracite Heritage Museum and I do not regret interning there. Hopefully in the near future, I would like to go back and volunteer at the museum, maybe next summer.

Week 9 AHM

Amber Kelley, Anthracite History Museum, 2017This week at the Anthracite Heritage Museum there was some exciting things that occurred. One exciting thing that occurred was putting up the exhibit at Scranton Historical Museum that held photographs of breakers, miners, and immigrants that are important elements of this area’s history. In addition, there are labels placed beside the picture that highlights the information that pertains to the photographs. I am really excited and proud about this exhibit. I am proud of it because I mounted all of those photos and helped the curator out with picking out the labels and mounting them. That is the first exhibit I have ever helped on and it came out great.

Another exciting thing I did this week was assist the curator in cleaning photograph frames of photographs of the Sauquoit Silk buildings. The process is interesting, but requires a lot of patience. The parts of the process are to use a vacuum under a low suction setting and dab the frame lightly with the vacuum. After I cleaned off the frame of one of the donated artifacts, I had to take a photo of it. I had to take a photo of the artifact in order for the curator to send it to the collections committee. The collections committee would look at the artifact, in order to decide whether the artifact is worth keeping in their specific collection or not. If the collection committee did not accept the artifact, the curator would locate a museum or another facility that could take the artifact and preserve it in their collection. Nevertheless, the artifact I photographed would definitely be accepted because of Sauquoit building’s history in Scranton.

Also,  this past week I helped the volunteers at the museum with Library Day. This event is where members of a local library group come to the Anthracite Heritage Museum to take a tour and participate in crafts. This year there was an activity where one could create a pair of mule ears. I assisted another volunteer in the craft section. There was not a large turnout to the event, but the children who came and participated in it had a lot of fun; showcasing their artistic side. Anyhow, next week will be my last week at the museum, so I am eager to see what the final week has in store for me!

Week 8 AHM

Amber Kelley, Anthracite History Museum, 2017Another week has gone by here at the Anthracite Heritage Museum. An interesting part of my week at the museum was researching about the Sauquoit Silk Manufacturing Corporation. I conducted research on the Silk Manufacturing Building because of a donation given to the Museum of pictures of the Building along with other Sauquoit Buildings in Pennsylvania, a picture of the layout of one of the buildings, and a brass sign that displays the name of the company. The curator had me look into the history of the silk mill because it helps provide a reason to why the donated artifacts are important to the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission’s collection (of which the AHM is part). After my research in the museum’s archives and studying the donations, I have discovered that one of Sauquoit Silk Manufacturing Corporation’s buildings was in Scranton and located on 302 Fig Street. The other two buildings in Pennsylvania were located in West Bethlehem and Philadelphia. Additionally, the Sauquoit Silk Manufacturing Building in Scranton was built in 1876, which was the first silk mill factory in Scranton. Since the curator asked that I research mainly about the company’s corporate history, I discovered a few interesting facts. For instance, I found that the president of the company in the 1900s was Alex D. Stelle and before him Lewis R. Stelle, a relative of Alex D. Stelle, was president.

Also, during my research I came across other interesting facts about the company. I found that in the late 1800s to the turn of the 20th century Sauquoit Silk Manufacturing Corporation employed around 600 women; whose age spanned from 12 years old to 25. The wages the women would receive would be between 15 to 25 dollars per month. As the company expanded to having buildings in other locations in Pennsylvania and adding more sections to the building in Scranton, the number of employed women ran up to over 1000 women. Additionally, Sauquoit’s building in Scranton was the largest in the State, having 15 different sections total.

Another interesting part of my week at Anthracite Heritage Museum was helping the museum with ways to connect with the public. As part of the management area of a museum, the management individuals are concerned with getting closer to achieving the mission of the museum they work at. Thus, my boss gave me a job that is part of this process, which was to create a SurveyMonkey account for the museum and research other possible social media outlets the museum could use. After I did my research, I came up with a few ideas on possible social media outlets the museum could use. An idea I thought of is to make Facebook live videos of an event that occurs at the museum or an employee going around the exhibit when there are tours taking place. When I discuss this with my boss, maybe Facebook live videos will occur at the museum in the future. We shall see…

Week 7 AHM

Amber Kelley, Anthracite History Museum, 2017Another week has passed here at the Anthracite Heritage Museum. This past week I have been practicing mounting photographs, in order to get me prepared to mount the photographs for the exhibit. Practice makes perfect! I practiced mounting two photograph on regular paper. The result of both tries were acceptable. Both of the photos once they were mounted had straight edges and did not touch the photos. There is only step of the mounting process I do not like — cutting the mounting board — because it seems that the strength to cut through the mounting board requires a lot more than I thought. So, I have to nail down the right amount of strength it takes to cut the board in order to not make indents into the board making the sides rough rather than smooth. Unfortunately, I was not able to get into any administration or educational projects this week due to the absence of one of my supervisors. So, for this week I was at the museum I worked on my poster project along with mounting photographs.

The progression of my poster project is coming along well. I have looked into three collections that the museum has. One collection named the Della Fabian collection has the most useful information that can assist me in my research. For instance, there are newsletters from the 1960s to the 1990s created by a Lithuanian ethnic organization that established committees across the United States. Hence, there are local ones such as the Anthracite Council, Scranton Council, Pittston Council, and so on. Some information that I found that is useful are the articles on the Soviet Union’s actions towards Catholic priests, parishes, etc. in Lithuania and the organization’s efforts to have American Lithuanian’s write to these people in order to give them strength and support. Along with these collections, I have access to two books written on the difficult time in Lithuania for background information in order to help me connect the dots. In all, I am pleased with the progress I have made thus far and I am excited to present my research in the fall.

Week 6 AHM

Amber Kelley, Anthracite History Museum, 2017Here at the Anthracite Heritage Museum, I am learning an interesting skill this week: mounting photographs for exhibits. The reason why I am doing this is because the curator at the museum is participating in an exhibit that is starting in August and ending in September. The exhibit is to showcase photographs of the DLW Railroads (aka Delaware & Lackawanna Railroad) and miners. Hence, the curator of Anthracite Heritage Museum is choosing photographs of miners working and breakers that the DLW owned. After the photographs were chosen for the exhibit, the curator took me through the process of mounting an image. The process is not simple, but rather tough and requires patience. The procedure is tough because in a few steps you are susceptible to touching glue that can damage objects in the event that one accidentally touched it. Also, the task requires one to cut the edges of the image, so there would not be any part of the mounting board showing. Thus, if one is cutting around the image he or she could unintentionally cut into the image and have to start the whole process over again. In all, the process of mounting an image is not an easy one to execute. After the curator showed me the process, I practiced mounting a regular piece of paper. At first, I was nervous because of the possibility of getting the glue on me that can ruin everything I would touch. However, I mounted the image and avoided getting the glue on me. Next week, I plan on practicing mounting a few images and then mount the chosen images for the exhibit.

At the museum, I will not be doing tours at the moment because there are not many at this time. Hence, I will not be able to strengthen my public speaking skill as much as I would like to. On the other hand, this month I will be changing gears and starting to do projects in the education and administration part of the museum; I am looking forward to that. I cannot wait to see what next week has in store for me!

Week 5 AHM

Amber Kelley, Anthracite History Museum, 2017This past week at the Anthracite Heritage Museum marks my first month working there. Since this past month, I have gained skills, such as public speaking, that are important for future careers and that more importantly have helped me become more confident in myself. There were no tours scheduled for this week, so unfortunately I couldn’t build on that skill. Yet, hopefully next week I will have the opportunity to do that. Another skill I have acquired is composing intriguing posters that can help me later on in my future career. Along with this, I have gained the skills to make gripping press releases to help bring a crowd to an event.

Additionally, this past month I have done curatorial tasks, such as cataloging, that are an important part of a curator’s job. Cataloging is analyzing a particular artifact and writing down its measurements, the materials that compose it, the item’s origins, and so on. The primary part of cataloging is the description of the artifact. In the description, one has to be exceedingly specific. For instance, this past week I cataloged a blanket donated from the family of a deceased doctor from the area. The blanket has a design on the two short sides of it and is not noticeable without taking the time to look keenly at it. Due to the importance of the description element of cataloging, many curators are not excited to sit down for a portion of time to analyze artifacts and then write it down.

Since I have been cataloging for the past month, I have enjoyed analyzing artifacts and cataloging them because in my opinion the objects are an important part of history. The items are important because they showcase a particular time period in which can inform someone a fact about that particular time. For instance, I cataloged a bottle of ether from a donated medical kit used by a doctor. As I cataloged the object, I got a look at the composition of a bottle of ether and how safety measures were handled at that time.  Accordingly because I like to analyze artifacts, catalog them, and would like to take care of them, I think I would enjoy being a curator. On the other hand, I also would like to become an archivist, so we will find out later on whether my mind is set on becoming an archivist or I decide to become a museum curator instead. Stay tuned…