As I began week 3 on Wednesday, I finally managed to complete the first box. I managed to put the disorganized documents back to their appropriate dates while recording their contents. I also managed to start the second box, completing the years 1830 and 1831. However, the next year and folder detailing 1832 have proven itself to be the largest folder so far. On Friday, Amanda taught me a new format when it comes to recording the documents. The new format is essentially “last name, first name- subject”. If I was unable to decipher the name of someone then all I had to do was this “_______- subject”. That way if I am unable to fully transcribe the contents of a document then a future reader may be able to do so. Despite this new format, I was unable to finish 1832. It must have been a very busy year for Maxwell as a good number of the documents were either to him or from him. I remembered that in the previous years Bowman mostly received letters and Maxwell probably kept them for safekeeping. Until I remembered it had been three years after Bowman had died, which means that Maxwell was now in charge. This meant he was now more involved in the writing now rather than just answering on behalf of Bowman. One letter I noticed was from someone named Thomas Williamson, and regards Maxwell as a friend. Although, I have not been able to find much information regarding Williamson besides working with Maxwell, it was nice to see a link to Bowmans’ personal and professional life. There was also a letter from Laurence and Martha Good (I am unaware regarding if the two were either married or siblings) that appointed Maxwell as a lawful attorney of petitions. I thought it was interesting to see a document that discussed Maxwell’s progression as a lawyer despite my unfamiliarities with the profession.
As I began my second week on January 29th, I made a promise to myself to complete the first box by the end of the week. On Wednesday, I managed to complete the second folder and managed to get some work done for the third folder going through the years 1820, 1821, and 1822. On Friday, I worked through most of folder three and went through the years 1823-1826. Towards the end of the day, Amanda brought up a new rule for me to follow whenever I finish for the day: I am to save a copy of what I have written in total to a flash drive so that the Historical Society has a second copy of my note-taking. However, I noticed some papers from 1822 and 1826 were not separated from their groups. In order to not lose track of these documents, I placed them in a folder that I simply titled as “Disorganized”. On Saturday, I managed to complete the third folder and the first box. The last three years that I had to move were 1827-1829. Unfortunately, the disorganized documents will have to be completed hopefully by Wednesday. That said I made a promise to complete the three folders by the end of the week, so it is not a total loss in my opinion.
One of the interesting themes revolving around Maxwell was that a lot of the documents he had were financial in context. There were some land deeds, articles of agreements, documents that involved debts from people, ledgers, and bills that I had managed to decipher as much as I could. If I were to make an assumption about what kind of law Maxwell practiced, it would be financial. He was also probably in charge of the finances involving his possible mentor and/or partner, Ebenezer Bowman. Most of the documents are directed towards Bowman, who, I read, was a lawyer at the time and was older than Maxwell, considering the former participated in the Battle of Bunker Hill. So it’s possible Maxwell dealt heavily with Bowman’s finances or those of their firm. To conclude, I managed to finish the three folders of box 1 and have theorized the career of Volney Maxwell.
During the first week of my internship at the Luzerne County Historical Society, I quickly understood what was expected and what my assignment would be. My assignment is to review old documents that belonged to a man named Volney Maxwell. Maxwell was a lawyer and one of the earliest members of the historical society in the 1800s. On Wednesday, and the first day of the internship, I was not fully introduced to the materials I needed to use. Amanda Fontenova, the curator, wasn’t in the office. Instead, I worked with another employee named Mark Riccetti. That day I decided to look up some information regarding Mr. Maxwell. What I learned was that he gave two lectures in 1858, which were published in the society archives. There was also the fact that society’s headquarters used to be his widow’s home. On Friday, I began to work with Amanda. She told me that I needed to look through the upstairs archives and go through folders inside these boxes that contained all documents Maxwell kept over the years. As I sifted through old documents, I did my best to decipher the old fashioned penmanship and type a brief description of what each was about. Most of them were letters from his legal partners like Ebenezer Bowman, who I learned was a veteran who participated in the Battle of Bunker Hill. There were even some letters from two people who were a part of the Continental Congress: Samuel Meredith and Tench Coxe. Meredith was a prominent merchant at the time who later became George Washington’s Secretary of the Treasury, and Coxe was an economist. I ran into some financial statements and land deeds as well. On Friday, I managed to complete the first folder which ranged from 1804-1809. The next day, I began to work on the second folder of the first box. By the time I had left, I only had two remaining years left, 1818 and 1819. During my first week, I learned the ropes of what I am expected to do as well as testing my reading and deciphering skills (paleography), since the writing style of the period made it difficult to figure out the documents.