Weekly Update

This week has been slower than the past few because it was Thanksgiving. However, I still got in plenty of hours and thankfully the mix up at the beginning of the semester won’t effect my hours anymore. I’m on track to finish this semester with 135 volunteer hours at the Anthracite Heritage Museum.

I’ve been cataloguing some objects into Argus this week. One collection was a framed lithograph, a photograph, a brass plaque, and then an insurance map. These were all from the Sauquoit Silk Plant in Scranton, PA. When entering these objects into Argus, I first give them an object number. Once they are assigned an object number, I give the object a general description, take note of the condition, then indicate who donated it, and where the object currently is. Giving a description and/or dimensions of objects can sometimes be difficult because I only have pictures to reference. This semester has definitely been different in terms of how we learn and work, but I’m happy to have had the opportunity to volunteer at AHM this semester. Next week is my last week and I will miss the exposure to so many interesting things!

Weekly Update

This week I have been continuing finding keywords among COVID-19 stories from Lackawanna County residents, and I am almost finished with the adult portion of the questionnaires. In addition to the COVID-19 stories, I have also been putting in web descriptions for a large collection at Eckley Miners Village in the Argus database.

In my meeting with John this week we discussed the process that the museum goes through when they receive object donations. When someone wants to donate an object, the museum must decide if it is worth putting in the collection. They must consider if it aligns with their mission statement, if that object would be unique or if they have others that are similar to it, etc. If the museum wants the object, there is a system of checks and balances that the museum must go through. Once this process is completed and the object is approved, the object is assigned an accession number and is entered into the collection.

We also discussed what deaccessioning an artifact is like. Deaccessioning occurs when there is either too many of the same object, if the object poses a threat towards humans, if the object is deteriorating past the point of conservation efforts, or if it is decided that the object no longer aligns with the institution’s mission statement. If the institution decides to deaccession an object, they must contact the donor and let them know, because the museum agreed to care for the object once it was in their possession. Deaccessioning could either lead to the museum donating it to another institution, or, if the object is in bad condition and it is no longer recognizable or functional, it must be destroyed and disposed of. I thought that it was interesting that it needs to be destroyed before being disposed of, but it is to prevent somebody from finding the object and trying to resell it or keep it for personal use.

This semester has gone by so fast but I am very happy that I’ve had the opportunity to volunteer with AHM. I have definitely learned many new things. I still have a couple weeks left with them, so I’m excited to see what else there is to learn!


Weekly Update

For the past week I have been continuing to work on the COVID-19 stories from Lackawanna county. As I mentioned in my last post, this project reminds me a lot of the current project that our public history class has been working on this semester.

For this project, we are looking for community members to contribute to the collection on COVID-19. Contributions such as stories, photos, videos, social media posts, newspaper articles, artwork, and digital/physical objects. These contributions will be put into a collection in the Sister Mary Carmel McGarigle University Archives at Misericordia to document the time that we are living in right now.

As I’ve said in previous posts, it is very important to be documenting our lives at this time. 100 years from now, people will be studying 2020 and will wonder exactly what we did during the pandemic. Did we spend more time with our families? Take up new hobbies? Learn something new? These are the kind of things to consider if you would like to make a contribution.

Personally, once everything shut down in March, I tried learning multiple new hobbies like knitting, sewing, and hand-stitched embroidery. I also took that time to read some new books that I had bought but never had the time to read. While these small events may seem trivial to us now, they will be important to know for those in the future. If you would like to contribute to this collection, go to http://mulocalhistoryprojects.org/pandemic-histories/ for more information!

Weekly Update

While volunteering this week with AHM, I have continued going through the COVID-19 questions & answers for residents in Lackawanna county. As I go through them and determine keywords that appear often, it is clear that many people in Lackawanna county felt similar emotions to one another’s towards the pandemic. Keywords that I’ve been finding are still similar to what I found last week: anxiety, virtual, frustration, etc. Like I said in a previous post, this information is very important to save in a time like this.

This project reminds me of the current project that we are doing in HIS 340: Introduction to Public History. The collecting project that we are doing in HIS 340 focuses on gathering contributions from the Misericordia community so that the university archives can save information about what our community did during the COVID-19 pandemic.

John and I did not have our weekly meeting this week because everything is going smoothly with determining the keywords, so there weren’t many new updates from either of us. Doing this work should take me a couple more weeks to complete, and I’m hoping to get as much done as possible before the semester ends. I’m happy that this project will take a lot of time because of the delay I experienced at the beginning of the semester. I can’t believe that there are only three weeks left of classes already!

Weekly Update

This week I finished catalogue worksheets for a collection at the Anthracite Museum that included items that relate to the current pandemic. For these worksheets, I had to write general descriptions and report the condition of the items. Some of the items included a box of face masks, toilet paper, and bottles of sanitizer. There are important to have in a collection relating to COVID-19 because, at the beginning of the pandemic, it could be difficult to find some of these items in stores. I remember when the pandemic first became serious in the U.S., I could not find toilet paper, hand sanitizer, paper towels, and other items. While it may seem silly to save some of these items, it exhibits the experiences that we went through during this time.

Once I finished the catalogue worksheets, I moved onto a new project. I am currently going through stories/answers from Lackawanna County residents about how this pandemic has affected them. Some of the questions they were asked include: What did you do today? What would you have done today pre-COVID-19? When did you first notice the discussion of COVID-19? What emotions have you experienced during this time? Many of the responses to these questions are similar. Residents have been experiencing many of the same emotions such as anxiety, sadness, and frustration. However, some have also reported that they have been grateful and happy to be able to spend more time with their families.

While going through these answers, I am determining keywords that come up often in the residents’ responses. Some keywords that I have found so far include: virtually, anxiety, walk, family and friends, work, social distancing, and grocery store. These responses were collected throughout April and some during May, so that was right in the middle of when everything was shut down. I think that it would be interesting to see if/how their responses have changed in the past 5-6 months.

Weekly Update

Sara Shields

This week has been good, as I’ve had much more work to do than I have previously. This week I’ve been cataloguing items from two different collections into the state’s online object database, Argus. It consists of assigning the object an object number, stating the source of the object, a brief description, condition report, location of the object, etc. It’s definitely been very useful information to learn.

The objects I’ve been cataloguing are COVID-19 related items from local businesses during the pandemic. Objects include things like masks, hand sanitizer, and signs. Once I finished up on cataloguing these items into Argus, I also wrote up the catalogue worksheets for another collection that has not yet been assigned an accession number in Argus. With these worksheets, it will be easy to put the objects into Argus once these been assigned an accession number because all of the information will be in one location.

I’m excited for this upcoming week because I will be going through local COVID-19 stories and determining key words for each story. It is important to document the state of our current world because in 100 years, people will be studying and reading about 2020 in their history books. Therefore, collecting stories, oral histories, and artifacts right now will help people in the future have a better understanding of what our lives were like this year.


Volunteer Update

Sara Shields

These past couple weeks have been kind of slow with AHM. As I said in my past blog posts, getting my account set up with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (CWOPA) has been a struggle. However, thankfully this week I have successfully been able to have access to my account! This week I went to the museum in order to set up my account, and then I completed multiple web training programs in order to get me prepared to use the state’s online system. Now that I have this account set up, I’ll finally be able to access Argus, which is the database where Pennsylvania Museums catalogue all of their artifacts. I’m very excited to finally be able to do this!

While at the museum this week, I also attended a staff meeting which was conducted over Zoom due to the current pandemic. These staff meetings involve discussing various ways the museum can still reach the public while the doors are closed because of COVID-19, such as online exhibits and lectures.

Overall, I am very excited to get the CWOPA account set up so that I can start working and learning more!

Fall Week 2

This week I have been inventory

Sara Shields

ing different documents, such as maps and pay rate booklets, from the Susquehanna Colliery Company. This has helped me understand the process of cataloguing new materials into collections. Doing this virtually is different than doing this in-person because rather than having all of the documents right in front of me, I have to look at photos. However, it has still definitely been interesting and enlightening.

This week I was also given new material to inventory that has to do with the local community and the COVID-19 pandemic. There are stories and artifacts from community members about their experiences with the pandemic and how it has affected them. This will potentially become part of an online exhibit for the Anthracite Heritage Museum, which I think is a great idea for museums to do in these unprecedented times.

Unfortunately, I still have not been granted access to the state’s database for collections and cataloguing, so I am unable to do everything that John and I hoped I would be doing by now. We hope that by next week I’ll be given my login information so we can get started on other projects.

Fall Week 1

Sara Shields

This week I met with the curator at the Anthracite Heritage Museum. I was given a tour of the museum exhibits that are usually open to the public and then a tour of the archives and library as well. The exhibit was very interesting and offered a lot of information on the history of anthracite in this region. I am from the area, so I actually toured the museum and the coal mine when I was younger; however, it was even better now!

The most exciting thing for me this past week was seeing the archives and collections downstairs. I was shown lease agreements from the early 20th century, which looked a lot different than lease agreements you would see nowadays. They were about the size of a typical pamphlet you would pick up in the doctor’s office, and they included the name and address of the renter. Another interesting thing about these lease agreements is that often people would just get up and leave without giving notice to the owner of the property; as a result, the agreements included a cash amount that they still owed. On the ones that I saw, it was often an amount less than $100.

Due to COVID-19, volunteering at AHM will be different than usual. They are currently closed to the public, but the work does not stop! This week I helped edit an exhibit on beekeeping at Eckley Miner’s Village that will eventually be put online while the museum is still closed. One thing that I learned this week is that even though the doors of the museum may be closed, the work inside does not slow down. While I wish I was volunteering at the physical museum this semester, I am still very excited to be doing the work virtually. I look forward to the rest of the semester!