Since my last post in mid-June, I have moved from Wilmington to my hometown of Wilson, North Carolina. I was working part-time in Wilmington as the Archivist at the Bellamy Mansion Museum where I was organizing the museum’s institutional archives and accessioning and cataloging new artifact acquisitions. As much as I loved that work, practical needs had to be considered and I decided to move back home in order to save money while I pursue a full-time job in the museum field.
In the meantime I have begun volunteering at two local museums. The Tobacco Farm Life Museum and the Country Doctor Museum have both been kind enough to allow me to volunteer with their collections until I find a full-time position. The Tobacco Farm Life Museum in Kenly, North Carolina has been an important part of my career already so far, allowing me to intern there two different summers when I was a college student, teaching me the basics of artifact handling and labeling, storage and environmental concerns, and visitor services. Now I am assisting with the research and writing of a grant for a new digital collections and virtual exhibits project the museum wishes to undertake.
The Country Doctor Museum in Bailey, North Carolina has also welcomed me in. There, I am assisting the curator with inventory of the collection, entering items in PastPerfect, and labeling and photographing them. The museum has an interesting collection of medical instruments from the 19th century. (Some of which make me very happy to live in the 21st century.) I am also working on a conservation project. A surrey (like a carriage) that belonged to a rural doctor’s family is in need of some conservation work but the price of a conservator is a bit too much for the museum. I am performing some of the basic tasks of conservation to help preserve this piece of history. Thus far I have (HEPA) vacuumed the surrey. Next up is a careful cleaning of the wood and iron surfaces of the piece. I am following a conservator’s report of the needs of the surrey, only undertaking those tasks that do not require chemical treatments or repairs to delicate materials. Those are tasks better left to a trained conservator.
I am so happy to be doing the work I love – working with history’s tangible remains and helping to preserve them for the future. I can’t wait to see what else I do at these two interesting sites, both working to preserve and educate about the history of this rural area. Support these small museums by checking out their websites or find these sites on Facebook to stay up to date on their events.