Transitions, Collections, and Rural History

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.

Me on the porch of the Tobacco Farm Life Museum's historic homestead. I assisted with the cleaning and repainting of one of the rooms following the removal of a bee infestation and related replastering. Summer 2010.
Me on the porch of the Tobacco Farm Life Museum’s historic homestead back in 2010 during my first internship there. I assisted with the cleaning and repainting of one of the rooms following the removal of a bee infestation and related replastering. Summer 2010.
Me with an exhibit on Tobacco Auctioneers that I researched, designed, and installed along with another intern. Summer 2010.
Me with an exhibit on Tobacco Auctioneers that I researched, designed, and installed along with another intern. Summer 2010.

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.

The surrey at the Country Doctor Museum that I am helping to conserve. Photo by author.
The surrey at the Country Doctor Museum that I am helping to conserve. Photo by author.
The Country Doctor Museum's HEPA vacuum I used to vacuum the surfaces of the surrey. HEPA vacuum limit the particles that reenter the air, helping to preserve a clean environment for the artifacts. Use of a soft brush attachment helped to carefully dust the surfaces to remove dust and dirt and protected the surrey from the hard nozzle attachments.
The Country Doctor Museum’s HEPA vacuum I used to vacuum the surfaces of the surrey. HEPA vacuums limit the particles that reenter the air, helping to preserve a clean environment for the artifacts. Use of a soft brush attachment helped to carefully dust the surfaces to remove dust and dirt and protected the surrey from the hard nozzle attachments.

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.

The Tobacco Farm Life Museum: www.tobaccofarmlifemuseum.org; Facebook: Tobacco Farm Life Museum, Inc.

The Country Doctor Museum: www.countrydoctormuseum.org; Facebook: The Country Doctor Museum

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s