Monthly Archives: April 2016

The drawer before cataloging

Adopt A Drawer: What is it like to catalog a drawer?

Contributed by Marla Taylor

In fall 2013 the Peabody launched Adopt A Drawer, which connects supporters with our collections. Each gift of $1,000 supports the complete cataloging of one artifact storage drawer. Participants receive an Adopt A Drawer t-shirt, updates on cataloging,  and their support is acknowledged with a name plaque and in our online catalog, PastPerfect.

Cataloging the adopted drawers is a time-consuming but rewarding task. Each drawer is selected with care to identify areas of the collection that need a little extra TLC. Often times, I don’t even know what I am going to find in the drawer!

The drawer that I am currently working on has taken quite some time. There are over 130 artifacts – mostly stone tools – from at least 13 different sites across France. Many of them are from cave sites of the Magdalenian era (10,000 – 17,000 years ago), but some of these blades, scrapers, and cores date as far back as 70,000 years old. Some of these tools could have been crafted by the hands of Neanderthals.

The drawer before cataloging
The drawer before cataloging

When I first began work on the drawer, the tools were piled on top of one another in several smaller boxes. This poor storage can easily lead to damage along the delicately crafted edges of these tools. It was in need of a major upgrade!

With the help of work duty students – I couldn’t do this without them! – each artifact was photographed, measured, and rehoused. I have researched each artifact in our original accession ledgers for location and collection information. These records have then been combined with notes provided by Kathleen Sterling and Sebastien Lacombe of Binghampton University and experts in the lithic technology of France’s Upper Paleolithic who visited the collection in May 2015. I am integrating all of this information into their catalog records and the adoption process is nearly complete.

I will soon share details of the contents of this drawer with its donor and you can access it too by exploring our collection online.

For additional information how to adopt a drawer watch our short video or visit our website.

Invisible Injustice: Discovering & Disseminating the Story of Slavery in the North

Contributed by Lindsay Randall

Logo of conference courtesy of Salem State History Department

Scholars, museum professionals, educators and interested members of the public gathered at Salem State University for a symposium that delved into the history and implications of slavery in New England. Essex Heritage organized this event to be interactive and engaging. In addition to scholars they also invited the participants to explore the topic through breakout sessions and facilitated activities.

Beth Beringer of Essex Heritage invited me to lead one of the activities. During the morning session I lead participants through our History 200 lesson, The Little Spots Allow’d Them.  Participants explored how landscapes can and have shaped human behavior using archaeological data from Isaac Royall’s Ten Hills Farm in Medford, Mass. (now the Royall House and Slave Quarters).

Curator of Education Lindsay Randall leads her break out group through the interactive activity
Curator of Education Lindsay Randall leads her break out group through the interactive activity

The program then shifted to exploration of the difficult discussions that arise when confronting northern slavery. The experts on this panel had a diverse background as historians, professors, and museum professionals. They focused on meaningful strategies that could be used to engage any audience – classroom, museum goers, or the public – in a substantive manner.

Keynote speaker (and ChuBbs Woodrow Randall enthusiast) Dr. Joanne Pope Melish spoke about the often complex relationship that New England had with the institution of slavery. She focused on the impact that this history has had on the region and its legacy today. Melish was also quick to point out that “rich men did not own slaves. Slaves made men rich” and how we need to shift the typical narratives used when engaging with students in any setting.

Two books promoted during the program, Understanding and teaching American Slavery by Bethany Jay and Cythia Lyerly and Disowning Slavery by Joanne Pope Melish

There also was a group of museum educators who talked about their unique ways of engaging the public in the history of slavery in New England. Maryann Zujewski from Salem Maritime National Park has been working with Dr. Bethany Jay of Salem State University to reframe their interpretive tours so that they are not simply ADDING black people to history, but that they and other minorities are becoming more integrated in a meaningful and natural manner.  Olivia Searcy discussed how she has helped to create the educational programming for the Royall House and Slave Quarters Museum in a manner that has focused on the history of the enslaved people at the site. The Caribbean Connections program from the House of the Seven Gables  is a duel language program, described by Ana Nuncio as innovative in its outreach to minority groups in a community which might not otherwise feel welcomed in a museum setting.

At the end of the day participants could self-select into a variety of breakout sessions to dive further into a topic of interest.

This symposium was very important and offered me a great deal of new information and ways of thinking. I am already furiously at work on how to integrate all that I learned into the lessons and activities that I teach. I hope that another symposium of this kind will be offered again and I anxiously await word from my friends at Essex Heritage!

 

An Evening with Pueblo Potters

Please join us for a special evening with award-winning Pueblo potters Dominique Toya, Maxine Toya, Nancy Youngblood, and Joseph Youngblood Lugo.

collage of Pueblo potters, from left to right: Dominique Toya, Nancy Youngblood, pottery firing 2015, and Maxine Toya

Learn about contemporary Pueblo pottery making with these gifted artists while they visit Andover to work with Thayer Zaeder’s studio pottery classes. Dominique and Nancy have collaborated to create pieces that meld their unique approaches to traditional pottery construction, bringing together swirl melon bowls, glistening micaceous slips, carved designs, and blackware firing techniques. Maxine makes delightful figurines that draw on deep Pueblo traditions. Joseph Youngblood Lugo continues the Santa Clara tradition of carved blackware pottery, adding contemporary themes and motifs. These artists are passionate about their work and will share how they have melded traditional and innovative materials and methods to create contemporary works of art.

7-9pm, Wednesday, May 25, 2016
Hors d’oeuvres, beer, and wine
$20.00 per person

Please RSVP – contact Crystal McGuire – Office of Alumni Engagement at cmcguire@andover.edu or 978-749-4282