Yellowstone Heritage and Research Center, Photo: Colleen Curry

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Making a Mannequin

I spent most of today constructing a mannequin for the early ranger uniform that I will be using in the "Creation of the National Park Service" case. The HRC does not have any mannequins, but will be getting some in a few weeks, so this one will be temporary.

I began by attaching a padded coat hanger to a large, torso sized piece of block ethafoam wrapped with batting. I attached them by tying them together with twill tape. Then, I covered the whole thing with muslin, which I pinned into the block ethafoam.

To hold the pants onto the bottom of the ethafoam, I made a makeshift belt out of a strip of muslin. Then, I made "suspenders" out of twill tape to hold the pants up. I rolled pieces of sheet ethafoam and tied them into tubes, which I used to "fill" the legs, and later, the arms. Next, I placed the coat on the hanger and used a little batting to fill the extra space between the jacket and the hanger and block ethafoam. I "filled" the arms the same way I did the legs.

The finished product will hang from a pole across the top of the exhibit case. Making the mannequin was definitely a process of trial and error, and I had to be creative to make it work. In the future, I will certainly appreciate the convenience of using a mannequin!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Label Writing for Creation of NPS Case

Today I concentrated on label writing for the "Creation of the National Park Service" exhibit case. I also picked out a few new objects for that case. Here are some of the objects and labels I worked on today:

Group Label for case:

In the first decade of the twentieth century, internal and external forces pushed Congress to transfer power in Yellowstone from military to civilian administration:

  • Poor discipline and morale among the ranks at Fort Yellowstone
  • Soldiers’ general lack of park knowledge due to frequent transfers
  • Numerous government agencies were responsible for separate areas of park management, which was expensive and unwieldy
  • As WWI approached, it became hard to justify a military presence in the park when soldiers would be needed overseas
  • The problem of poaching was being replaced with the need to guide and police tourists

On August 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the National Park Service Organic Act into law. This began the two-year transfer of power from military to civilian governance under the newly formed National Park Service. The Army and the park service administered Yellowstone together until the last soldiers left in 1918.

Object Labels:

Ranger Boots, Circa 1925
YELL 106496

Revolver, Circa 1915
Smith and Wesson .38 – Special
YELL 134032a

Two Automobiles with Rangers and Visitors, Circa 1920
M.P. Skinner, Photographer
YELL 87186 (Reproduction)

Beginning in 1915, the new popularity of the automobile brought record numbers of visitors into Yellowstone. Updating the park’s infrastructure would be a major challenge during the early years of National Park Service administration.

Vehicle Decal, 1923
YELL 129070 (Reproduction)

Megaphone, Circa 1920
YELL 14124

Early park rangers in Yellowstone used megaphones to speak to large audiences during interpretive programs.

Ranger Petting Deer, Circa 1920
M.P. Skinner, Photographer
YELL 87091-1 (Reproduction)

Stephen Mather, Circa 1920
Photographer Unknown
YELL 7713 (Reproduction)

Working as assistant to the secretary of the interior beginning in 1915, Stephen Mather led a campaign to establish a federal agency to manage all of the national parks. When the National Park Service was established in 1916, Mather became the agency’s first director.

Horace Albright, 1925
Photographer Unknown
YELL 7634 (Reproduction)

As Stephen Mather’s secretary, Horace Albright attended meetings and discussions throughout the summer of 1916 about the National Park Service bill until its enactment in August. Named assistant director when the National Park Service was created, Albright served as acting director when Mather fell ill later that year. In that role, from 1917 to 1919, Albright set up the organizational structure and procedures for the National Park Service and urged Congress to appropriate money to run the new agency. Albright later served as superintendent of Yellowstone National Park (and of Yosemite briefly) from 1919-1929 and as director of the National Park Service from 1929-1933.

Rangers on Horseback, Early 1920’s
Photographer Unknown
YELL 10116 (Reproduction)
“I am convinced that with a properly organized civil guard the administration of this park could be brought to a higher and better standard, in two or three years, than could ever be attained by the successive changes of troops detailed by the roster from the Army... Cost of protection by a civil guard would be less than one-third of the cost by the present method.”
–Superintendent Young, Superintendent’s Annual Report for Yellowstone National Park, 1907

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Label Writing for Poaching Case

This morning, I met with Bob Flather, a retired park ranger and historian who has spent years researching army scouts and snowshoe cabins. He was able to provide me with a lot of useful information and clarify some important details for me. Bob recommend that I concentrate on the difficulty, hardship, and danger of being an army scout.

After meeting with Bob, I concentrated on object labels for the case on poaching and army scouts. I was able to come very close to finishing my labels for that case. The only label I have left to write will summarize the case as a whole. Here are some examples of labels I wrote today:

Skis, Date Unknown
YELL 1956
YELL 1957

Army scouts patrolled Yellowstone’s backcountry on cross country skis, called “snowshoes.”

Mud Volcano Cabin in Winter, 1913
F.J. Haynes, Photographer
Courtesy Haynes Foundation Collection, Montana Historical Society, Helena, MT
YELL 127295 (Reproduction)

Before the first snowshoe cabins were built in 1890, army scouts slept outside with no shelter from the elements. Equipped with stoves and mats for sleeping, the tiny cabins provided limited comfort and protection from the weather. On occasion, unfortunate scouts would arrive, shivering and exhausted, to find their cabin burned by poachers or the roof caved in from the weight of the snow.

Scouts on Patrol Trip to Fall River, 1897
Photographer Unknown
YELL 7147 (Reproduction)

“I never knew until I had seen the Park itself in all its immensity, its impenetrableness, its forbidding and awful regions of forest, precipice and crag, until I had traversed with weary feet some of those endless miles of bottomless snow; until I learned how utterly small, lonely and insignificant a man looks and feels in the midst of solitude so vast, so boundless, so tremendous and so appalling.”

-- Emerson Hough, reporter for Forest and Stream magazine

Capture of Poacher Ed Howell, 1915
Photographer Unknown
YELL 1659 (Reproduction)

“When I saw him he was about 400 yards away from the cover of the timber. I knew I had to cross that open space before I could get him sure. I had no rifle, but only an army revolver, .38 cal. the new model… Howell’s rifle was leaning against a dead buffalo, about fifteen feet away from him… I thought I could maybe get across without Howell seeing or hearing me, for the wind was blowing very hard. So I started over from the cover, going as fast as I could travel. Right square across the way I found a ditch about ten feet wide, and you know how hard it is to make a jump with snowshoes (skis) on level ground. I had to try it, anyhow and somehow I got over. I ran up within fifteen feet of Howell between him and his gun before I called to him to throw up his hands, and that was the first he knew of anyone but him being anywhere in that country.”
--Army Scout Felix Burgess on his capture of poacher Ed Howell

Army Officers with Buffalo Confiscated from Poacher, circa 1900
Photographer Unknown
YELL 7757 (Reproduction)

A cache of eight buffalo heads was discovered by Army scouts at Ed Howell’s campsite just before capturing the notorious poacher.

Camera, 1895
The Blair Camera Co., Model 2367
Used by Army Scout Peter Holt
YELL 7148

“an old camera that I carried for many years in my pack on snowshoe trips…”
--Peter Holt, Letter to Chester Allinson Lindsley, December 1925

I know some of the labels are a little long, but the exhibit is very small so I am hoping people will take the time to read them. The rest of the labels will be very short or "tombstone" labels only to make up for the length of the text in some of these. I think the first person accounts will make the exhibit a lot more engaging, especially Felix Burgess' account of capturing the famous poacher, Ed Howell.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Exhibit Research and Label Writing

Today I continued my exhibit research, concentrating on the "Creation of the National Park Service" case. I identifed the reasons the Army administration of the park prior to 1916 was inadequate and took notes to use later in writing exhibit labels. After researching most of the morning, I was able to begin drafting exhibit labels for that case in the afternoon. Here is what I have so far (that I am satisfied with). It may be a little long, but it is still in draft form:

Unique challenges during military management of Yellowstone made the creation of a civilian administration desirable for park administrators and members of Congress. Poor discipline, lack of park knowledge, and frequent transfers in and out of Yellowstone made soldiers ineffective. Several government agencies – the Army Corps of Engineers, the Secretary of War, and the Department of Interior – were all responsible for separate areas of park management, resulting in expensive and unwieldy park administration. After thirty-two years of military management in Yellowstone, President Woodrow Wilson signed the National Park Service Organic Act into law in August 1916, creating the National Park Service.

I also spent considerable time looking for copies of the original Lacey Act of 1894 and National Park Service Organic Act of 1916 for my cases. The Lacey Act allowed for prosecution of poachers in the park, while the Organic Act created the civilian-run National Park Service. I found related documents, as well as the text of the documents I was looking for, but was unable to find scans of the original documents.

The museum interns met this afternoon to discuss our progress on our cases and to determine where our topics (and objects) overlap. We want to make sure our cases compliment each other and are not overly repetitive.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Object Selection and Scanning

Today I continued working on the new exhibit. I pulled all of the objects that I have chosen so far for the cases. The three dimensional objects I have chosen for the poaching/civilian and army scout case include a bear trap, a small game trap, wooden cross country skiis, a camera used by a scout, a leather bound pamphlet of rules and regulations for Army soldiers and civilian scouts, a rifle confiscated from a poacher, and a pistol found in a cache which likely belonged to a poacher. I have also chosen several photos portraying scouts and the snoeshoe cabins they used in the winter. After pulling the objects from storage, I scanned the photographs so they will be ready to print and mount for the exhibit.

Mud Volcano Snoeshoe Cabin

Dead Buffalo, killed by poachers

Soldiers from the Soda Butte Soldier Station

Army Scouts

I am having a little trouble finding three dimensional objects for the "Creation of the National Park Service" case. So far, all I have an early NPS ranger uniform (including hat, boots, shirt, and pants). I have selected a few photographs for this case as well: portraits of Stephen Mather and Chester Lindsley, who were both very important figures during the transition from Army to civilian control of the park. I still need to select a portrait of Horace Albright, an early superintendent of Yellowstone and later, the director of the National Park Service.

Chester A. Lindsley

Stephen Mather

After scanning the photographs, I made identification, or "tombstone" labels for the objects I have already selected. Then, I went to the library to do some additional research for the exhibit text labels. I found some transcripts of scout diaries and a few articles, and proceeded to read them and some history books for the remainder of the day. At 5:00 pm, my brother (who is visiting) came by for an insider's tour of the collection and storage area. He was really excited to see all the objects and what I have been working on all summer.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Exhibit Work

I worked on the exhibit almost all day today. In the morning, I continued researching for my cases and looked for objects that would be appropriate for the topics I am covering. In the morning, I met with Chris, who I will be working on the "Creation of the National Park Service" case with. Chris is an intern at the archives here at the HRC. We spent about an hour looking for photos and documents in the archives and discussing our game plan for the exhibit. At first, we had different ideas about what the case should cover. Chris wanted to focus on animal management issues because he had uncovered some really great photos and documents from the early years of the National Park Service related to this topic. Some photos even showed President Coolidge feeding bears during a park visit in the late 1920's. I had a different idea of what the case should be about after reading through the book on the history of park management in Yellowstone. We discussed our viewpoints and decided to focus more on the administrative history, especially since another case will likely cover animal and tourist management during the Army years.

After lunch, I met with Maeve, an intern from the library who I will be working on my Army years case with. Maeve and I went into the museum storage area and examined all the objects I had found in ANCS+ that might work in our case. Yesterday, we had thought the case would cover both Army responses to poaching and animal management. Now another group will cover animal management and our case will cover how both the Army and civilian scouts fought poaching in the park. Some of the objects we will be using include skiis (used by Army and civilian scouts to patrol the park in the winter), bear and beaver traps, a gun confiscated from a poacher, a leather book of rules and regulations for army and civilian scouts, and photos of scouts, army officers, and poachers with their kills.

Because the library and archive interns have only a few hours every week to meet with us about the exhibit, today Bridgette gave the museum interns the okay to take the lead on the exhibit cases as we will be working exclusively on the exhibits from here on out. We will be consulting our partners for their opinions about things, to edit labels, and things like that, but we are now able to start making executive decisions and choosing objects to put in the cases and scanning photos for the exhibit. This will definitely allow us to make more progress on the exhibit and I am excited to get to work!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Exhibit Research

This morning I began doing research for the two cases I will be working on for the new exhibit about early park administration in Yellowstone. The two cases I will be responsible for are on the Army years (one of three cases on this topic) and on the creation of the National Park Service. I started by reading a chapter in "Managing the 'Matchless Wonders': A History of Administrative Development in Yellowstone National Park, 1872-1965." From that resource, I learned about the Army years, and the main issues the Army dealt with when they ran the park.

After reading a while, I took a break to rehouse a sign from the previous exhibit, which the other interns deinstalled on Thursday (I had the day off because my brother was visiting). The previous exhibit was about the fires of 1988, which burned one third of Yellowstone National Park. The sign I rehoused was a trail sign that was burned in the fire, but is still readable. I made a box to fit the sign and lined it with ethafoam. I secured the sign in the box with twine tape.

The rehoused sign from the '88 fires

After rehousing the sign, the three museum interns working on Army cases (me, Erica, Jake) had a meeting to determine the topics for the three cases. Since I had just read about that era, I suggested that one of the cases be about poaching and vandalism and another be about army management of tourists and animals. Jake and Erica liked the idea, and we decided that the third case should be about Fort Yellowstone, the army base in Mammoth that remains to this day.

Specifically, I will be working on the Army case about poaching and vandalism in the park. I started looking for objects from the collection that would be appropriate for that case, and came up with a list of objects and photos that might work by searching in ANCS+. I am going to wait to look at the objects until Maeve, the library intern who I will be working on the case with, will be available to look at them with me (she has the day off today).

I spent the remainder of the day reading and continuing my research for my exhibit cases. The exhibit is our priority for the rest of the summer.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Finishing the Black Albums

First thing this morning, I photographed each page of my second black album for the catalog record. After uploading all of the photos onto the computer, I continued cropping and rotating them one by one (between the two albums, about 320 photos). As you will recall from yesterday's post, I also had to save each photo in a high resolution TIFF file and as a much smaller file for the ANCS+ record. I finished that process in the early afternoon.

Photographing one of the black albums

After finishing with the photos, I was finally able to begin my catalog records in ANCS+. I pasted my catalog entry from Microsoft Word into the description field and uploaded photos of each page into the database for each of my two albums. When I finished the catalog records, the only thing left to do was interleave every page in the albums with sheets of acid-free paper. Upon completing this, I put the albums in their boxes and back into storage. The HRC was required to finish cataloging 10 albums by the end of the fiscal year (in September), and we completed 8 of them during these past two weeks. One of the interns will probably be cataloging one more because he will be here a few weeks longer than the rest of us, so the staff is confident (and extatic!) that they will meet their goal.

Interleaving an album with acid-free paper

After finishing the album, I tied up a few loose ends before discussing the exhibit with Bridget and the other museum interns. Now that the albums are completed, we are going to be focusing on the exhibit for the rest of the summer. First we will take down the current exhibit (which they may be doing tomorrow, but I have the day off because my brother is coming for a visit). Then, we will be choosing objects for our new cases (on early park administration), writing labels, etc.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

More Black Album Work

Today I finished cataloging my second black album in Microsoft Word. I completed this work at around 2PM. I wanted to jump right into photographing the album, but some of my coworkers were already using the camera, so I rehoused some glasses until they were done. I photographed all 191 pages of my album, which went pretty quickly despite having to upload photos frequently to make room in the camera's memory card. After, photographing and uploading all the photos, I worked on editing the photos and re-saving them both as TIFF files and as small files to be uploaded into ANCS+ when I make my catalog entry. The TIFF files will be kept in a folder on the shared drive, where people will have access to them in perpetuity (TIFF files do not pixelate over time). Tomorrow I plan to photograph my other album and work on cropping and resaving all my images so that I will be ready to create my catalog records next week.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Another Black Album Day

Today I continued labeling all of the uncataloged photos in my second black album. The labeling is a long and tedious process, which took all day until 3PM. I ended up labeling 502 photos in this album that had not yet been cataloged. When I finished labeling the photos, I began the catalog record in Microsoft Word, just as I did on the last black album. I was pleased to get through about one quarter of the album, and am hopeful that I will complete the catalog record by the end of the day tomorrow.

Here is a sample of what the catalog record looks like in Word. The photo IDs are other numbers used by others (usually the photographer's own cataloging system). As you will see, completing one of these entries for each of 191 pages is also a very long and tedious process. The point of these records is to make these photographs searchable by subject in ANCS+.



EIGHT PHOTOS; YELL 40865; YELL 185320-171; YELL 40871; YELL 185320-172; YELL 185320-173; YELL 185320-174; YELL 40872-1; YELL 40872-2;

PHOTO IDS: 8039-2; 9497; 15106-6; 15174-18; 15174-19; 15174-20; 48-56; 48-57;


DATE: 1929;



EIGHT PHOTOS; YELL 185320-175; YELL 185320-176; YELL 185320-177; YELL 185320-178; YELL 35883; YELL 185320-179; YELL 185320-180; YELL 40874;

PHOTO IDS: 8047-3; 8038-2; 8001-2; 8049-5; 8047-6; 8038-1; 8001-3; 8048-3;


DATE: 1929;

Friday, July 10, 2009

Cataloging All Day

I spent this morning finishing the catalog record for my black album in Microsoft Word. Then, I finally cataloged the blessing wand and an American flag with a picture of a Native American on it that were left as offerings in 2005 at the sight of the 1999 Buffalo Walk. An NPS employee removed the objects from the sight because of concern they might be stolen or tampered with by park guests. After cataloging those objects, I started in on another black album (I still need to photograph every page of the first one, but need help from the other interns who have already done that (apparently it is complicated). So I grabbed another black album (this one is even longer at 191 pages) and started labeling the uncataloged photos. I got about 20pages in before the end of the day, and will continue working on that Monday.

The flag I cataloged and the flag-shaped box I made for it

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Black Album, Tour, and Library Issue

This morning I finished labeling all the photos in my black album with their catalog numbers. After I finished, I was ready to continue writing my catalog record in Microsoft Word. 

A page from my black album

A picture of Fishing Cone from my black album

At 10 AM I took a break from cataloging my album to give my first public tour of the HRC. I was responsible for the museum portion of the tour, which also covers the library and archives. The museum section of the tour starts out with an overview of the collection, what we are working on (cataloging and rehousing) and a quick talk about the dangers to museum collections (light, temperature, humidity)and how the HRC works to prevent them (temperature and humidity controls, and motion sensor lights in storage turn off if no one is in storage). 

After that, I showed the group a few interesting objects and gave them a brief background about them. Because some people on the tour were NPS employees from the GIS lab, I pulled an interesting map to show them. The map showed the park from a non traditional perspective: from north looking south at an angle so as to show terrain. Then, I showed them a drum that I just recently cataloged that was used by Native Americans in 1996 in a ceremony for the reintroduction of the wolves into the park. 

From there, I showed the group the museum's collection of wolf skulls, which are collected by the wolf project. These skulls belong to the first generation of wolves that were introduced to the park, as well as some of their offspring. The museum keeps the wolf skulls in storage and makes them available to researchers from the wolf project whenever asked to do so. 

The final part of the tour, I showed the tour group our collection of 22 original Thomas Moran field sketches made when Moran accompanied the Hayden expedition into Yellowstone territory in 1871. These field sketches were brought to Congress later that year, and helped convince Congress to set Yellowstone aside as the world's first national park.  

The tour went really well - everyone seemed really interested. I am sure my tour experience in the Art and Art History department at UF prepared me for the task. 

After the tour, I went up to the library to discuss a certain movie with the librarians. In the process of researching the blessing wand, I discovered that two documentaries were made about the 1999 Buffalo Walk. Although the tribal participants requested that all cameras be turned off during the flesh offering ceremony, one film crew secretly filmed the event for a major cable documentary (I will not name the movie or channel because I do not want to publicize their video). The Native Americans involved have every right to be upset about this surreptitious filming of their sacred ceremony. Another documentary, called The Buffalo War, was produced by Matthew Testa, who got permission from the participants to recreate the ceremony for the movie. 

I went to talk to the librarians, Jessie and Jackie, to see if there was any way they could remove the offensive movie from the shelves, to make it special request only, to include a disclaimer on the box, or recommend The Buffalo War instead to interested patrons. Jessie and Jackie agreed that something should be done, but hadn't encountered a similar situation. They are now in the process of contacting the University of Montana library to see if they have a precedent that could be followed here. Both movies are currently in VHS in the library, and they thought maybe they should purchase the Testa documentary of DVD so that people would more likely borrow that one. 

After speaking with the librarians, I worked on cataloging my album for the remainder of the day. I got to page 73 out of 131, and I hope to finish that portion of the project tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Black Album Day One

Today I started working on cataloging a black album. For the black albums, we are all creating our catalog record on Microsoft Word, which we will cut and paste into ANCS+ when we are finished. The records are not typical catalog records, because if we included careful details about each photo, we would never finish them. Basically, we are making it possible for people to search ANCS+ for which page to look at to see photos by topic. As I mentioned in Monday’s post, many of the photos are already cataloged. These catalog numbers refer to the negatives rather than the photos themselves. The negatives are considered the objects, because they are the originals. Many of the photos, however, do not have catalog numbers. I am responsible for cataloging these photos. Also, many have other catalog numbers, such as those used by the individual photographers.

Black Album (all 131 pages!)

An example of a page in the album

A volunteer, Bob, spent a great deal of time filling out worksheets that detailed the information about each of the photos in the black albums. The worksheets list the photos on each page of each album, which are cataloged, other catalog numbers used to identify the photos, which photographs do not have assigned catalog numbers, a short description of what each photo portrays, and the dates the photos were taken when known. These sheets are very helpful when typing the information into the word documents that will be come the catalog records.

One of the sheets Bob prepared 

There were lots of sheets to enter into the catalog record!

After a while, I realized it would be helpful to label each of the photos in the album before typing in the catalog record. At the same time as I did this, I updated Bob’s worksheets (he had left the catalog number section blank in those that weren’t cataloged). These worksheets will be kept in folders along with printouts of our catalog records to be used as finding aids for the black books.

Numbered Photo (I used white pencil to make the numbers on the black paper)

Labeling the photos took much longer than I expected and it became a little frustrating. First, I went through the worksheets and labeled each of the blank catalog number areas with catalog numbers in numerical order (YELL 185319-1, YELL 185319-2, etc). A few small errors in the sheets, as well as missing photos in the albums that I had given catalog numbers to on the worksheets resulted in my having to renumber the sheets over and over again before I labeled the photos. It was a very time consuming process and I worked on that up until the end of the workday. I hope to finish labeling the photos and to complete the catalog record in Word tomorrow so that I can begin photographing the pages next week.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Little More Cataloging Before I Start my Black Album

This morning the library, museum, and archive seasonals and interns met with the entire staff about starting work on the exhibit in the lobby of the HRC. Colleen went over the plan and schedule and let us all sign up for cases. The exhibit will be about early exploration in the Yellowstone region and the process though which it became the first national park. I will be working on a case about the years the park was run by the US Army and a case about the creation of Yellowstone Park.

Today I worked primarily on making special boxes to house a pipe and a drum used by Native Americans in ceremonies during the reintroduction of the wolves back in 1996. The men who owned these objects and used them during the wolf reintroduction donated them to the HRC in 2003.

The drum I cataloged in its new box

I finished cataloging the drum, but could not catalog or finish housing the pipe without additional information. There was a large piece of red cloth with pipe and pipe accessories and right now we aren’t sure whether the cloth was used in everyday storage or ceremony or whether it was used to wrap the pipe when it was donated to the museum. The answer to this question will determine whether we keep the cloth and how we house it. For example, there might be a stipulation that the pipe be stored in the cloth. Therefore, I will need to contact the giver in order to continue housing and cataloging the pipe.

I also emailed Katie from the Ethnology department to see if she knew any background information about a blessing wand left during a 2005 offering ceremony at the Roosevelt Arch in which Native Americans commemorated the 1999 Buffalo Walk. Currently, that is all we know about the wand, and we would like to uncover more information before cataloging it so that the catalog record will have background information and give the object context.

We got good news today about the black album project: instead of scanning each page (which takes 20-30 minutes per page), we can photograph each page with our digital camera. One of the interns, Jake, experimented with this today and determined that the resolution will be high enough in photographs. This process should save us a great deal of time. Tomorrow, I hope to start work on my black album.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Black Album Project

This morning until lunch I rehoused several objects. As it turns out, this may be one of the last days I will be rehousing. After lunch, Bridgette showed us our next project - cataloging the "black albums." These large photo albums were likely put together sometime in the 1950's. They hold photos of the park that span the decades. The photos are held in the albums by photo corners, and most photos have short labels and captions glued underneath. The albums are arranged by subject. Topics include rivers, geysers, park employees, and roads. Each of the seasonals and interns will be responsible for cataloging one of these albums, which are about 140 pages each. 

Like many projects here at the HRC, things are not as straightforward as they seem. We have to catalog each photo in our respective albums as part of the larger catalog entry for each album. So, if my album had the overarching catalog number YELL 133867, I would label it YELL 133867-1, and each photo in the album would follow in consecutive order (YELL 133867-2, YELL 133867-3, etc.). However, many of the individual photos within each album have already been catalogued with their own individual catalog numbers. 

Therefore, we are to skip these photos in the numbering process, but still need to include their catalog numbers in ANCS+. We have to go through our album page by page and describe each page in ANCS+. We don't need to go into excruciating detail but do need to say what the page of photos is about, any famous figures in them, how many are on each page, and list the catalog numbers on each page (those already cataloged as well as those we are numbering). 

We also have to interleave each page with acid free paper and scan each page into the computer. We will link these scanned images into the catalog record as smaller files, and also keep a separate folder on the shared drive for the scans from each album. The larger files will be non-compressible to ensure their detail and quality lasts as long as possible. Unfortunately, there is only one scanner that four of us will be sharing for this project. Therefore, we will each have one day a week where we are solely responsible for scanning our albums. Each page takes 20+ minutes to scan, not to mention saving it in ANCS+, changing the orientation to portrait so they will be right side up, and saving them under their new file names. 

Bridgette told us these albums will from here on out be one of our primary focuses, but doesn't expect us to finish them by the end of the summer. She just wants us to get as far into them as possible. Our other focus will be working on a new exhibit for the lobby, which we will find out more about tomorrow. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Inventory and More Cataloging

This morning all the museum technicians and interns went to the Albright Visitor Center in Mammoth to inventory the objects there, which were part of the controlled property inventory list. When we got there, we couldn’t read the catalog numbers on many of the objects. Because the cases there are very difficult to get into and there were a lot of visitors there, we decided to go back to the HRC and print out a list of descriptions for each of the objects on the inventory list so that we wouldn’t get in the way of the visitors there.

With the list of object descriptions in hand, we headed back to the visitor center in Mammoth and easily completed the inventory. Thankfully, the object descriptions were detailed enough that we could identify each object beyond a shadow of a doubt. 

Afterwards, I cataloged a photograph, pamphlet, and a hand-drawn, framed map of the park. The map had a lot of stains on it, which made me thankful for Dixie’s collections management seminar when we completed condition reports, because I had to describe the damage in detail. After the cataloguing, I had about an hour left, which I used to rehouse a couple of plates.