The Farmer’s Letter

Look at these adorable kittens!

Kittens 2kittens 3Kittens 1
Their mother, a feral cat we had seen around the farm for a few weeks, died leaving six little orphans living under the farmhouse porch. We managed to catch all of them, and they are currently being fostered by a volunteer. Three of the kittens already have forever homes lined up. I just had to show them to you guys.

Now, on to internship stuff. At the end of July Dan and I uninstalled our exhibit at the Schaumburg Library.

Uninstalling 2

Dan working on taking down the female clothing.

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Me packing up the apron.

As we come to the last few pieces, a woman approached us and asked where we were taking her doll. It turned out this was the person who donated this beautiful miniature wedding dress and doll to Volkening.  It was a wonderful surprise meeting her. We spent a few minutes chatting with her and hearing about how her mother made this miniature out of pieces of a full sized wedding dress.

Doll Case

The wedding doll is in the upper part of the case.

Returning to Volkening, our boss did not want just to stick our exhibit labels in a drawer to never to be looked at again. Instead, we used them to breath new life into the wedding dress doll’s display case. Where before it had a single sheet of printer paper with a paragraph of information, now there are legitimate exhibit labels.

Since then I’ve noticed a lot more people stopping at this case and talking about the dolls. But I have no solid numbers to back up my observation. In retrospect, I would have like to have compiled data on how many visitors stopped at this case and for what length of time before and after adding the exhibit labels.

My main focus, the deaccessioning project, is on hold for a few days while a committee is selected to review the objects that are on the metaphorical chopping block. They will also be reviewing the data content standards for Past Perfect I created.

Collections Management is a world of no pity.

Over the years, information has been entered into the Past Perfect system inconsistently and in different formats. After discussing this with my boss, she gave me the green light to standardize everything. And, as collections projects always go, the more progress I make, the more I find to do.

Is the fact that the more I have to do, the happier I am a problem?

Given that there is a lot of be done and not a lot of time to do it, I decided that the first logical step would be to confirm and update the locations of all the objects in the main storage room. I had been working for several days at a steady pace, when I came across a letter that began with this:

Farmer's Letter

While no one was there to take a picture of my facial expression when I saw this, I imagine it was probably something like:

This letter was written in 1934 by a German farmer to his relatives here in the United States. He describes the harvest and a family wedding he had recently attended. He also tells of a new leader in Germany, a man named Hitler who seems “down to earth” and asserts that if the communists had gotten into power “we would be much worse off.”

This letter is a perfect example of something we discussed a lot in Dr. Barnhart’s Research Methods in American Local History class. That history is not limited to old, rich, white men, with status and power. The author is an average person, with typical concerns and relying information that is important personally to him, the price of his crops and a family wedding. Not a politician or military leader or wealthy by any means, he gives us insight into how a typical German’s viewed Hitler in the 1930s. This is vernacular history. And it begs so many questions, what was the author’s political alliance? What were his thoughts on the Nazi policies and laws that began taking effect in Germany? What happened to his family during the war? Did his thoughts about Hitler change as the war raged in Europe?

As I thought about this letter, it occurred to me that in 100 years some 20 something up coming museum professional may come across emails I’ve written, Facebook posts and message, etc. What will they glean about 21st Century life from those things?

This blog is getting a little long so I will end it here. I’m hoping to start digitizing the collection soon. Stay tuned for updates. I will leave you with this quote.

To study history means submitting to chaos and nevertheless retaining faith in order and meaning.”-Hermann Hesse

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