My internship continues to progress. First up this week was cleaning, as usual. However, after this we had to organize lots of archeology that was just brought into the collection. Since there was not enough room the way the drawers were currently set up, we had to rearrange the cabinets to make room. It appears that half of collections work is simply finding places to put things.
After this, I did research and content development for my exhibit, but I was quickly sidetracked when I started reading about pocket pistols. These were small, rifled, screw-barrel pistols which could be carried concealed in pockets, and were often carried for personal protection while traveling and in cities. This opened up a whole new class of civilian weapons for me to talk about, which can be related directly to the concealed carry of handguns today.
Back to collections work. Valley Forge recently received some new accessions from Hopewell Furnace, and our next job was to put them into the collection. We followed the best practice of putting the accession numbers on using special paint to write the numbers. Typically we would choose the least conspicuous place to write the numbers, but Hopewell had put numbers on previously, so we figured the best place would be right near wherever Hopewell’s numbers were (which were generally inconspicuous). After this, we proceeded to physically re-number a section of archaeology accessions, which had accidentally been given the same numbers as the archaeology we catalogued earlier. Also, I noticed some of the archaeology finds were incorrectly labeled—for example, a spark plug was described as a bolt. I noted this in the paper records so they could be re-labeled in the catalogue. We then put slides which a janitor had saved from the trash back into storage.
Following this I continued my research, focusing on turn-off pistols and the finer distinctions between fowlers, trade fusils, and regular fusils. I realized just how blurry, and perhaps artificial, the lines are between them, and that in my exhibit I will have to find a careful balance for explicit, understandable definitions of slippery subjects.
Thursday was a training day for all the new and seasonal employees and interns in both Valley Forge and Hopewell parks. The parks are administratively connected, although they maintain separate collections, sites, and site staff. So I spent the day learning about the parks, the NPS and NPS operations, and meeting new staff from other departments. It made me realize just how big the NPS is and how varied its responsibilities—not only does Valley Forge need to conserve and interpret the winter encampment, but also manage the ecology and environment, and maintain federal law.