Posts Tagged ‘IMLS’

You Gotta Have Standards

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

ADEPT has started revising our handbook again. The handbook sets our data entry standards which helps everyone put the same information into the database the same way (so we can find it again later). It also helps us avoid this:


We’re Done! For Now.

Friday, July 15th, 2011

ADEPT has finally finished inventorying all of the collections in the Blanchard House Museum!

Although we hosted a couple of inventory work days in February and March, there were still a few spaces that needed to be done. The ADEPT staff took a week off from their regular data entry duties and plowed through these remaining spaces. They’ve even got most of the 1,500 or so object locations entered in the database already. Now we know where almost everything in the Blanchard House is.

Inventorying any museum collection is like putting it under a microscope. You find lots of little irregularities, redundancies, and mistakes. It happens. Especially at a museum that’s been collecting for one hundred years, like the AHS. Staff, procedures, and record keeping change over time and collections items can get lost in the shuffle.

For the most part, we found what we expected to find: multiple objects sharing the same tracking number (in the museum biz we call those object identification numbers; often shortened to object ID number), items that don’t have object ID numbers on them which should, and objects which have been formally deaccessioned but are still stored on our shelves. There are also lots of little (unless you’re the one doing them and then they’re big) issues to resolve, like is that number a 3 or a 5? Can you even read these numbers? or, my personal favorite, why is this number on the object but not in the register? Fortunately, we’ve solved most of these problems.

There were a couple of things we found which we didn’t expect.

The AHS has a Polaroid “OneStep” instant camera in the collection which was accessioned in 2007.

When we had it out to inventory, we opened the lid (exposing the lens and flash) when we noticed the red power light came on. Out of curiosity we pushed the shutter and wham! Out comes this photograph:

The film was old, having been in the camera since at least 2007, and the photo took a while to develop. Turns out in these Polaroids the film cartridge contains the battery. We removed the cartridge because it’s not good for the camera to leave the batteries in for so long.

That wasn’t even the most inexplicable thing we found. We also found a magic lantern that had a bit of a numbering problem, as you can see:

The magic lanter came in two parts: the body (which contained the light source) and the removable lens.

The body was numbered 1941.35.1a, which meant there was a second part, numbered b.

Naturally, we thought the lens, as the second piece, would be marked with the b number. But the only number we could find was this cryptic 19 or 61 in white ink.

We put the two together and it hit us...

...somehow they had put the b number on the lens while it was attached to the body. It had the right number on it, just not all of it.

Now that we’re done with the house, we’re going to start the barn, where all the farm and industrial collections are.


Found It! Findings Update

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

Since our first inventory day on February 26th, we held another inventory day on March 26th and continued inventorying smaller spaces within the museum. Thanks to our dedicated and diligent volunteers we have…

…Hosted over 40 inventory volunteers

…A total volunteer time of over 350 hours (almost the equivalent of nine 40-hour weeks for one person)

…Completed almost 450 inventory sheets

…Inventoried and entered over 7,000 items (the database is now accurate for all 7,000 locations)

And we are continuing to inventory the house (in fact there is someone up there right now working on more shelves). We hope to finish the Blanchard House collection soon. And then we can turn our attention to the Blanchard Barn collection.


Found It! Findings

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

Inventorying a museum collection is a basic task for any museum. Inventories allow you to identify and record the precise location of each item in the collection. In the Andover Historical Society’s case, we record our collection locations in the PastPerfect database so researchers can easily find stuff (a professional term) they are interested in. It’s an important responsibility, but it’s also a time consuming one. It helps to have a large staff to inventory everything. Especially when you have over 40,000 items in the collection like we do.

The Historical Society was fortunate to have a large volunteer staff willing to inventory the Blanchard House collection. We hosted two “Found It!” inventory days, one on February 26th and the next on March 26th. Both days were wonderfully successful.

We invited anyone interested in helping out to participate. Some people made it a family affair bringing their spouses, parents, and kids to help.

Everyone worked in pairs: one person handled an object, described it, and read off its identification number, while the other person recorded everything on the inventory sheet.

We inventoried collections from the basement... the third floor and everywhere in between.

We are far from finished inventorying everything in the collection, but so far we have:

Hosted 33 interns and volunteers

Put in over 200 inventory hours

Completed 215 inventory sheets

Inventoried over 5,000 objects

Thanks again to all of our fantastic interns and volunteers. We couldn’t have done it without you!


A Vamp With Sole

Friday, April 1st, 2011

The L-O-N-G sigh. That’s when you know a member of the ADEPT team has found something complex, frustrating, or foreign. Recently the sigh slipped out because of a word.

We were entering the information for a pair of shoes, which were described as a “pair of women’s shoes with thin leather sole and satin-covered heel. White satin slipper upper, bound edging. White silk and net rosette on vamp….”

It was the word vamp. Looking at the paperwork didn’t help. Nor did looking at the photograph of the shoes.

So we consulted the Oxford English Dictionary (or the really BIG book of words).  It stated that vamp was, “the part of a boot or shoe covering the front of the foot.”  In the United States it specifically means “that part between the sole and the top in front of the ankle-seams.” In other words the vamp covers the instep.

We dug a little further and found the entry for vamp from the Footwear of the Middle Ages webpage:

Vamp (Vampethe, Vampet , Vawmpe, Vampey, Avant pied, Forefoot, Pedana, Pedula)

  1. The front section of a shoe’s upper covering the wearer’s toes and part of the instep. The earliest use of this term, in a shoemaking context, in English was at least by 1654 [OED 2d Ed.]. It likely derives from an older term “vampey” (c15th C), and from that “Vaumpe”/”Waumpe”, from the Anglo-Norman “avanpie” (or “avant-pied” – “before the foot”) and refers to the portion of the footed hose that covers the foot from the instep and ankle forward. If there was another term used for the vamp of a shoe before 1654, I do not as yet know what that is — however see Forefoot (q.v.)
  2. If the upper does not have a separate Vamp and Quarters, the front of the upper can be referred to as the “Vamp portion” rather than the vamp. Do NOT use “Forepart” as this refers to the sole, not the upper. [Saguto]
  3. For one piece uppers, use Forepart [Thornton/Swann, 1983]
  4. The part of the tipper covering the fore part of the foot up to the instep. [Goubitz, 2001]
  5. The Vamp “is all the piece that covers the top of the foot instep, the top of the shoe at the tying place toe and toe lining, the lower part of the vamp [Holme, 1688]
  6. The front of the shoe, consisting of one piece (in the slip-on) or several (toe cap, vamp insertion). Its shape depends on the shoe style. [Vass]

The things we learn…


And Now, For One Day Only…

Monday, February 14th, 2011


at the

Andover Historical Society

February 26, 2011

We are looking for volunteers to inventory the Blanchard House Museum collection.

The day will consist of handling collections objects and recording their name, object number, and location. Ultimately, all of this information is going into the PastPerfect database so we will know where everything in the collection really is.

We have three shifts throughout the day.

9 am – 12 pm

12 pm – 1 pm (lunch provided by AHS)

1 pm – 4 pm

4 pm – 7 pm (light snack and refreshments provided by AHS)

Any time you can give would be invaluable.

Please mention this to friends and family.

The more the merrier (and the faster we will finish).

To sign up or for more information

contact Mark at 978-475-2236 or


Displaying Our Exhibits

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

Exhibitions don’t seem like they would be part of ADEPT’s work, but they are. At least filling in the exhibits screen on PastPerfect is. This screen includes the exhibit’s name, when it ran, who curated it, and which collections items were displayed, among others.

When we started entering the exhibitions data there were only 16 exhibits listed in the database.

And when we were finished there were 153 exhibits listed.

Currently we’ve entered all of the known exhibit names and dates. Soon we’ll be entering all of the exhibited items.

You may be asking yourself, “Why is this important? Who cares about old exhibits?” Well… all collections information is important (to somebody), but by expanding our exhibits information within the database we have an answer when a visitor asks if we recall displaying something years ago. And really, that’s what a database does best: provide answers.


We Really Do…

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

The Andover Data Entry ProjecT has two volunteer collections opportunities available, including:

Data Entry Volunteer: Help make our collection more accessible by entering collections information into the database

Collections Inventory Volunteer: Help make our database more accurate by finding and recording the location of each item in the Blanchard House.

Don’t worry if you’ve never done anything like this before. Our friendly staff member will help you as you learn how to use the database, handle historical objects, and put everything back where it belongs (or at least, where you found it).

Help us leave the Society a little better than we found it!

For more information please contact

Mark A. Turdo, Project Manager



I still can’t believe it’s time for – ADEPT 2010: Year in Review or Where Are They Now?

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

This year we have successfully:

  1. Hired and trained 16 fantastic interns and volunteers who have put in almost 2,000 hours since the end of January 2010 (which equals one full time staff person)
  2. Continued to work with the collections volunteers and the Collections Committee to resolve any curatorial issues
  3. Written a data entry handbook
  4. Entered all of the object collections records from 2000 through 1981 amounting to approximately 5,000 records, which means we’re already half way to our data entry goal in less then a year
  5. Scanned & imported 2,200 digital images of collections items
  6. Sorted, organized, and re-filed all four sets of collections index cards
  7. Reorganized the Cheever Room to include space for collections volunteers as well as ADEPT staff
  8. Collected and sorted past curatorial files and are now reorganizing them
  9. Standardized storage location names and created an associated map
  10. Began assembling a list of all previous collections staff and volunteers
  11. Begun planning for a 2011 inventory of the object collections in the House and Archives
  12. Advertised and started to hire new interns

Along the way we have accomplished many smaller, but important projects. All of which helps us achieve our goal to leave the collections and the database better than we found it.

Looking over everything, I have to say I am incredibly proud of the work we have done this year. All of it is due to our dedicated staff of interns and volunteers. Not only are they diligent, they are an absolute joy to work with. I look forward to seeing where they take us in 2011.


We’re Working On It

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

While ADEPT didn’t started until this year, the Andover Historical Society has been computerizing collections information for more then two decades.

It all started in the summer of 1987 when the staff asked for a computer to help store and search collections information, among many other tasks. They were quick to point out that a database can store and search information better than a paper-based system. Plus, they said, it would save hours of staff and volunteer time. The computer they wanted was estimated to cost between $3,5000 and $5,500, which may explain why it was another year before we acquired our first computer. Heralded as allowing the Society “to become part of the computer age” we got a MacIntosh SE computer and the Filemaker Pro database software sometime in late 1988.

By 1999 the Filemaker Pro database was full and was replaced in 2000 with PastPerfect. In 2008 the Society announced that the entire collections register (the list of each object and its identification number) had been entered into the system. This work, which took 8 years, more than a dozen volunteers, and an estimated 15,000 hours of effort, laid the groundwork for ADEPT.

Thanks to the hard work of so many people we are able to our work so much more efficiently. Which means we should be done in a little less then 23 years from now.