Since the flood of 2008, the majority of the 16,300 objects in the SMA collection have been stored offsite in Davenport, an hour east of Iowa City, until the new building is complete. Updating the database with object movements for exhibition, inventory, research, and conservation depends on my careful and thorough planning. In my first year, I processed two high volume bequests and coordinated transport for 15 donations and purchases for a total of 534 new accessions. Managing large numbers of objects and ensuring accurate information is in the database through the entire accession process is a demanding but satisfying challenge for me.
At the University of Colorado, I worked on data reconciliation for Native American ethnographic collections. I compared and recorded information dispersed throughout the Museum’s digital network files, as well as in hard-copy catalog cards, ledgers, donor files, object files, tribal consultation files, historic object tags, and publications. I organized all of this data together in the Museum’s digital database, and often had to update the accession records with ownership and provenance data. I was frequently faced with reconciling conflicting information, and made sure to record the facts in an objective way.
At NPS archaeological repositories, I specialized in processing high-volume backlog collections. At Fort Union, the collections had been processed and cataloged with their field numbers, but needed NPS catalog numbers. I focused on completing the chipped stone artifact class, and traveled to the type collection at the North Dakota State Archaeologist office to identify and match raw material types. I also consulted with the on-site historic blacksmith on unidentified metal objects, and researched and acquired historic archaeology references from other fur trade forts to help in object identification.
At Yellowstone, I completed the box inventory of the archaeology collection. Some of the boxes included artifact bags which had been assigned NPS catalog numbers but were never entered into the database, so cataloging and inventorying became a simultaneous process. I consulted with park archaeologists on object identifications, both prehistoric and historic. I reconciled discrepancies between box inventory lists, bag labels, and catalog numbers.
While I was in graduate school, I continued to work at the Office of the State Archaeologist part-time to process uncataloged legacy collections. This took on two forms: collections that were still in original field bags, and collections that had been mixed and sorted for analysis. I rehoused collections in archival storage boxes and bags, and separated collections analyzed by artifact classes back out into their original sites and catalog numbers. I maintained and tracked boxes on temporary staging shelves and work tables for items that were being processed, coded and entered artifact data according to established protocols, and printed and cut final labels.