Before our first workshop, we decided it was important to do a quick inventory and catch up on exactly what objects were in what boxes or drawers. We also took this as an opportunity to sort through some of the collection, taking boxes that had somewhat random contents and moving some objects to different boxes to have similar objects together.

With only a few tables to spread out on, this proved to be a daunting task. We sorted objects into different piles, but quickly ran out of space for more categories, and tried to put as many objects away as possible to make more room for new sorting piles.

Object locations were entered into the database, and we worked on making an “index” for each box or drawer – a metal ring with an index card for each object. Each index card has a photograph and a brief description. This gives a quick visual reference of what is in a given box or drawer.

Our initial goal was one box/drawer an hour, but this was unrealistic for many of the larger boxes. It was hard for some of us to move quickly through a box once we had unearthed some particularly interesting objects and got caught up looking at the details.  Although “a box an hour” became our mantra, we still didn’t manage to get through all the boxes in one week. That means that our inventory process will be continued now with our more thorough cataloging process, and we’ll just have to sort out similar objects as we go.

This sorting will be on going throughout the semester. As we work more with the collection, hopefully the most logical system for organizing the collection will become apparent. Should objects be stored by period? By occasion? By fiber type? By object type? Once we have better information in the database about exactly what we have, we’ll be in a better position to decide on our ultimate sorting system.