Posts Tagged ‘IMLS’

Fall ADEPT Volunteer Opportunities

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

If you have you ever wanted to…

…Work closely with your community’s history

…Go “behind the scenes” at the Society

…Spend time with a diverse group of fun people

…Learn new computer skills or polish existing ones

…Gain experience with digital cameras and scanners

Then the Andover Data Entry ProjecT can help!

ADEPT is looking for fall volunteers to help us with a variety of activities, including data entry and collections projects.   Flexible scheduling is available.  For more information or to volunteer contact Mark Turdo at 978-475-2236 or at


What Does ADEPT Do?

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

We’re often asked what does ADEPT do. A fair question and one with several answers. So we put together a fact sheet to help explain what we’re doing and where we think we’re headed.

Basically, we are responsible for transferring collections information from paper files to the PastPerfect database, while addressing any relevant curatorial challenges.

To do that we…

  • are a temporary, parallel IMLS grant-funded project
  • are focused solely on the Society’s objects collection
  • realize that our work also affects the work of the rest of the Society
  • are information curators (not object or research curators)
  • balance the quality of each record with the need to finish a quantity of records
  • complete each record to the best of our ability within the confines of the source material(s)
  • work closely with the collections committee and data entry sub-committee to address curatorial questions, challenges, and needs
  • recognize that collections research is a perpetual pursuit and is never complete, and by extension neither is a collections database
  • understand this process is an evolutionary one, which will continue to evolve long after the project’s conclusion
  • understand that the PastPerfect database is not similar to a Google or wiki tool or a Microsoft product and are mindful that the database’s potential end users may be trained users who are very familiar with PastPerfect, experienced users who have worked with PastPerfect before, and inexperienced users who have not worked with PastPerfect

Our goals are…

  • To provide increased & efficient access to the Society’s collection for staff, volunteers, and the Andover community
  • To provide a maximum amount of data through a minimum number of fields
  • To capture collections information that might otherwise be lost
  • To assemble all of the paperwork for each object into a single file while decreasing the Society’s dependence on paper
  • To leave the collections better organized than we found them
  • To protect the collection by reducing the need to handle objects
  • To create a mission-focused collections review and refinement tool
  • To create a data entry manual and a user’s manual for the benefit of future staff and researchers

As you can see the Andover Data Entry ProjecT does much more than data entry.


It’s August 31st!!??

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

There are so many reasons I can’t believe it’s the end of August already. First, summer always passes too quickly and unhappily (for me and every student and teacher I know) September shows up before I know it. Secondly, we have been so busy at ADEPT that these last few weeks have just flown by (which is also why it’s been two months since our last post).

While the time has been fleeting it has not been wasted. We are fortunate to have 13 dedicated volunteers working on ADEPT this summer, making a total of 15 people on the project since we started in January. Together they have updated 3,523 database records and imported 1,190 images into the database. Put another way, 25 years (1985-2010) of the Society’s object collections records are now fully searchable.

Saying that I’m pleased with our progress would be an understatement. We started the project six months late, but thanks to our project staff we have already surpassed our annual goal of 3,000 records in just seven months. I am overwhelmed by and thankful for everyone’s efforts and generosity. Thankfully almost all of them are staying on for a while.

Thanks to them I may even be looking forward to September.


Picture Perfect?

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

Pictures are supposed to be perfect likenesses of something, right?  We think of them as capturing reality, recording moments and objects so we can revisit them later.  Museums take photographs for the same reasons, but we also use them to identify, share, and understand collections objects (particularly how the object may have changed over time).

Recently we were entering collections information for a purse into PastPerfect and found it had three very different photographs.  We thought we’d save space in the database and use the written description to select which photo best represented the object.  The purse is described as “multi-colored, scalloped, fringed, with a silver clasp closure. Chain includes green inserts.”  Each photo shows different details, including

A black and white of the purse and chain which included the associated hand mirror (seen at bottom).

A yellowed photo showing the purse and chain and some fringe that is now lost.

A clear and color correct image which lacks the upper chain and mirror and shows fringe loss.

So which did we choose?

All three. The differences made each one useful.


Summer ADEPT Volunteer Opportunities

Friday, May 21st, 2010

If you have you ever wanted to…

…Work closely with your community’s history

…Go “behind the scenes” at the Society

…Spend time with a diverse group of fun people

…Learn new computer skills or polish existing ones

…Gain experience with digital cameras and scanners

Then the Andover Data Entry ProjecT can help!

ADEPT is looking for summer volunteers to help us with a variety of activities, including data entry and collections projects.   Flexible scheduling is available.  For more information or to volunteer contact Mark Turdo at 978-475-2236 or at


The Times They Are a Changin’

Friday, May 14th, 2010

ADEPT is all about change.  For starters the project staff has begun to change how the Society manages its collections records.  Now the tables are turned and the staff itself is about to change.

We have been fortunate to have three part-timers and two volunteers working on the project.  Unfortunately for us the grant funding for the part-time positions has run its course (for this round) and now Valerie Lavoie, Marilyn Helmers, and Mike Simo are about to about to begin their summer adventures.

Before they go, we thought we’d step back and see what they and the rest of the ADEPT team (including Barbara Hodgemann and Eileen Haley) have accomplished so far.

Since late January the team has:

  • Logged 678 staff hours
  • Completed 1,052 records in PastPerfect
  • Organized and filed almost all of our paper-based collections records
  • Inventoried and organized parts of the physical collection
  • Scanned and uploaded 570 images

And though they may not have realized it, they were also our “guinea pigs,” testing every proposed idea, formula, and procedure.

Valerie, Mike, Barbara, Marilyn, and Eileen are exactly who we needed to help get everything off the ground.  Without them the project would not be as far along, as refined, or as much fun as it is.  And nothing can change that.

Thank you all for everything!


Nerdy Talk or ADEPT Conversation

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

It’s inevitable that we chat while we work.  We always find something we need to share, whether it’s something in the collection, something in the files, or just the fun and frustration of life in general.  One thing leads to another and we wind up talking about it all.

After listening to the rest of us, someone recently mentioned that our conversations are kind of nerdy.  Was this so?  We decided to track them, just to see.

Below is a short list of some our quotes and conversation topics.  It’s a very revealing look at a day in the life of ADEPT.

– Men with long hair save money on haircuts.

– A conversation about the League of Women Voters morphed into a conversation about Constitutional amendments.

– You don’t chat about politics if you grow up in Washington D.C.

– The law schools of New England.

– “This sounds like music from a Valentino film (while listening to the classical music station).

– Year-round grilling.

– After we learned that the MOMA had “acquired” the @, we started talking about the ampersand.

Bacon flavored vodka.

– Witches (the historic ones usually).

Bodices, fichus, and décolletage.

– “You guys are just white noise in the background.”

– “I can only spell with my eyes closed.”

– “My favorite cartoon is ‘Get Fuzzy.’”

Alexander Hamilton – a good or bad Founding Father?

– The death and necessity of newspapers.

Elmore Leanard’s goddaughter.

– “When did she die?”  “Shortly before they buried her.”

– “The world can be divided into two kinds of people – those who do and those who do not like black licorice.”

– Regarding New England spring storms: “all this rain!  Why didn’t they build one less college and pave everything?”

– “How do you spell reticulum?

– “Antimacassars go on the chairs of arms” (written as said).

– Coming from the Boston area, living and working in New York City, and coming back to the Boston area.

– “Is the root of the word ‘history’ Greek or Latin?”

– “Why would you push a dead guy through an airport?!”

– “You’re a font, not an oracle.”

– Historical tattooing practices.

– “Clowns are scary.”

– A radio tax.

Tommy Bahama shirts.

– “So, who got kicked off Dancing With the Stars last night?”

– After taking the Facebook quiz: “Guess which Founding Father I am.”  “Ok…Caesar Rodney?”

– “I share many things, but not strawberries.”

– “The only problem with National Treasure II is the lake under Mt. Rushmore…Come on!  Google maps would’ve seen that!”

– How to start a career as a make-up artist.

– “Nurses are tough to eat with; they’re always trying to gross each other out.”

– “…so I performed CPR on the hamster…”

– “You can’t have 1995, I want 1995!”

– “You’re not going to put that on the blog too, are you?”

I’d like to say these are some of the more amusing or outrageous moments, but they’re not. (of course the same person who called us nerdy just said it’s a shame that some of the more “interesting” conversations won’t make it, and I don’t know what that means!)


Lost in the Shuffle

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

Is the post-it asking where the card or the object should go?  If it’s the card, it should have gone into the appropriate card catalog in numeric order.  If it’s the object, that’s written on the bottom left of the card.  So why the post-it?


You Gotta Know When To Hold ’em, Know When To Fold ’em

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

As our regular reader knows, the Society has long used card catalogs, like the one below, to organize and archive our collections information.

All together the Society has four sets of cards, totaling 22 boxes.  Since we have 15,159 three dimensional objects (many of which have from one to four cards) there are literally thousands of index cards.  We’ve spent the last month and half combining the four sets, culling duplicates, and archiving the remaining cards.  It’s a lot of cards but it’s also a lot of valuable information for the data entry project.

However, not every card has valuable information.  Some left us with more questions than answers (which happens when lots of people work on the same project over a long period of time without a how-to manual) and some have been downright amusing.  Here is an assortment of some of the more interesting cards we found so far:

Who is Jane and what doesn’t she know?


Must have been a shallow bowl.


A nightdress: outerwear or underwear?


A child’s old lady bonnet?


Sometimes the cards aren’t all that helpful.


And sometimes they offer “helpful” advice (we did find the card by the way, and it was more useful than this one).


When did it change from being a portrait, to a painting, and back to a portrait again?


Was it a fresh witch or can you use dried?


There have been days when we knew when to walk away and knew when to run.


A Motley Crew

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

That’s motley crew , not Mötley Crüe.  This would be a very different project if it were the other way around.

ADEPT is extremely fortunate to have a dedicated team who have spent the last two and half months entering data, answering questions, problem solving, reorganizing finding aids, creating and refining new processes, sorting, and filing a seemingly never ending flow of collections paperwork.  Without each and every one of them ADEPT would not be as far along (or as fun) as it is.

We thought we’d take a moment and introduce them to you…

Eileen Boron Haley was born and raised in New Jersey.  She worked for over 20 years as a nurse, specializing in Neonatal Intensive Care Unit nursing.  Eileen is one of the Society’s many dedicated volunteers.  She adores the Andover at Work program and is passionate about playing the role of the Blanchard’s Housekeeper.  When we asked her what she thought about ADEPT, she said, “It is so very exciting about the possibilities of using PastPerfect once all the data has been entered.”  Eileen loves to read the accession cards to see what was donated and how they have been described (for example she found a railroad lantern listed as a “visual communications device” and a set of fireplace tongs listed as a “temperature control device”).

Marilyn Helmers has worked largely in educational institutions in administration, development and student services, and administrative support.  She was also a preschool teacher.  An aspect of almost all of her previous jobs has been taking information from index card records and paper files and entering it into a computer database in a way that makes sense to those who want to use the information.  She has enjoyed learning about the unique items in the Society’s collections and our conversations while we sort file cards!  She said, “It is a long process to assemble and accurately enter the information about all the objects, but we are having fun.”

Marilyn can be heard to say:

“What were they thinking?”

“But I don’t understand how….”

“You have to press edit first.”

“It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.”

Barbara E. Hodgeman is a long time volunteer for the Society’s third grade school program and a Saturday Staff member responsible for house tours and facilitating library research. Her prior professional experience includes securities analyst and employee benefits finance, primarily overseeing investment of pension assets and employee thrift funds.  For her, “The most interesting part of ADEPT is learning about collections work and objects in the AHS collection in particular.  It is fun to see how the pieces of the project fit together on what is such a big project.”  She may spoken for all of us when she said, “This is exciting, but I won’t be sorry when the last card is filed.”

Valerie Lavoie attended University of Massachusetts Lowell from 2003-07 studying history and art history.  She is currently attending Northern Essex and studying history there as well.  This is her first experience working in a museum, but has, “had an immense interest in history for as long as I can remember!”  When we asked her what she enjoyed about the project, she said, “I have to read through each file being entered in the system, so I am always learning something new.  It’s wonderful when I get the chance to go ‘digging’ for an object that I am entering into the database.  I have been able to look at old dresses, and my personal favorites, all the old hats that the ladies used to wear.  Also, just being in such an old house with a rich past is great!  Plus the team that I work with is great; we are always having a fun time.”

Mike Simo is an adjunct history professor (currently teaching at Bunker Hill Community College).  He has a master of arts in history from Wayne State University.  After his time with the project he has now added professional index card shuffler and culler to his resume.   When we asked Mike what most interests him about the project he said, “the personalities, their different backgrounds, and their passion.”

We often hear Mike say:

“Bodiceé” (said with an Italian pronunciation)

“We kept that!  Why?”

“These numbers are all messed up!”

“Oh, for Pete’s sake…”

The Andover Historical Society and ADEPT are fortunate to have this motley crew on our “maiden voyage.”  We would like to thank them for all of their hard work.  They have been a joy to work with (despite the grumbling – you know who you are).