Today, eighty third-graders marched through Locust Grove to learn more about colonial life in Kentucky, and while tours are a huge part of Locust Grove’s identity, we also have many other ongoing projects that serve the mission of preserving, interpreting and sharing the stories of the site and the Clark and Croghan families. Locust Grove’s contract archivist Kaitlyn Markert is currently whipping our archives and collections registration system into shape. Kaitlyn has a BA in History from the University of Kentucky, and recently received her MA from Western Kentucky University in Folk Studies with an emphasis on Historic Preservation. Last summer, she designed an exhibit in the great parlor featuring the portraits of William and Lucy Croghan. She and archaeology intern Samantha Hagan have also been working on taking inventory of the house since August. Today, she gives us a look at her process.
What is your current project?
My current project is the Sam Thomas Collection. Sam Thomas actually lived and worked at Locust Grove during the first restoration in the 1960s and while doing so he gathered an INSANE amount of research not only on George Rogers Clark, but the entire Clark and Croghan family. The Sam Thomas Collection alone will have taken me the entire 8 weeks of this contract. In my previous contract I started the archives by creating a collections policy, archival collection mission statement, arrangement policy and I processed two collections: The Dr. Eugene Conner Collection and The Jefferson County Historic Preservation and Archives Collection.
What does a typical day look like for you?
My typical day is coming in around 9 or 9:30, and I work on processed the archival material for the collection I am working on until noon, and then I work on the Locust Grove Collections Inventory with Samantha Hagan. We have been taking pictures of every artifact in the house, renaming the image files, and uploading the images and updating the information in Past Perfect for the accessions catalog. I have also been working on processing some of the Sam Thomas Collection from home, as it is so large work hours have not been enough to have the collection complete by the end of my 8 week contract for this collection.
What has been the most interesting discovery you’ve made?
I think the most interesting discovery that I have made is finding copies of Dr. John Croghan’s account books. He kept very detailed accounts, and I discovered that his favorite food was oysters! He had oysters almost every day with port wine.
What, if anything, has frustrated you about this project?
During the summer while we were still doing the Cultural Pass, I was giving two tours a day that greatly cut into my processing time, but more than that, the sheer amount of information that Sam Thomas collected was massive, and he would forget what he had copies of and so he had duplicates of a lot of his stuff that I had to get rid of.
What is your favorite item in the collection?
My favorite item in the collection might be the Commissioner’s Sale flyer from 1900 announcing the sale of Locust Grove at Auction that I found.
Why should people care about archives?
It makes available information that is not readily available to the public. It is an entire wealth of information away from the computer screen and Google.
Why would you encourage someone to visit Locust Grove?
I think people should visit HLG because it is a rarity to have such a beautiful home dating to the 18th century. It really gives people a way to travel back in time and to realize that people lived, and thrived before technology changed everything. I also think visiting HLG is important because you get to know one of the most important families in Louisville and how they lived.
I absolutely agree with you there, Kaitlyn! You can follow more of Kaitlyn’s Locust Grove discoveries on Instagram, where she often posts cool artifacts from the collection, like this 18th century sewing kit:
We also have her to thank for the images we used on our last Throwback Thursday! While Kaitlyn says she really enjoys being an archivist, eventually she’d like to become a curator or work in museum administration. Thanks for all of your hard work, Kaitlyn, and best of luck to you in the future!
As for the rest of you classy blog readers, thanks for reading and stay tuned for more fun from Locust Grove!
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3 thoughts on “All in a Day’s Work: Behind the Scenes in the Archives”
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