How to catalog a country store with thousands of items?

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    • #131848

      Good morning collectors!

      Middlesex Co. Museum has had a country store on loan for about 30 years and it has recently been gifted to us. This covers 3 walls floor to ceiling, multiple wood and glass cases filled with every kind of item–a 1920-30s Walmart. Some of the larger objects were listed with dimensions by the owner. A few have number tags and correspond to file cards in a box that the owner gave us.

      I volunteer there about 5 hours a week. We have not been able to find interns and I am the sole registrar. How best to accession these thousands of items? An inventory list of items is in process (5 boxes of screws, 10 coffee pots, etc.) Is a video inventory and identification or a photographic record acceptable? My life is not long enough to enter and process these items in accepted Past Perfect protocol.

      I would appreciate your suggestions. Thanks in advance.
      Helen Chandler
      I am at a loss as how to proceed.

    • #131852
      Elizabeth Jablonski

      If building and its contents are insured, you might want to start by asking the insurance company what their requirements are for documentation, as well as disaster preparedness (fire, flood, safety) and appraisal. If an initial capture with sweeping video is acceptable, that might be the way to start. They may also make recommendations on installing flood detectors, smoke alarms, clearly marked exits, etc.

    • #131851

      I like Elizabeth’s idea of contacting the insurance company and a sweeping video to show everything.

      I know a simple, yet long, thing to do would be to place a TRR (Temporary Registration Record) tag with a number for the item/items. I’ve worked at a few places that did that. The TRR can be a simple as “TRR 1223 box containing 50 screws and 20 nails” and then you have an ongoing list of what the TRR numbers indicate.

      In the future, when someone has time, they can actually accession all of the material but it would give you a good idea of how many items are in the collection and the types of artifacts.

    • #131850
      Ron Kley

      I agree with the idea of a video inventory, or its equivalent in overlapping still images, as a quick and easy starting step. If you’ll send me your e-mail address, ( I’ll be happy to send you a published paper on “Production Line Cataloging” which, I think will offer some useful ideas that were, in part, a by-roduct of processing an earth 20th C drugstore collection in western New York.

    • #131849

      Thank you, Ron. The collection IS covered by insurance. We are considering photographing closeups of each shelf plus each section of shelves or cabinets. Please send the paper on ‘Production Line Cataloging”–it’s what we will be doing!

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