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All about archives, accessions, and being a museum curator

Our last profession for you to explore and our third way to investigate history is through the eyes of a museum curator! Who knew you could look at history from so many different perspectives? First, you are an oral historian, who finds out all the flavorful stories that accompany the town’s general history, and you analyze the role of each individual in society. Second, you are an archaeologist who uncovers the material objects from the people of the past and analyzes the broader use of the area and artifacts uncovered. Third, you are a museum curator and archivist who takes all of the information found and donated and ensures that it is preserved, as well as displayed, to continue the efforts of educating the public.

At the Scottsville Museum, we have an unusually young archivist who volunteers her time to ensure that all the items received by the museum are put in their appropriate location and then organized in a database on the computer.

Rachel Aull started her first day at the Scottsville Museum on April 3, 2004. At the young age of 15, she had decided that it was time to stop sitting around and time to start volunteering. So, she opened up the phone book and started calling around. She was considered too young for most of the places around town, but she knew that the Scottsville Museum was always ready to take on a new volunteer, and so Rachel got in touch with the president of the museum to see what she could do for them.

After finding out that Rachel had some great skills with computers and Microsoft software, Brenda set her up with the museum’s web manager and research historian, Connie. Together Connie and Rachel set to work getting the Barclay house—home of the museum archives—organized and available for access by future researchers. They went through everything that was already in the Barclay, catalogued them, and made a database on the computer. They called this database the Accessions Database and built a search engine for it. With this database, someone could pick a topic he or she wanted to research, type it in, and find out what the museum had to offer.

Each week, Rachel and Connie spend time together taking all of the new artifacts and putting them into the database; filing the really interesting ones in special cabinets for researchers to come look at. Whenever an intern comes back with donations from her interviews, Rachel takes them and makes sure they are then accessible to the community. She makes accessions accessible!! (Get it?)

At only 15 years old, Rachel has become a very important part of the Scottsville Museum and its history. She had no idea how interesting history could be until she started working with it hands-on as the archivist. This just goes to show that it is never too early to start enjoying history. And by actually doing history, you may find you like it a whole lot better, just like Rachel did! Are you ready to see what other fun stuff goes along with being a museum curator and archivist? Great! Let’s get started on finding out what primary resources are and how much fun they can be!


How do we know?   Oral History   Archaeology   Archives/Accessions   Teacher/Parent