It’s been roughly eight weeks since I returned to the L&A County Museum and Archives after an extended maternity leave, and while I’m not a new face around here, thought it useful to highlight how I got here and what I do.
In the second year of my anthropology undergrad, I knew that studying the material culture people left behind was the path for me. My first archaeological dig in Belize as part of my degree sealed my fate as a future archaeologist. It felt like there was nothing more exciting than piecing together the story and context of people from generations ago. That was exciting but the lifestyle of an archaeologist was not, I learned, and it was keeping me up at night. I like slow Saturday mornings and cold drinks on my deck, not watching my footing for venomous snakes and keeping my voice low to avoid stimulating killer bees.
I finished my degree and took three more years meandering around South Korea teaching English, finding myself (mostly through kimchi and Korean barbeque), when it clicked – I can still do what I love without navigating jungle creatures – archival work. Off I went to get my Masters of Library and Information Science at Western University. I started my career at the McMaster University Archives and Special Collections over 10 years ago and haven’t looked back.
Records from the L&A County Museum and Archives collection
I landed at the L&A County Museum and Archives four years ago, and it’s been an absolute privilege working here in both the present and past. My job as an archivist is to ensure longevity and access for the records that laid the foundation of this county. BUT the best part, by far, about this job is learning something new every day from the people that call (and called) L&A home through their stories, photographs and documents. This learning, however, comes at a cost.
There are records here that plague me, and have plagued me for years. For instance, a broadside that plagued me for a long time was sent to us from a man cleaning out his father’s law office in Minnesota. Where did his father get an anonymous broadside from 1828 Napanee to hang in his office? Who are the candidates involved?
Unidentified broadside, 1828, Napanee. Likely this broadside was created leading up to the election of 1828 detailed by Thomas Casey in the Napanee Beaver, 1897. A transcription of Casey’s piece can be found here.
Then there’s the photo of a group of people sitting on a porch, bundled up, obviously welcoming time outside even in the cold. Plus, it seems a bit staged, are they actors? Is this in L&A County?
Unidentified group, winter, . LAHS Photograph Collection, L&A County Museum and Archives
How many lunch hours do I spend walking the streets of Napanee looking at houses for that window style or for the tower reflected in the window before giving up? And albums of unidentified photographs – talk about things that keep an archivist up at night.