Historical Society interns work hard on a wide variety of projects. This past spring and summer we’ve had five students dedicating their time and energy to MCHS needs. You might get to hear from them in person in the near future, but in the meantime, let’s take a look at some fruits of their labors.
Josh, an MCPS student (and repeat intern, our favorite kind!) has been transcribing a 19th century diary, written by Caroline Miller Farquhar of Norbeck. Carrie’s diaries have been featured a few times before (and one of the earliest volumes is currently on display in our exhibit on Montgomery County women in the Civil War), but there is still this one last volume to transcribe. Thanks to Josh (and the many other students who have taken their turn with Carrie’s peculiar handwriting), we’re almost there.
Two students from GW’s Museum Studies program chose to fulfil their internship requirement here at MCHS. Maggie has undertaken the task of updating the location inventory for our main storage area; in the process, she’s seen many of our artifacts and, I think, learned some interesting new facts about household management in the 19th century. Here is our brass clock (or spit) jack, a mysterious item which inspired some internet searches. This puppy is worthy of a whole blog post to itself, but for now here’s a quick summary: clock jacks were used to evenly roast meat in a fireplace without too much tending. Once wound up, the clockwork mechanism – shown below – kept the spit (which hung from the bottom) turning. This brass clock jack, circa 1850, was made by George Salter of England and is thought to have been used at the home of Charles England in Potomac. Ours still has its key, but it’s missing the round spit from which the meat hung; here’s a picture of a more complete one, from the collections of the New-York Historical Society.
Maggie’s fellow-student Caitlin cataloged a significant portion of our medical book collection, adding the records to our computer database. One entertaining gem is the 1860 edition of Walker’s Manly Exercises and Rural Sports, published in London and owned by George Minor Anderson of Rockville. You will no doubt be delighted to learn, O manly readers, that this fine volume is available as a free ebook, complete with illustrations (for example, the link here takes you to the section on “vaulting” and “pole leaping” - scroll down to the picture, I implore you). Inspired by the artistic gymnastics portion of the London Olympics? Try it for yourself! (Note: MCHS is not responsible for any injuries incurred during Manly Exercises.)
Becky, a recent graduate of UMBC, interned here during the spring semester and stayed on as a summer office assistant. Her current project will be on view at the County Fair next week, as the “Old Timers” have once again kindly lent us space in their building. Becky surveyed our artifact and library collections for an exhibit on entries at both the past and current incarnations of the Fair. It’s good to have interns – they help you get to the things you haven’t yet gotten to, like taking photos of an 1884 knitted bedspread with crochet-lace border, made by Annie H. Settle of Virginia and entered in the “antiques” category of the Rockville Fair sometime in the early 20th century.
Our fifth intern’s project is not quite ready for the internet yet, but it will be soon! Cathy, a student of the Johns Hopkins online museum studies program – and also a professional videographer – is creating a short promotional video to help MCHS tell the world about all the cool stuff we have and do.
Of course, this only brushes the surface of the many things our interns have done over the past few months. Less ‘exciting’ activities included stocking the shop, scanning photos, cleaning out the Dairy House, labeling newsletters, washing coolers, and dressing a mannequin in a 19th century gown (well, hopefully they thought that was exciting). Museum work, especially in a small institution like ours, requires a certain willingness to do all kinds of boring and/or unexpected tasks. The hard work of our interns (and of all our volunteers) helps keep MCHS running – we couldn’t do it without them!
Carrie Farquhar’s diaries donated by Roger Brooke Farquhar, Jr. The clock jack donated by Warren Conklin. Exercise book donated by the Anderson family. Annie Settle’s bedspread donated by Gladys Benson.