Placement day 7 -reflections and challenges

5 boxes of wedding accessories after storage upgrade

After completing the upgrade or storage for the wedding accessories, I am able to reflect on the process, and address any issues that arose

Difficulties included not having enough physical space to organise items from 3 full drawers into piles. I did not want to put too many items in a single pile due to the fragility of the items. Therefore I organised 2 drawers and packed them into storage boxes before embarking on the 3rd drawer. I was aware that there could be items in the 3rd drawer that had to be stored with items in the boxes I had already packaged up, but decided I would rely on my spreadsheet if this arose.

Once 2 drawers were unpacked on the table, the volume of material was quite significant. I had difficulty remembering each item. For example, I had perhaps around 40 veils, more than half with headdress attached, and most of the headdresses were decorated with orange blossom flowers. When searching for an item with a matching accession number, I resorted to referring to the number on my spreadsheet indicating what time I sorted the item into a pile.

List from Box 1 of upgraded storage items

For example, when searching for item 73: White work, Mrs W Creach, I knew it must have been one of the later things I sorted into a pile (there were just over 100 items in total). Entering the accession number into the search function of Microsoft Word was integral to this process also. When coming across an accession number that ‘felt familiar’, I quickly searched it in the document to determine whether it was part of a group or not.

Sorting items into physical piles was not entirely helpful, as there was not enough space to separate items distinctly enough. My pile of items with the same accession number became multiple piles of items with the same accession number, plural, groups on top of groups. I also had to be careful to put fragile items on top. I had been instructed to unload all 3 drawers before repackaging but I made the decision to leave the 3rd until last, so as to not confuse myself too much.

An image of me putting a heavy wedding mantel into the bottom of a storage box. I was careful to lay the tassels flat to avoid creases, and surround it in tissue paper.

An additional pressure was the time constraints. As the placement is 20 days in duration, I need to maximise my productivity and monopolise on time. However, I was wary of rushing, as I needed to be careful when handling the delicate objects. For future practice, I would allocate additional space and time to these tasks, where possible.

Upon completing the lists and filling 5 boxes of accessories Pauline proceeded to rearrange the store to allocate space for the new boxes. During this process she discovered several more items that needed upgraded storage also. These items were soon added to the appropriate boxes. This reminded me that storage tasks are ongoing. Flexibility is required with a collection that consistently adapts – as new items are added or deaccessioned or moved around.

Time constraints have also been a challenge for the Jewish tailor research. There are hundreds of names to research on the list, sometimes a simple google search will not suffice. In order to complete the work thoroughly and to the best of my ability, sometimes a number of hours can be spent searching a single name. This work has to be done from home, sometimes this is not realistic due to other study and work commitments. I aim to raise the issue with Pauline, to request additional time going through the files whilst on placement. Perhaps more realistic deadlines need to be set. I am also required to combine my research with fellow student who is also on the placement. This means I have to communicate clearly with her. This is achievable but adds further pressure.

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