There is nothing better than discovering–or rediscovering–something neat in your collection. This could be something that you didn’t know existed, something that had been misplaced, or maybe something that was properly documented but you just didn’t know you had it (especially if you’re new on staff and still getting to know the collection.)
I recently “discovered” a very neat collection of photographs and papers that are part of the Blank Family Collection at the Iowa Jewish Historical Society. The Blanks are a prominent family here in town; A. H. Blank was an important member of the movie industry and the Blank family has been very generous to many organizations in the Des Moines metro area. Apparently, A. H. Blank was the man who made popcorn the must-have movie snack. Right here in Iowa!
Now, I should clarify that the Blank Family Collection was not missing–instead, as I mentioned, I just didn’t know where to look! As a new employee, I’m still trying to figure out what is where…and what is in the computer vs. what still needs cataloging. Anyhow, I had already located half of the collection, but couldn’t seem to match any of the items with the 297 items that were already cataloged in our PastPerfect Museum Software. After locating the “missing” items, I realized that only half of the collection was cataloged and entered into the system.
The collection documents the life of A. H. Blank and family and includes photographs, letters, scrapbooks and lots of newspaper clippings about the family and their activities. We recently received a generous grant from the Blank family to catalog and digitize the collection, and I am thrilled to be able to work on this project.
For information about grant–and to read a short article introducing me as the IJHS Collections Manager, see page 14 of the January 2011 issue of the Des Moines Jewish Press (it’s a .pdf.)