-Contributed by Allison Howell.
Allison is a graduate student in Library and Information Science at Kent State University. She is completing her practicum at the CHP, creating descriptive metadata for the Still Images collection. In addition, she is researching, preserving and digitizing an early 1900s scrapbook created by Edgar Doll during his time at the Vineland Training School. Here, she describes her experience working with the Doll scrapbook.
When I was little – and more so now, I have to admit – I wanted to savor Christmas gifts. I always tried to prolong the experience, pushing the opening until the very last moment, allowing the sweet flavor of anticipation to ride as long as it could. (However, after this act once brought my mother to tears, I generally open gifts as soon as she hands them to me nowadays.) This past Christmas, when my husband wanted to have Christmas on December 20th because he couldn’t wait any longer, I dug my heels in and protested that Christmas is held on Christmas for a reason!
Well, today, at CHP, it was Christmas, and I had one glorious box to open.
Like some Christmas gifts, I already had an inkling about what the box contained: Not a popcorn popper or a Settlers of Catan expansion pack (both of which already grace my list for this year), but a scrapbook and other documents pertaining to Edgar A. Doll and the Training School at Vineland in New Jersey.
Some of items I found inside were equivalent to the Christmas sweaters knitted by Grandma: Nice to have (especially for researchers looking for information about Vineland or Doll), but only useful when they fit. (In my case, some items just did not pertain to my specific project, which is perfectly okay. Sometimes that happens.)
One of these items included a set of three steno books, which, when opened, revealed actual shorthand illegible to ex-education majors like me.
Another such item was a large set patient files. Though these records will be helpful to researchers (if and when they are opened to the public), they are much newer than the photos in the scrapbook.
However, some of the items in the box fit perfectly. The book Twenty-Five Years: The Vineland Laboratory 1906 – 1931 (of which there were three copies in the box) may be especially helpful when trying to research scrapbook photos from that period.
Likewise is an envelope of older photos, several captioned with the names of the individuals depicted.
The “gift” that provided the most Christmas merriment, however, was the scrapbook itself. Though it is worn and tattered…
…its pages are filled with photographs and captions…
…that will help me gather information about the scrapbook itself and about the early years of both the research facility at Vineland and Doll’s tenure as Research Psychologist and Director of Research at the school. In this way, I will be able to help transform the book from a volume of anonymous faces into a codex of information available in-house for researchers.
Before that research begins, however, the scrapbook must be preserved in order to protect its fragile contents, and it is this preservation that will be the focus of my next blog entry. Stay posted!