Brandon Roos

Gettysburg National Military Park Archives

             With the construction of Gettysburg’s new Visitor’s Center, the National Park Service was tasked with moving the one million piece collection out of the old Visitor’s Center and the temporary storage archives located alongside the maintenance facility.  Having completed an internship through the archives last year (see the cyclorama page) they asked if I would be willing to help them with this gargantuan move.

            The collection covers every manner of object from the mass produced bullet to presentation swords spangled in rubies and gold.  There are innumerable guns and projectiles as well as cloth and paper based artifacts.  All of these needed to be prepared and wrapped for the move to the new museum.

            The process of preparing and wrapping all of these artifacts was a daunting one as I had little experience in the field.  However, through this internship I have gained a working understanding of how to care for and maintain a large museum collection.  The process begins with examining the object for visible signs of weakness and wear.  If the object is too worn to be packed alongside others it will have to be had carried during the move so as not to cause more damage.  After examining the object the accession number on the side of the artifact is matched with the Park’s online database.  Then the object is ready for wrapping.  However, there is no standardized way of completing this task so; with each object the proverbial wheel is reinvented. After the object has been wrapped it must be packed either on a cart to be shrink-wrapped or in a box.

            Being able to touch so much history has proved to be an invigorating experience.  Unfortunately, the task was yet incomplete at the close of the semester.  Although it would have been enjoyable to see the project through to the unpacking phase I know that through the work of volunteers and the professional staff that this task will be a smooth one.  Though my work will not be on display for the masses as with the Cyclorama, I still have a strong feeling of accomplishment and pride for my work and for the new archives.