Recording Lighthouse History

by Allison Struck

image1Through my internship at the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum, also known as SAL&MM, I have primarily been working in the Collections Department. Here I work under the direction of Barbara Holland, Collections Manager, and Jason Titcomb, Chief Curator of the Collections Department. This requires me to rotate between the Collections building and working on property at the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum. During this internship, I have been learning how to take inventory, conserve and archive different forms of artifacts within the Collections Department.

My duties include inventorying all of the artifacts within the Collections building, identifying them, so they can be matched with the donation letters to the museum. When doing this, I am to pay attention to accession numbers in order to be able to match these objects with the ones in Past Perfect, an archival program to find objects with ease. These items are from various collections donated or loaned to the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum, ranging from tools for building to clothes left from previous Spars and Coast Guard uniforms. An interesting item I have uncovered is the finding of a snake bite kit within the National Park Service Box of George Fischer, a professor at Florida State, who was a pioneer in the field of American Underwater Archaeology. With this finding, I wrote a post for the St. Augustine Lighthouse blog, which is visible today.

image2-2Also, I am currently reviewing the correspondence between the Superintendent of the 6th district of Lighthouses with the St. Augustine Light station, as well as other directives from the dates of 1910-1935. These letters appear in different forms, such as correspondence, as well as directives of what to do in certain situations. During wartimes, letters would come explaining what to be on the lookout for regarding submarines and unfamiliar ships around the harbors. Analyzing correspondences is interesting, as it shows the history of how the lighthouse grew and changed and when renovations occurred, i.e. the use of kerosene, pathway to the lighthouse, and the transferring of keepers and assistant keepers. With these documents, I am to put them into the system Past Perfect. Here they are archived with notes describing their wear and tear, dates, people, and description of the information presented in each letter, as well as setting key words for others to use to search the system.

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