Open Door

Open Door
Indianapolis, Indiana

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Road Trip! - Now What?

I'm sure a lot of you are wondering what the mystery is and why we aren't posting like crazy now that Amanda (me!) is back from North Carolina. First I'm going to talk a bit about my trip and then I'm going to explain where it is taking us.

So, the trip! I got up and headed South going through Louisville, where I made a side tour to get some pictures of the Ouerbacker-Clement House. I posted a couple of them on FB and will post the rest here later. The first night I spent in Chattanooga, TN with good friends that I haven't spent nearly enough time with lately. The next morning, I headed on to Gail's house in North Carolina, which was another three hours away.

The welcome I received was beyond kindness. I was treated like family; the Andersons are some very special people. Gail and I then spent the majority of three days going through photo albums, scrapbooks, genealogy and other records. The scanner that I had brought with me wouldn't work. Gail's scanner stopped working just a few documents into the process as well, so we resorted to photographing everything.

I returned home with over four hundred photos of different items. A desk that belonged to George Terrill (owner of the house from 1920 until his death in 1934 when his wife, Mary Amelia, inherited it). A day diary written by Mary Amelia in 1932. Three scrap books that were created by Norma Terrill (George and Mary Amelia's daughter. The scrapbooks do not cover any period that she lived in the Horner House). A box of Havana newspapers from the early 1920's. (Norma lived in Havana and wrote for the newspaper). And a few miscellaneous original documents that are pertinent to the house.

Mary Amelia's Day Diary

One of the complications is that when I was there, I didn't fully understand the significance of the Terrill family's time in Irvington. They actually owned more property than just the Horner House, including rental property. How much property - we are still in the process of researching. At one time they even rented the "castle house", aka the Eudorus Johnson House, which Bill Gulde posted about here: 

As we started figuring all of this out, it became clear that Gail has more information that is pertinent to Irvington and there are people in Irvington that are interested in these pictures, documents, etc. that I didn't bring back in digital form. And Gail is worried about her collection finding a permanent home. So we are in conversations with her and it looks like she will be giving more of her collection into our care later in the Spring. This is a big responsibility for us, as it entails proper conservation and final distribution of all materials already in our possession and any added to what we already have.

So what does that mean, proper conservation and distribution? First, let me point out some issues. One, if you haven't noticed, I'm a bit OCD. (I never would have looked twice at this wreck of a house, as a serious venture, if I weren't a little crazy! :D) Two, I have a responsibility to Gail to do right by her collection, so we have to look at things like copyright before posting pictures, etc. Three, there's a ton of research here and I already have three researchers stepping on each other. We need a database. Like yesterday. Or I'm going to lose things. We've already managed to misplace part of the copy of the abstract (which did not come from Gail) and we can't be losing things from Gail's collection. (See #2!) Four, we have to be proper stewards of this stuff and make sure it is in good condition if any library or museum is going to take it from us. (Again, see #2!)

All of this adds up to the fact that we haven't hardly touched the collection since I have been home. Mostly it has been talking to people like Bill Gulde of Vintage Irvington and Steve Barnett at the Irvington Historical Society and getting guidance. I have also spoken to the head conservator at the Indiana Historical Society and we are researching databases as the one she recommended is currently cost prohibitive. To give you an idea of the level of research that is going into this, the "Manual for Small Archives" which is recommend reading for those with little or no experience, is 204 pages long. It's no small task.

A pile of archival product catalogs given to Amanda by the head of conservation at the Indiana State Historical Society. Thank you ISHS!!!

Within the next few weeks we will have a database chosen and begin the process of cataloging what we have. That task will not be a small one. It is going to take months, and thousands of dollars, to complete all of this work. In the mean time, we still have a number of legal issues to finalize. No respectable museum or library will touch any part of this collection if we do not protect the intellectual property rights correctly. And we have a responsibility to Gail (see #2!) and the Horner House to protect ourselves as well! 

Does this mean that it will be months before we begin sharing the collection? I sure hope not! And I'm 100% certain that my other researchers would be after me with pitchforks if I make them wait months! Okay, that's probably a bit of an exaggeration, but not much!

To sum it up, we are working on this, as quickly and as thoroughly as possible. So as to bring you the best of the Horner House!