Historical Society gets expert advice for collection

The volunteers and staff who look after the Rappahannock Historical Society’s collection of artifacts, photos and documents will be getting some free expert advice.

Rappahannock News Staff Photo/Roger Piantadosi
A wooden puttle -– used for making beaten biscuits -– shares a display case with a salt cellar, creamer and whiskey glasses from the Ricketts Hotel, a late 19th- and early 20th-century fixture in Flint Hill.

The advice is part of a statewide project, funded by a grant by the Institute of Museum of Library Services, to help improve the care of collections held by small museums, libraries and archives.

The historical society was one of 10 Virginia institutions selected to participate in the program.

The “Connecting to Collections” team of museum and library professionals already have visited the society’s museum on Gay Street in Washington to tour the collection, which includes:

  • Farming implements used in Rappahannock County, including sheep shears, an oxen yoke and a large carder for combing wool;
  • Medical instruments used by Dr. Thomas Amiss and Dr. William J. Smith;
  • Glassware and other kitchen items from the Ricketts Hotel, a 19th- and early 20-century hotel and boarding house in Flint Hill.

The historical society was chosen to participate in the program by the Virginia Association of Museums, the Library of Virginia and the state Department of Historic Resources. The program team’s written report, with its recommendations for looking after the collection, is due sometime this month.

“These people were absolutely delightful to talk to,” said society executive director Judy Tole. “Their recommendations were full of common sense and helpful information.”

Another benefit, Tole said, was that the collection assessment team essentially made a house call. Unlike other workshops or educational programs, she said, no travel expenses were incurred by the museum which operates on donations and volunteered time –- including that of board members Jean Morris and Bob Massie specifically devoted to keeping up with the museum’s collection. And the advice was specifically tailored to what the museum holds.

For more information about the Rappahannock Historical Society, visit its Web site at www.rappahannockhistsoc.org or call 540-675-1163.

Roger Piantadosi
About Roger Piantadosi 544 Articles
Former Rappahannock News editor Roger Piantadosi is a writer and works on web and video projects for Rappahannock Media and his own Synergist Media company. Before joining the News in 2009, he was a staff writer, editor and web developer at The Washington Post for almost 30 years.