Object History

My first job in an archive was in early high school, a winter internship at my hometown’s historical society. Inside a mansionous barn, I walked down dusty rows piled high with broken household objects, rusty farm instruments, crumbling papers and photographs. At the far end of this expanse was a bulky computer loaded with a catalogue software. My job was to enter each object into this digital catalogue, copying information from paper records and supplementing with what I could glean from the objects themselves.

Ever since, I have been fascinated by the search of an object’s history on or within the object itself. Most objects keep mum about where they have been, who owned them, and what they were for, forcing / enabling historians, archivists, and archaeologists to make their best guesses.

But this bag, which I found on the stoop of a coffee roaster in North Beach San Francisco, told me so much. This object was its own record, stamped with data I didn’t know I wanted to know.

My training at the historical society must have stuck because I couldn’t help but add to this record the bit of information I knew, the most recent part of this object’s history. So, I stitched it in.


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