Adventures in Collections Management

Last week I got to spend some time away from my computer and giving tours to work a bit with our collection! We received a recent donation of some artifacts that needed to be processed into our system. Banting House NHSC uses Past Perfect, a very common software used for collection management in museums around the world. Past Perfect allows you to input information about each artifact such as condition, dimensions, material, storage location, photographs and so much more! This is my first time using Past Perfect and it has been an adventure. Luckily, one of our volunteers, Meagan, who recently completed her M.A. in Museum Studies, is teaching me how to use the program.

past perfect2
The homepage for the Past Perfect 5.0.

The most intimidating element of the system is that there is no spell-check. GASP! I haven’t used a system that didn’t have spell-check in many years. I am good at spelling but I find when I am typing quickly it is easy to make mistakes. Meagan warned me how important correct spelling is for later searching in Past Perfect and if I don’t fix my mistakes right away they can be difficult to find later. So for me this became an exercise of attention to detail, patience, and taking my time.

On Friday, I was able to input two items into the system. A doctor’s bag and prescription notebook owned by Dr. W.P. Tew, a former classmate and friend of Banting. The bag was extremely cool! It was filled with all sorts of his medical equipment that I will be inputting into Past Perfect in the following weeks. The thing I found most interesting about his prescription notebook was that it had the old phone number and address for Dr. Tew’s medical office in London, Ontario. I’m currently on Google trying to see if the building is still there! I am very excited to see what I learn both about Past Perfect and Dr. Tew’s life in my further adventures of inputting this collection into the system.


W.P.T doctor's bag.JPG
Dr. W.P. Tew’s doctor bag that I inputted into Past Perfect.


This post was written by Rachel Delle Palme, Graduate Research Assistant at
Banting House NHSC. Rachel is currently completing her M.A. in Public History at
Western University.

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