Comments From a Canada Summer Jobs Student – No. 3

Hello! I have to apologize for my radio silence on this blog lately. Things have been very busy over here with lots of tours at the museum and defending my Master’s Thesis last week! There is lots to catch up on so let’s dive right in!

Over the past few weeks, I have had the fortune of helping with quite a few tours and have been touched by how far Banting House’s reach truly is. From England to Germany to Brazil, I have been able to offer tours to people from all over the world who have diabetes or know someone who has diabetes. I’ve always known that this was a special place but seeing how emotional people tend to get during their visits has really emphasized how important it is for so many people! I feel so fortunate to be able to help visitors learn more about Sir Frederick Banting and the importance of this house as the birthplace of insulin.

Recently, I have also been spending some time in the basement helping the intern and learning new skills! One such skill is cataloguing items and adding them to the collection. I was given the opportunity to work with an object and carry out the cataloguing process from start to finish and it was really such a fascinating experience. The item was a Franz Hypodermic-Needle Sharpener that was owned by Dr. John Hunt. The piece came in a box and is a very interesting item. Patented on January 28, 1958, and produced by Franz MFG. CO. INC., it was designed to do exactly as the name would suggest! Hypodermic needles would be attached to a protrusion on the wheel of the sharpener and then would be spun and ground on a whet stone to ensure that the needles were sharp.

To begin the cataloguing process, I put on gloves to assess the object. Then, I logged onto Past Perfect which is our online cataloguing program here at the museum. I filled out the necessary information about the object including a detailed description of the item and a link to a copy of the original patent that I was able to find online. I then gave it an accession number to make it easier to find for anyone looking for that item in the collection. I also measured it and took photographs to add to the file in the database. The most intimidating part of the process was probably putting the accession numbers on the item and the box that it came in. For the sharpener, I wrote up the number on a small tag and tied it around the item. The box was a bit more difficult. There was no place to tie a tag to and because the box was black, I couldn’t write the number on the bottom of it in pencil. After careful consideration and some discussion with the intern, we decided that the best thing to do was to write the number on the sticker placed on one corner of the top of the box with John Hunt’s name on it. The number was written on this in pencil and as discreetly as possible to prevent it from interfering with the visibility of the name itself.

After all of the information was put into the system and the accession numbers were attached, it was time to print off the information, file the paperwork away and put it into the collections storage room for safekeeping! I found a good spot for it to fit in and updated its location on Past Perfect. And then it was all done! I learned about cataloguing in a Museology course that I took at Western University in my graduate studies but it was so fascinating to be able to actually carry out the process. It was an excellent experience for me and now I can confidently help with any other cataloguing that needs to be done!

That is all from me today but I’ll be back soon with more stories to share in my last few weeks as the Canada Summer Jobs student here at Banting House!

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