It’s Bigger on the Inside

 By Tara Backhouse and Misty Snyder

Hello Everyone!

Last February we brought you exciting news of our inventory project! Ok, you may be scratching your heads now, wondering how inventory can be exciting.  If so, than you need to read Misty’s blog from February!  As she demonstrates, any project with person-sized boxes is exciting.

Inventory8

It is also exciting because of the story behind the inventory, and the story of what we inventoried. We have a collection of nearly 200,000 items, and that collection is always growing.  In the last 10 years, it has grown by over 700%!  We now have over 2000 historic objects and pieces of art, 20,000 newspapers, maps, documents, works on paper, and audiovisual materials, and at least 145,000 photographs. Hundreds of our documents, letters, maps and newspapers date from the 19th century, and they tell us about the Seminole War period and the Seminole Tribe’s journey to self-determination.  The postcards and photographs from the post-war late 19th and early 20th century show the Tribe’s journey to federal recognition and financial success.

smiley-emoticons-face-vector-happy-expression_7ywt6b

The Museum is a special place. We serve the Seminole community and we are dedicated to preserving Tribal history as well as its current events.  We continue to collect photographs, documents and audiovisual material that document the Tribe’s activities in recent decades. In fact, most of our photographs have come from the Seminole Tribune, the Tribe’s newspaper. The Tribune photographers have traversed all six Seminole reservations and associated communities for the last 30-40 years, documenting important people, events and community life, as well as featuring historical pieces about the Indians of Florida. These photographs tell the story of a tribe famous for leading the charge in Indian sovereignty during the decades they charted that path.

TennileTribuneOrg2015

A 2015 donation of 30,000 photographs was quite a challenge to organize!

 

We were honored to have taken custody of these photographs. However, they rapidly filled our vault, and we wondered how we’d have space to properly house these objects.  Also, we wondered how we’d be able to keep taking important donations for years to come.  We knew we couldn’t make the vault bigger, so what was our next option?

crowdedArchival2016

Large Fixed Shelving Filled Up Fast and Left Two Much Empty Floor Space!

 

With the help of a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services we were able to begin a renovation project in the fall of 2016. The first step was to inventory and pack the collection, and this is when Misty had to use the person-sized boxes!

Inventory3

IMG_0290

This step was complete in early 2017 and after the contents of the vault were moved to museum-quality off-site storage, we got into the nitty gritty of the demo phase.  The carpet and dropped ceiling were removed.  Then a layer of concrete was poured at the back of the vault in order to create a raised area where the movable shelving could be installed onto rails.  The edges of the ceiling were sealed to prevent pest problems, and HVAC vents and lighting apparatuses had to be re-engineered in order to suit the preferred open-style ceiling.  Then the entire vault was painted a bright light color, to maximize the illumination in the space.  After that, five long rows of movable shelving were installed.

For the final part of the renovation project, we had a custom stainless steel table installed over a special oversized flat file that we left room for in the front of the vault. This table gave us a workspace while providing storage for historic maps underneath.

Figure 5

I think you’ll agree, the new vault looks great! We estimate that the new shelving will double our storage capacity, providing much needed space to continue to preserve Seminole history.  We’ve started to bring the collection back and it’s good to see the shelves and drawers starting to fill up!

It will take time to unpack and re-install all the material, but we expect to complete the process by the end of the year.  And we’ve got a lot to catalog in the meantime!  We’re anxious to show everyone the beautiful new “bigger on the inside” vault in early 2018.  Let us know if you’d like to see it!

In the meantime, you can see amazing items from all our collections check on our Online Collections Page here: http://semtribe.pastperfectonline.com/)

imls_logo_2c

This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services [MA-30-16-0122-16]

Advertisements

An Alphabetic Opportunity at the Museum

Hello again from the Museum’s Collections team!  We are happy to host many volunteers and work experience participants throughout the year.  This summer an enterprising young journalist used our library resources to design an alphabetic tour through Native American history, with a special focus on Florida.  This proved to be a good way to explore an interest and consider a possible career.  Please enjoy Randean’s article, and let us know if we can help you explore something!

 

Native American History A to Z

By Randean Osceola, summer intern at the Ah-Tha-Thi-Ki museum.

My name is Randean Osceola, and I am a part of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, I am a member of the Wind Clan family. I am an upcoming freshman at Sagemont high school. This summer I decided to be an intern at the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum through the summer work experience program (SWEP). I’m not doing this to pass time or earn money; I’m doing this to get better at reading and writing, and because my mom wanted me to. I decided to write this article because I wanted to inform people about our past.

A: Abiaka Jones “Sam” was the head of a band of Miccosukees during wartime. Seminoles joined him on his quest against the United States. For this reason his “campaign” against the U.S. was one of the most successful. His legacy is a big part of why we are here today.

B: Chief Billie Bowlegs, “Billie Bolek”, was a leader of the Seminoles in Florida in the second and third parts of the Seminole war against the United States. He resisted at first, but eventually moved to Indian Territory.

Billy Bowlegs001

C: Chief Cowkeeper was the Hitchiti speaking Oconee chief at Payne’s Prairie. He challenged Jonathan Bryan, who was trying to steal Native American land. He was torn between peace and war, but later decided to fight for his land.

D: Dunlawton Plantation Sugar Mill Ruins was a Seminole war battle site. It was destroyed in 1835. In 1846 attempts were made of reestablishing the sugar mill, however those attempts failed.

E: Everglades was a safe place for the Native Americans during wartime. While the Seminoles knew the ways of the Everglades, the soldiers were lost.

2005-27-157

F: Fort Brooke, located on the west coast of Florida, was significant in the Removal era. In March 1841 Wildcat, a war leader, went to Fort Brooke to have a meeting with the soldiers. It was in Fort Brooke that President Tyler allowed the Seminoles to stay in Florida for a time, but they were not allowed to leave their land except to go to Fort Brooke. They would receive no food or water.

G: Geronimo “Go-Tay-Thlay” was an Apache chief and a medicine man. Geronimo led his followers on a series of escapes from the soldiers. However, he eventually surrendered to General Nelson Miles where he stayed in captivity until his death.

H: Hills Hadjo was a Seminole leader during the 19th century. He was an active part of the Seminole wars. He was one of the chief instigators of the second uprising.

I:  (The) Indian Removal Act was signed into law by Andrew Jackson on May 28th, 1830; this gave Jackson the Mississippi land in exchange for Indian land.  Only a few tribes went peacefully, many resisted and later agreed, but only a few stayed in their homeland.

J: John Quincy Adams was a U.S. president who differed from earlier presidents Jackson and Monroe in his policy towards the Indians. He was determined that there should be no forcible removal of any tribes. Adams forbade the state of Georgia from surveying the Indian lands.

K: (Chief) King Payne he was the son of Chief Cowkeeper and one of the leading chiefs in the Seminole Tribe. He led his people against the Spanish and the Americans during wartime.

L: Lake Okeechobee was desired by many soldiers during wartime, however none were successful. Not long after the soldiers were rejected, a Seminole resident, James B. Brighton used the land and made another reservation.

M: Muscogulges was the referred name to the Creeks, Seminole, Yahmasee, Tuckabatchee, Hitchiti, Koasati, Timuca, and many other ancient tribes. Rather than naming each one the soldiers referred to the Native Americans as Muscogulges.

N: Naiche, was the last chief of the Chirricahua Apache Tribe. He was the youngest son of Chief Cochise. He spent 27 years in captivity along with some of his people, until he was released in 1913. Naiche and his people continued to fight bravely against the U.S. and Spain until death did them part.

O: Osceola “Billy Powell” was a military leader during the Seminole wars. He stood up for his people, as a force to be reckoned with. If it wasn’t for Osceola we wouldn’t be here today.

Osceola002

P: “Payne’s Prairie Preserve State Park”, is land that was home to many Seminoles. It was the site of action during wartime, and now has a visitor’s center with displays on the war.

Q: Quanah Parker, he was a war leader of the Comanche people. He fought in the Red River war during 1874-1875 with Colonel Ranald S. Mackenzie.

R: Rain-in-the-face was a Native American leader. He was a warrior at a young age: having fought in a December, 1866 battle against Captain William Fetterman’s troops during the Civil War.

S: Seminoles are Native American people originally from Florida. Many live in modern day Oklahoma, but the descendants of the unconquered still live in Florida. The Seminole Tribe of Florida is one of the federally recognized tribes of today.

T: The Trail of Tears was the name given to Andrew Jackson’s actions towards the Native Americans to vacate their lands. He forced them to go to Indian Territory- they set off on foot. A Choctaw Indian told the Alabama newspaper that it was a “Trail of Tears and Death.”

U: The Ute people are the oldest residents of Colorado, their home is in the mountains and vast areas. They are said to have lived there since the beginning of time-there is no proof of them ever not being there.

V: Captain (Joseph) Van Swearingen, was recognized because of his actions during the Battle of Okeechobee. His brave actions lead him to death. The U.S. army troops made a fort in Martin County Florida during the Second Seminole War, they named it after him.

W: Wilma Mankiller, she became the first female Cherokee leader. She won many awards for her leadership and was even Women of the Year in 1986.

X: Xega or “Jaega,” were Indians identified by 16th century Spanish explorers. There is little information about the Jaega tribe, but there are known links to the Ais tribe. The Jaega tribe and the Ais tribe are joined together by marriage. Just west of Boynton Beach in an area of agricultural reserve people have found what seem to be Jaega remains.

Y: Yoholo-Mico, was a Creek Indian. He protested the Indian Springs Treaty. He was the head man of Eufaula town, as well as an outstanding warrior.

Yoholo-Micco001

Z: The Zunis are from New Mexico. Spaniards found their land and demanded they move out. Instead of submitting the Zuni’s resisted. The Zuni’s are still apart of New Mexico today.

 

Bibliography of resources available at the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum Library:

Wright, Leitch Jr. Creeks and Seminoles. Lincoln: University of Lincoln Press, 1986. Print.

Hann, John H. Indians of Central and South Florida 1513-1763. Gainesville: A Florida Heritage, 2003. Print.

Wood, N.B. Lives of Famous Indian Chiefs. Des Moines: Marc Woodmansee, 1906. Print.

Mahon, John K. History of the Second Seminole War. Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1985. Print.

Horan, James D. The McKinney-Hall Portrait Gallery of American Indians. New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1972. Print.

Covington, James W. The Seminoles of Florida. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1993. Print.

Counting what Counts

An Inventory Adventure

By

Misty Snyder, Collections Assistant

Completing an inventory doesn’t sound like the most exciting thing to the majority of people…

pic1

… but it is a very important component of Collections Management. Here at the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum we have 8 main collections. These include:

 

1) Permanent Archival Collection- all items that are essentially paper in nature (newspapers, postcards, photos, government reports, books, periodicals, reference works, maps, and  manuscripts).

pic2

2) Oral History Collection- oral histories and other recordings from the Seminole community, subject to controlled access procedures.

pic3

3) Audiovisual Collection –non-accessioned film and audio recordings of various Seminole events.

pic4

 

Tribal Spirits: Indians of the Americas

4) General Reference Photography Collection – a non-accessioned collection of photos and slides that depict Seminole life in Florida.                                   pic5

Color photo of women in traditional clothing cooking in a chickee.

5) Library Collection – books, journals, and unpublished manuscripts relating to Native American culture, museum practices, and the archaeology of Florida, accessible to the staff, general public, and Tribal community.

pic6

“American Indian Art Magazine”, Spring 1979.

5) Permanent Artifact Collections – all non-paper-based historic items such as baskets, clothing, militaria, archaeological collections, beaded items, dolls, artwork, sculptures.

pic7

Female palmetto fiber doll w/ one row of patchwork.

 

6) Teaching Collection – a non-accessioned collection that consists of objects used by education and outreach staff at presentations and events.

7) Exhibit Collection – a non-accessioned collection containing objects that can be permanently exhibited or loaned out with STEP traveling exhibits.

8) THPO Collection – archaeological materials obtained largely from surveys conducted by the Tribal Historic Preservation Office (THPO) since 2003.

(To see more amazing items from these collections check out our Online Collections Database here: http://semtribe.pastperfectonline.com/)

The current inventory project includes the first 4 of these collections, which are housed in the Archival Vault, and serves two purposes: to satisfy our Collections Management Policy of a biannual inventory of our collections and to prepare the collections for offsite storage during the completion of a vault renovation. This renovation, made possible through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services’ “Museums for America” collections stewardship program, will install high-density movable shelving in the Museum’s main building vault. The new shelving will double our current storage capacity, providing much needed space to continue to grow the collections as well as to properly house items.

In order to install compacted shelving in the archival vault, EVERYTHING needs to be removed from the vault and stored elsewhere, and to do this, it must all be accounted for through an inventory.

pic8

The types of items that were inventoried range from artwork on paper, historic newspapers, rare books, government documents, manuscripts, photographs, postcards, maps, and a large variety of audiovisual and ephemera materials.  Many have already been cataloged and housed in archival materials.  But some of the items, not yet cataloged, have needed some extra attention. For example, we removed enough rubber bands from recently acquired photos to make a rubber band ball the size of a softball! Just think of all the photographs that were saved from the deteriorating effects of being bound this way.  Not quite a world record, but we were impressed …

pic9

World-record rubber band ball (according to Google)

After insuring that each item was adequately protected we securely packed them into over 200 moving boxes and recorded their respective locations.                       pic10

Some of the boxes were big enough to hold a person!

   And we used four of these giant rolls of bubble wrap. I’m all packed up and ready to go!

Very soon the collection will be transported by museum moving specialists to offsite museum quality storage where it will be stored in a temperature and humidity controlled environment while the renovations take place. So far we have inventoried over 140,000 items, including over 100,000 photos!

pic11

             “97,873 Ahh, Ahh, Ahh…”

These photos have come to us from multiple sources, one being the Seminole Tribune. (The Seminole Tribune is the official newspaper of the Seminole Tribe of Florida and is published monthly. You can access Seminole Tribune articles online here: http://www.semtribe.com/SeminoleTribune/)

We have just a little more to go to complete this part of the project and are getting ready for the big move. Being new to the Museum, it has been a true adventure getting to inventory the entire archival collection. The work has been both fascinating and laborious – and a great introduction to the priceless wonders cared for here at the Ah-Tah-Thi-KI Museum each and every day.

This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services [MA-30-16-0122-16]

imls_logo_2c

 

 

Young Scholars Visit and Research

By

Mary Beth Rosebrough, Research Coordinator

Weiss School in Library

Elementary school is a pleasant memory for most of us, isn’t it? Playing on the swings, jumping rope, learning the cool 9 times table rule, yet does anything strike terror into a parent’s heart more than hearing your child say, “I have to do a Science Fair project”?  Ugh, the dreaded images of procrastination and meltdowns, late nights and running out of construction paper.  It’s a parent’s nightmare!  If you have or know a child who has ever completed a project by themselves, please alert the media!

But then there is the National History Day project. Started in 1974 in Ohio by a professor at Case Western Reserve, it has over a million participants competing every year.  And every year a small portion of that million contacts or come visit us in a quest to win.  Here in the research library, behind a locked door at the back of the museum, we help numerous students research their innovative ideas.  This year has been no exception. As the Research Coordinator I have fielded many requests for information and visit appointments.  Most are from high school students but not always.  Sometimes middle school students want to study here too.

Blog 7

This past December we were lucky enough to host the Weiss School for gifted children. Driving down all the way from Palm Beach Gardens, a good two hour drive, eight students in sixth and seventh grade, four chaperones and one teacher, Mr. Steve Hammerman, came and toured the museum before “hitting the books” after lunch.  This precocious bunch had lots of questions.  Did you know that is a sign of intelligence?  Intellectual curiosity is a hallmark of a good student and Bam! Bam! Bam! – the barrage of questions was furious!  What a great experience!  Who doesn’t love a student eager to learn?

Blog 5

Steven Hammerman, history teacher extraordinaire, was a particularly dedicated and earnest guide. He skillfully led the students (6 girls and 2 boys) through the choppy waters of forming a real hypothesis as we stood in the library discussing their focus.  I was able to explain to them, as they were interested in the Seminole conflict of the 1800s, the newest thinking about the ethnogenesis of the Tribe.  We know, and research is verifying, that the Seminole Tribe of Florida is descended from not just Creek people who migrated into Florida but also from the peoples who were already here.  We also spoke of the Tribal view of the Seminole Wars.  Let me change that to War, singular.  Tribal members have often expressed to me that the time of the 1800s was really one long conflict with intermittent escalations.  Those are what historians call “wars”.  But really the 50 years before the end of the Civil War was one long tumultuous, murderous episode of betrayal and fear.  Our Exhibits Curator, Rebecca Fell, talked about this concept while she and her team installed our current exhibit about Seminole struggle and survival during that war-filled century.

Blog 4

But I digress….the students from the Weiss School were interested in topics surrounding the conflicts of the 1800s: Andrew Jackson, General Jesup, how the conflicts changed the lifeways of the Tribe and how they survived. They were excited to find a concentration of books on Seminole life and the Seminole War(s).  Most students worked in small groups reading and taking notes from the books on the shelves.  Some were interested in the historic documents we had laid out on the Archival vault table with names like Andrew Jackson and Fort Brooke.  It was a pleasure to teach them how to handle rare documents and watch them begin to comprehend the special care we take to preserve the history of the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

Blog 2

Weiss School in Library 2

The day was a great success and Mr. Hammerman was very pleased with the progress the students made in learning how to research, how to find sources (hint: look at the sources used by the author of the book you are reading), and how to form a hypothesis and write a paper using the materials available (one of the most valuable things I learned in college – thank you, Dr. Andrew Frank!). All went home with just a little more knowledge of the Seminole Tribe of Florida and a greater appreciation of what it took to survive and thrive! We had a great day hosting young gifted scholars who were excited to learn and excited to be here.  What could make a better day than that?

Lock and Load: the Museum’s Firearm Collection

By Marlene Gray, Conservator

working

FGCU Intern, Silas Pacheco removes dirt and corrosion from a pistol on left. Museum Conservator, Marlene Gray applies protective wax to a rifle on right.

As the Museum’s Conservator, one of my large projects this year was to examine and assess the firearms in the Museum collection. While some of our exhibits have replica weapons on display, the real action is found in the vault where the historic objects are stored. Thirty-eight pistols, rifles, carbines, muskets, and revolvers are safely kept in storage (and are available for viewing by making an appointment for a behind the scenes tour if I have peaked your interest!) I had to determine whether the weapons were still loaded with gun powder or bullets, remove harmful corrosion and dirt, and complete an overall condition survey of that specific collection.   Once it was confirmed that the firearms were safe to handle, each one was inspected and lots of interesting things were discovered.

IMG_8212

 

The oldest firearm in the collection is a 1750’s French Officer’s musket. French designed weaponry was the inspiration for early 19th century American-made firearms at both armories in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia and Springfield, Massachusetts.  The majority of the Museum’s firearms collection was manufactured at one of these two armories.  This musket is one of few that contain a leather-wrapped piece of flint in the lock.  As the trigger is pulled, the flint makes contact with the frizzen to create sparks that hit the priming powder in the pan, causing it to burn and release enough gases to project the ball from the barrel.

Muskets from the 18th and 19th centuries were known to misfire and not work well in humid and damp conditions.  Percussion cap systems were invented in the early 19th century to remedy these problems, but it was the Maynard Tape Primer System that helped increase the rate of fire.  Dr. Edward Maynard’s tape primer consisted of two thin strips of paper embedded with pellets of priming material.

1996-35-8.jpg

Model 1855 U.S. Percussion Rifled-Musket dated 1858

Compared to the manual loading needed with prior percussion cap systems, when the musket’s hammer was cocked, the tape automatically advanced through the lock.  While it was a neat idea, Maynard’s system still did not do well in humid climates, like Florida.  The U.S. Model 1855 Percussion Rifled-Musket in the Museum’s collection is an example of this tape primer system.  This particular musket dates to 1858 and while cleaning, the tape primer was found rolled inside the patchbox.

three

Clockwise from top left: Quality mark and flint from New England style Fowler Flintlock Rifle; U.S. Model 1840 Hall-North Breech-loading Percussion Carbine with fishtail lever; tape primer found in patchbox of U.S. Model 1855 Percussion Rifled-Musket.

For something a little rarer, the Museum holds two firearms that were both limited productions. Manufactured by Simeon North in Connecticut, the U.S. Model 1840 Hall-North .52 caliber, breech-loading percussion carbine, Type II is one of just over 6,000 that were made between 1840 and 1843.  It has a fishtail-shaped lever that releases the breech, which is why it was called the fishtail model.  Then there is the .56 caliber Colt Model 1855 revolving rifle that would have been used during the latter years of the Seminole War and during the Civil War.  Only 9,310 of these rifle models were created.  Samuel Colt’s big break came during the Seminole Wars when the U.S. Army purchased his earlier versions of revolving rifles which deterred Seminole warriors from immediate retaliation after U.S. soldiers used their single-shot weapons.

1997-51-2Colt Model 1855 Revolving Rifle

Lastly, there are the materials and intricate designs that make each firearm a work of art. The New England style Fowler flintlock rifle was the first American-made firearm manufactured in the 1770’s and 1780’s and used by early American settlers to hunt.  The Museum’s rifle has a mark on the barrel consisting of a crowned X, which was an indication of the quality standard for pewter.  Our 19th century Spanish smooth bore percussion rifle uses a Miquelet lock system that was often used in Florida’s Spanish settlements.  The ornate gold inlay and shell patchbox make this one of the most decorative weapons in the collection.2003-317-1  Spanish smooth bore percussion rifle

Patinas of blue and brown were historic chemical treatments applied to firearms as both decoration and to prevent metal corrosion.  In the early 19th century, bluing was done with charcoal and heat to form a blue-grey color.  The practice is still done today with different chemicals to create a more blue-purple color.  Bluing can be seen on the U.S. Model 1816 flintlock pistol, manufactured by Simeon North for the U.S. War Department in 1813.  Care must be taken not to remove the bluing or browning patinas on historic firearms since it is an example of historic practices.

threefull

From top to bottom: Oldest firearm in the Museum’s collection, 1750’s French Officer’s Musket; detail of gold inlay on 19th century Spanish Smooth Bore Percussion Rifle; “bluing” on the barrel band of Colt Model 1855 Revolving Rifle.

IMG_8210

Our collection of weapons represents not only the American-made examples that would have been used against Seminole people during the war torn 19th century in Florida, but also one example of the lighter and more versatile Spanish-made weapons that Seminoles acquired through trade during the same period.  Such Spanish guns, as well as the local knowledge and cunning resourcefulness of the Seminoles themselves, helped the Seminole people and their allies resist American soldiers and their guns in order to emerge The Unconquered!

IMG_8208

You can look into these subjects at the Museum research library, where our Research Coordinator can help you find the information you need. Please call ahead for appointments, so that we are better prepared to help you!  To see the historic guns, ask for a behind-the-scenes tour during your next visit to the Museum.  Hope we see you soon!