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News Student Blog: Lewes Historical Society

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​Left: UD Class of 2022 student Francine Mancuso working on archival and catalog paperwork while standing in front of map cases. Before her are some of the selves that hold many of the archives Hollinger boxes. These boxes store and protect most of the collections documents and object information. Center: Mancuso cataloging and inspecting paper documents stored within one of the archival map drawers. (Photo taken by Collections Intern, Jimmy Poole.) Right: Detail of a handwritten indenture concerning legal matters with land.

In this blog post, UD undergraduate student Francine Mancuso discusses her summer as part of a team processing the diverse archival collections of the Lewes Historical Society. (Francine is an undergraduate sophomore at the University of Delaware, and a member of UD’s Art Conservation Club.)—

Throughout the 2019 summer season, I have had the opportunity to work with the Lewes Historical Society in Lewes, Delaware as an intern for the collections and archival department before proceeding into my Sophomore year at the University of Delaware. The Collections internship team consisted of three interns, two additional applicants and myself. As a team effort, we worked under the supervision and helpful guidance of Carolyn Claypoole, Collections Chair for the Lewes Historical Society, with a project goal to catalog the artifacts held within the archival holdings of the Lewes Historical Society (LHS). The project objectives were also carried throughout the town of Lewes at other additional LHS building locations, such as the Rollins Museum, Cannonball House, and Brittingham Archive, allowing the team to have a truly immersive experience. With each location listed, the team and I took important steps to categorize and properly describe the archival location information, accession numbers/ID numbers, condition or the object, characteristics and history of each object, etc. within museum displays and archival storage. After the collected information was quality checked by each of the other interns, it was then entered into PastPerfect: “(LHS system of record for capturing descriptive information on holdings - Carolyn Claypoole, Intern Evaluation)”. If the information previously found in the online archival catalog was inaccurate or flawed, it was updated to the current proper representation for the artifacts.

​Left: Mancuso cataloging and examining an American flag held within one of the map drawers in the archives. Center: Close examination with the use of a magnifying glass of a Howard Pyle print that was exhibited in a Harper's Weekly Newspaper as “Women at the Polls in New Jersey in the Good Old Times." Right: Detail of a Howard Pyle print exhibited in a Harper's Weekly Newspaper as “Politics in The Olden Time - General Jackson, President - Elect, On His Way To Washington."

With this internship, I have had an incredible experience handling and cataloging many historically important artifacts dating as far back as the early 18th century; ranging from art, paper documents, photography, geology records, furniture, fabrics, and a variety of different objects. My co-workers and I also had the opportunity to speak with the Lewes Historical Society Board of Directors to give an overview of our progress, talk about our discoveries, and to speak about our experience with the internship. Additionally, we had the ability to assist with the local community by locating certain objects and documents within the archives to fulfill research requests from the public. The collections internship with the Lewes Historical Society has given me hands-on experience working within the archival and museum environment, helping to further my understanding within my studies as an Art Conservation major.

I was attracted to art conservation by my intrigue for art and history. So far, I have visited multiple art museums over the years, spending hours captivated by the artistry of the many paintings and artifacts held within their collections. When I gaze at a canvas, I follow each brush stroke with my eyes- imagining what was going through the artist mind and appreciating the symphony of dramatic beauty and history that revolves around each piece. I have always held a high respect for old artifacts and always wonder what stories from the past they may hold. Art conservation to me, is a way of showing this respect to both the artist and its history, by prolonging the life and legacy of the artwork for future generations to enjoy, just like I do today. 

​Left: Mancuso in front the archives wall racks which assist in hanging many of the framed paintings, photographs, and prints held within the collection. In this photo, she is examining a drawn portrait of James Moore of Lewes, Delaware, c. 1789. Center: Examination of an intricately decorated frame holding a photo of a woman. Right: Mancuso examining the portrait of “Hannah, Wife of John Ashby of the Lynches Salop. Eldest Son of George Ashby of Quenby. Married 1713" (inscription in bottom right corner of the painting) with an illuminated magnifying glass.

At the conclusion of our project, I was able to sit with my supervisor, Carolyn Claypoole, where she was able to conduct my Intern Evaluation: “...Ms. Mancuso provided outstanding service to the Lewes Historical Society over the course of her internship. Given that the collection is at the center of everything the Lewes Historical Society does, the importance and impact of Ms. Mancuso's efforts to increase the level of intellectual and physical control the society has over its holdings cannot be overstated…”. Overall, the Lewes Historical Society Collections Internship has given me a firsthand experience with museum and archival work environment that has fostered my outlook and future endeavors as I work towards my art conservation degree at the University of Delaware.

Francine Mancuso, UD Class of 2022

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In this blog post, UD undergraduate student Francine Mancuso discusses her summer as part of a team processing the diverse archival collections of the Lewes Historical Society.

In this blog post, UD undergraduate student Francine Mancuso discusses her summer as part of a team processing the diverse archival collections of the Lewes Historical Society.

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  • The Department of Art Conservation
  • 303 Old College
  • University of Delaware
  • Newark, DE 19716, USA
  • Phone: 302-831-3489