Since early March, visitors to the Lovettsville Museum may have noticed a young woman quietly working with items from the Museum collection, entering descriptions in a laptop computer, and photographing each item. This is Colette Fralen, a graduate of Woodgrove High School and Mary Washington University, who is a part-time volunteer at the Museum, working under the direction of Museum Director Michael Zapf.
We recently asked Ms. Fralen a few questions about her work for the Museum.
Q. Can you tell us what you are doing with the Museum’s collection?
A. I am updating the Museum’s inventory to account for all objects donated or acquired since the Museum opened in 1979.
Q. How are you going about this?
A. I am going room by room, looking at each object to see if it is in the existing inventory, and if not, then giving it a new accession number. I’m photographing each item. Since starting, I have looked through about 200 items, and have catalogued about 100, adding them to the inventory. Eventually, we’d like to get the inventory and the photographs available online, on the website.
Q. How many items do you expect to find in the Museum’s inventory?
A. I’d say it will likely come out to be several thousand individual items, if we are counting every single photograph, article of clothing, and miscellaneous object donated to the museum. The majority of what I have accessioned so far are 3-dimensional objects such as women’s fashion accessories and ubiquitous items you would have found around someone’s house during the late 19th to early 20th century, like the remnants of ceramic bowls or someone’s receipt book. These items definitely tell us a lot about the day-to-day life of a working class individual, such as how they wanted to present themselves to others or how they managed their finances.
Q. What have you found the most interesting?
A. I think it’s the photographs. This is the closest you can come to seeing what the past looked like.
Q. Any ones in particular?
A. The family photographs – you get a sense of the community, what families looked like in Lovettsville in the past, and compare them to today.
Q. What’s your overall impression of the Museum?
A. It’s very personal … that is, these are personal objects. You can tell that the community is really involved. It’s like a community project, not just the work of one person.
Q. What is your educational background, and what are your future plans?
A. I majored in Historic Preservation at Mary Washington, graduating in 2021. I want to go to graduate school and get a Master’s degree in Library Science, hopefully either at the University of Maryland, or the University of Kentucky. I will probably enter graduate school in the Fall of 2023. Meanwhile, I am working full-time, and volunteering here on Saturdays.
Q. How long do you plan on continuing to volunteer here?
A. Oh, a couple of years.
Q. Great! Hopefully we’ll be expanding the Museum while you’re here, and you can help us organize our collections and create new displays. What ideas do you have about displays?
A. I’d like to see more exhibits and displays. Such as on the local doctors, the schools, prominent leaders in the community. We could change the displays from time to time.