Accession Labels As Memory

This summer has obviously been a lot different at the Mitchell House.  The House is closed.  I am all alone inside.  It is incredibly quiet – just the voices of occasional passersby, children on bikes, a car.  I’m alone with my thoughts as I quietly work on projects that need to be done every year.  And I am working on projects that need to be done periodically – though not every year –  and this summer allowed me to focus on those projects in particular.

As I sit and work on various small cleaning and conservation projects, memories come back.  Handling a large piece of crockery to do a more in-depth cleaning, I gently turn it over to find its accession label.  I know the person’s handwriting for most of these labels and sometimes I catch my breath – many of these people are now gone.  And while they were very much a part of the Mitchell House and the MMA, they were also a part of my world, my growing up, and they are still a part of me.  They were my mentors, my friends.  When I started volunteering at age twelve, I would be regaled with stories of the Mitchells by women who had been friends with Maria Mitchell’s cousins.  Those stories not only continue in me – I pass them on to whomever comes in contact with the Mitchell House – interns, volunteers, visitors, MMA staff.  In that way, Maria and her family – and those women who told me the stories – live on and their stories are made even more real.

So, my time at the Mitchell House is a little different, and at times, a bit more personal.  But, I think that is another layer that makes the MMA the special place that it is.  That personal touch; that almost direct reach back to Maria and her cousins.  The MMA has a heart and soul that lives on even though all of those people are no longer with us – not just our namesake but the people who built the Association in her honor and to promote and preserve her legacy and home.

JNLF