Friday, May 24, 2013

Sears Dental Collection

Between May 2011 and July 2011, I curated a collection of about 200 dental artifacts for the Country Doctor Musem and Laupus Health Sciences Library. The collection had been donated by Dr. Sears, D.D.S., a very kind and generous man who I had the privilege of meeting and interviewing regarding the collection.

Curating the collection was extremely rewarding. I had the chance to work with a great group of people at Laupus Library and had the opportunity to educate about curation and learn about library and archives. It was great to open these boxes-a bit like treasure chests. I also had the opportunity to learn a lot about the history of dentistry which was at times fun, fascinating and, on occasion, gross. This research truly illustrated the developments within dentistry and how far we've come thanks to the innovations and work of dentists over thes last 150 years. I was able to catalog the entire collection, plan the exhibit for display in August 2012 (coinciding with the opening of the East Carolina University School of Dental Medicine), provide basic artifact cleaning, establish conservation plan for a few of the artifacts, and store the entire collection in archivally appropriate material. It was great meeting local dentists and some of the professor of the ECU School of Dental Medicine. The dental community and Laupus Library staff were incredibly supportive, for which I am very grateful.

The entire content of the collection was digitized through ContentDM (courtesy of Ginny Gragg) and published online. It was enjoyable cataloging the artifact and overseeing artifact photography (pictures taken by John Couch and Jason Cottle). Here is the link (click on Sears Historical Dental Collection):

I hope you enjoy learning about the collection as much as I did!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Native American Heritage Day

Today is Native American Heritage Day and I was hoping to provide a list of some activities in honor of this day, similar to my post last year on Presenting Native American Heritage Month and Thanksgiving. This post was to be a look at how Native American Heritage Day is presented in our culture. However, there are few events occurring on the actual day: most tribes, universities and organizations celebrated Native American Heritage Day earlier in the month. This is actually not all that surprising considering that Native American Heritage Day is designated as the day after Thanksgiving. If you actually want people to attend these events, it is impractical to schedule these on the actual day because people will be visiting family members.

This is saddening in many ways. The actual day is not celebrated and groups have had to adopt a different day. What is even more saddening is that the day after Thanksgiving is also commonly known as Black Friday-a day of shopping deals and sales. So although people are unable to attend Native American Heritage Day events because of being with family, people are able to go on crazy shopping sprees. I'm hoping these shopping sprees are a family event at least. And for people looking to participate in Native American Heritage Day, here is what I was able to find-

Amerind Museum near Tucson, AZ offers free admission on Native American Heritage Day

NABI Native American Heritage Day in Phoenix, AZ

A grand total of two events on the actual day. The more I think about this post, the more I begin to realize that looking for these type of events is a kind of a demand on Native American groups. I do not have Native American ancestors and yet had an expectation of Native American groups to be interacting with the public on this day. I really don't have any place to say how Native American Heritage Day should be celebrated and honored. That doesn't change my feelings that it absolutely should be honored and celebrated. Or my feelings that "Black Friday" is the exact opposite of honoring Native American Heritage. But perhaps, simply being aware of the day, being aware of the native first peoples and spending time with loved ones is the best way to celebrate and honor this national holiday.

Several museums have Native American Heritage Month exhibits which would be a great family activity during the last week of November.

Salish Bounty: Traditional Native American Foods of Puget Sound at the Tulalip Hibulb Cultural Center in Marysville, Washington

Free admission to Cherokee Nation museums during Native American Heritage Month

Ute Indian Museum in Montrose, CO displays two photo exhibits for Native American Heritage Month

"Tuscarora Beadwork from 1812 to the present" at the Lewiston Opera Hall, Lewiston, NY

For other articles and thoughts on Native American Heritage Day and Thanksgiving from Native American perspectives-

Indian Country Today Media Network

Do American Indians Celebrate Thanksgiving?

Why Some Native Americans Can Laugh About Thanksgiving

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Deterioration of Organic Objects

Skeletal Material




Soft rot fungus. Both soft rot and brown rot results in brick-like macrodeterioration.



Tendering and bleaching due to UV exposure

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Conservation under the Microscope


  • Leather
Grain surface (left) and cross section (right) of leather, six different tanning techniques (SEM).

  • Skeletal Material

Micrographs of osteons from two different samples from Terme del Sarno (SEM).
Top a and b are from well preserved sample TS4
Bottom c and d are from deteriorated sample TS23.

  • Wood

Micrographs of waterlogged archaeological wood from Bowling Farm Site (SEM)

Micrographs of Redwood (Metasequoia) sample after 60 days anaerobic degradation in an artificial enivronment (SEM).  

  • Textiles

Micrograph of freeze dried cloth from man's handkerchief, recovered from deep-sea environment (SEM).


  • Glass

Glass Delamination and Crizzling (SEM)

  • Ceramics
Micrograph of ceramic vessel (SEM).

  • Stone
  • Iron
Optical micrographs of iron artifacts from the Xiongnu Empire (3rd century BC-2nd century AD) in Mongolia.

Micrograph of an iron artifact with slag inclusion.

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Archaeology, Conservation and Curation by Whitney Rose Petrey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License