#VolunteersWeek – Backlogs and Ephemera

In our last volunteer blog update, we explained how our volunteers had been assisting staff in repacking and relocating objects at our off site collections store. Since January, we have recruited five new volunteers, from all different walks of life – some are students, some are recently retired and some are wishing for a change of career – but they all have an incredible amount of enthusiasm and diligence in common. In this blog we’ll give you a catch up of what our volunteers have been doing with us, and why they get involved in the first place!

In mid January all new and existing volunteers took part in documentation training workshop with Katie, the Volunteer Coordinator and Jill, the Collections Officer. Through this they learnt the essentials of museum documentation, and the journey our museum objects go through in their time with us.

With their new found documentation training skills, our volunteers have been assisting Katie, the volunteer coordinator, in going through our ‘recent acquisitions backlog’. This is essentially the same as a build up of paperwork, or bits you haven’t had a chance to look at, in your home, or non museum office. Our backlog ranged from a 20 strong collection of spectacles to romantic love letters.

We all swiftly discovered our favourite things to register into our collection; everyone found their own particular interest – even if it was nothing that they’d previously thought of before. Everyone learnt to spell ephemera correctly, and we all got pretty clued up on its definition – ‘Ephemera is any written or printed matter that is meant to be temporary, or throwaway. The word derives from the Greek, meaning things lasting no more than a day. Some examples of types of ephemera are advertisements, letters, postcards, posters or tickets. It’s a funny thing to collect these, but they provide a wonderful example of normal life throughout the decades.

Favourite Objects

As well as our favourites, objects hauled out of the boxes proved to be really useful and downright strange.

Since January, our volunteers have undertaken an impressive 323 Hours with us and fully registered a whopping 426 objects for the museum.

We are incredibly proud of our volunteer team, and we’re very thankful that they devote their free time with us. We recently nominated our collections volunteer team for 2015 SHARE Volunteer Awards in the Behind the Scenes Award category. The volunteer collections team has been nominated for their contributions and fantastic work during 2014.

Our volunteers have joined us for all sorts of reasons, below is a collection of all the words used when our volunteers were asked ‘why are you interested in volunteering with Epping Forest District Museum?’

Volunteer Word Cloud

Our collections volunteers are getting a bit of a break whilst we prepare our museum collections for relocation back to the new Epping Forest District Museum and their new home in our onsite collections store. But we will be starting new projects in the autumn and finding more new learning experiences!

We will be looking for new volunteers to join us, in both the collections team and other aspects of the museum so keep an eye out for adverts in the next six months.

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