Archaeologists often study things that have been lost, dropped, or discarded. Unlike a painting or document that has been preserved intentionally, these items can tell us about the parts of the past that have been long forgotten.
One object that we hold in the collection has a fascinating backstory that allows us to imagine the lives of everyday people doing everyday jobs. The card attached to this pin says “At one time while repairs were being made on the organ at Kings Chapel this old pin was found within the organ. This organ was procured from England in 1756 and paid for by private subscription. It cost 500 pounds sterling and was said to have been selected by the great Handel himself though the great master was at that time blind. This pin was found by the Boston organ builder, Mr. Henry E. Holland. 1886”
|NN2008.0010 with penny for scale|
In this case, Mr. Henry E. Holland acted as an amateur archaeologist by preserving the pin and telling us as much about the circumstances of its discovery as possible. Knowing where and how it was found gives us a much deeper understanding of the object itself – the pin alone tells us very little, but the pin and the story together give us material around which to imagine a narrative.
By Sira Dooley Fairchild, Finance and Administrative Assistant