Professor Lyon’s Trick Oxen

The Institute of Museum and Library Services awarded a grant of $24,750 to the Litchfield Historical Society for a one-year project, Improving Access: CollectionSpace and ArchiveSpace to enhance public access to the Society’s collections through modifications to its databases. You may wonder what that has to do with Professor Lyon’s Trick Oxen. Currently, users who want to find what we have on the topic have to know where to look. The first stop might be a search of Archon, our database of finding aids (tools to help locate information within a collection of documents), followed by a search of CollectionSpace, our database for museum objects.

Assuming the researcher knew to look in both places, s/he would find a ribbon printed for the Columbian Exposition, and a finding aid for a small collection of papers. Upon the completion of the grant project, users will be able to retrieve all related materials in one fell swoop. In addition, they will be able to “tag” photographs, artifacts, and documents using a new social tagging feature. Finally, rather than seeing the archivist’s biography of the creator (here, Professor Lyon) in the finding aid, and the curator’s biography in the collectionspace record, users will see only one biographical note, and staff will only need to create one. While you await this amazing enhancement, please enjoy a few selections from the collection.

According to other documents in the collection, Lyon’s cattle won four first prizes at the World’s Fair. They were said to, “march, waltz, stand cross-legged, kiss, walk on their knees, perform on pedestals, roll a turntable, roll a ball, perform on a barrel, sit, lie down, jump over, walk backwards, ride the turntable, etc.”

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About Linda Hocking

I have been the Curator of Library & Archives at the Litchfield Historical Society since 2002. Currently, I also serve on the State Historical Records Advisory Board and the Connecticut League of History Organizations board. I have been a certified archivist since 2005.

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