Blog Post 7

Museum Label: This bill for sale is a pre printed document, made for transactions within the State of South Carolina. This particular document details the sale of Chloe, sold by Z.B. Oakes to Elias N. Ball on October 25, 1862 for thirteen hundred dollars. This document was signed by both parties, as well as a witness.

Reflection: While writing the label for this piece I was only able to provide a fraction of the information I wanted to include, as there was very little about this document that would be deemed “unimportant” and not worthy of being in the label. I was only able to describe the most basic information, there was no room to elaborate to the meanings and implications of this document. I was able to say that it was proof of a $1300 transaction for a girl named Chloe, but was unable to describe the magnitude of the situation, I was unable to describe that this document controls Chloe’s entire life. This measly piece of paper that had to be summed up in no more than 80 words was proof of a lack of human empathy. It is nearly impossible to convey the true importance of some items in such few words. I have no doubt that there are many more documents  the same as this one which are being underplayed and deemed to have unimportant information, whereas the truth of the matter is that none of this information can possibly be deemed as unimportant. The struggle to understand the history of a place and or people is only perpetuated by the nature of the quick descriptions of such items. If we as a people were able to fully understand the hardships of people like presented in this document rather than avoiding the long description, we would have a much less ignorant society.

One thought on “Blog Post 7

  1. I really enjoyed reading about the museum label you constructed and the additional contextual information/analysis about that item. As you described, engaging with these sorts of documents/objects is an important way to engage history directly. I think experience-based and hands-on learning is one of the best ways to learn about the past, and we see through this assignment the challenge that museums face in conveying public history. Thank you for your thoughts and observations on this topic!

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