Guest Blogger - Su Wolfe on Collecting Mummies

I am delighted to host Su Wolfe as guest blogger for today's post!  Su is Senior Cataloger and Serials Specialist for the American Antiquarian Society.  She has also written a wonderful book which became the catalyst for our on-line friendship.  The book is entitled "Mummies in 19th-Century America" and was published by McFarland in 2009.  Over to you Su...
Collecting mummies
         My interest in Egyptian mummies was formed when I was a pre-schooler and my grandfather took me to a local museum which happened to have a mummy case. One look and I was hooked for life. Of course in the 1950’s there was not the plethora of information about Egypt which is available to today’s young people, and so I used to beg Grossvater to bring me books from the adult section on the topic. I was a precocious reader and so between those books and National Geographic I became as knowledgeable as I could. It was not until my college years, however, that I was fully able to indulge in my interests and begin to collect mummies.
         Not the actual objects, of course, but photos and information and figurines all began gather in my house. I planned vacations around museums which contained mummies--luckily my husband indulges me that way—and it was he who urged me to put all of my knowledge into some sort of order. And so began the EMINA project, an Access database of every mummy or part thereof which can be documented to have entered the United States and/or Canada, and which tracks various aspects of each mummy such as owners, sex, if it is a body part or not, if it is extant or not, its occupation, dynasty, place of discovery, and so on.
         Most of my historical information comes from old newspapers and periodicals, local histories and ephemera such as broadsides. For new information I keep alerts on various web page search engines and monitor Egypt-themed lists such as the Egyptologists Electronic Forum as well was look at exhibition schedules, current literature (especially on scanning mummies) and ask people about mummies when I do lectures. I try and photograph mummies in museums  as well as take down any information the exhibition tags yield. If I can’t photograph I buy exhibition catalogues and post cards. My friends photograph for me when they travel as well. I currently have more than 10 filing cabinet drawers filled with mummies and the pile keeps growing.
         Eventually EMINA will be available online for researchers, thanks to computer savvy friends and the Egyptologists Electronic Forum. Once it is up and available I am sure it will grow and my mummy collecting can continue. I am pretty sure I haven’t found them all yet.

SJ Wolfe
12 July 2012

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