By Patricia Reid, Collections Manager
Fun fact: 2026 is the 250th anniversary of the American War of Independence, also commonly known as the Revolutionary War. In preparation for this milestone anniversary, here at the Museum we are doing an inventory of our collections relating to this moment in history. What does that mean? Today, I’m going to take you on a quick behind-the-scenes peek into our collections and how we inventory artifacts.
(Top image: capturing images of a cast iron six pound round shot fired during the Battle of Valcour Bay on October 11, 1776. It was a common ammunition type recovered at Valcour Bay during the Valcour Bay Research Project (1999-2004).)
We have a variety of different materials in our collections, including pieces that were given to, loaned to, and recovered by the Museum since it opened in 1985. Many of the objects were recovered archaeologically, during Museum-led projects like the Valcour Bay Research Project (1999-2006), the Ferris Homestead excavations (1988), the Arnold’s Bay Project (2021-2023), and many more.
To conduct an inventory, our team reviews our storage and exhibit spaces, shelf by shelf and display case by display case, and collects basic information about each relevant object. After assigning a unique ID number to each object, we add a basic description, measure objects’ dimensions, note information about their condition and their location in storage or exhibit, and photograph each item. We also record information for object types and provenance, so future researchers can easily conduct new research with our collections. Our next goal is that all of these collections records will be available on an online database that can be accessed by the public and can be searched remotely.
Why is inventory important? Inventorying can both organize and establish a collection. In order for us to best share our collections with the public, we need to know what we have, where they are, and their current condition. An inventory helps us continue to conserve these objects with the newest and best technology available as well as exhibit, digitize, and interpret these artifacts for the public.
This inventory of our Revolutionary War collections is a particularly granular one because it will inform future research, exhibitions, and programming. Museums do more streamlined inventories regularly to ensure they maintain physical and intellectual control over their collections. Doing an inventory is just one more way we make sure that we’re taking the best care of, and providing access to, the objects which tell our shared history.
We’ll be conducting this inventory all year long and sharing more peeks into our Revolutionary War collections on social media and on our blog! Make sure you follow us on Facebook and Instagram to get the latest updates!
Want to learn more about our collections, or have something you’d like to donate? Check out our Collections Hub, which has information about our largest and most frequently accessed collections. To contact our Collections team about a donation or loan, email PatriciaR@lcmm.org.
This project to inventory, present, and research our collections in advance of the 250th anniversary of the American War of Independence is generously funded by the Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership.
3 thoughts on “Behind the Scenes: Revolutionary War Collections Inventory”
What ever happened to Liberty? The document states it arrived safe into port, but where was port, back south in Whitehall? What was the final outcome of Liberty, was it scuttled, where?
Thanks for asking, Phil! I checked with our Archaeology team and here’s their response:
Interestingly, Liberty was not present at the Battle of Valcour Island since it was away for supplies at the time. However, the vessel was captured by the British at Skeenesborough (now Whitehall) on July 6, 1777, following the colonial abandonment and retreat from Fort Ticonderoga. Liberty was then taken into British service and served on Lake Champlain until it was condemned as rotten on April 22, 1780. By 1783, the vessel was hauled up on the stocks at Saint Johns (on the Richelieu River in Canada). Records indicate Liberty was still at Saint Johns in 1789 and 1790 but was not listed again in 1807. The vessel’s final disposition is unknown, but it may have burned at Saint Johns sometime after 1790 but before 1807.
Thank you for the information. If one were to build a replica of Liberty, are there any known specifications, dimensions, or drawings from which to work from?
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