Tag Archives: Jobs

Unlicensed Professionals

If there is one shared belief amongst history and museum professionals it’s that we do important, if at times unrecognized, work. We’re stewards of priceless, irreplaceable collections, we engage, educate, and entertain a broad range of the population. We are keepers and sharers of culture and history. Truly important work.

At least to us.

It can be difficult to know how important we are perceived to be to the general citizenry. Attendance numbers aren’t trustworthy. Besides, every museum has a fan-base (however small) which can lead us to believe we’re relevant. History books are judged by how “important” they are, not how many copies are sold. And, for both historians and the museum professionals, there’s always the belief that it’s not us; that people just don’t get how essential we really are.

One way to gauge importance is to look at how regulated a field is. Usually that comes in the form of professional licensing. Licensing advocates argue that it protects the public interest by keeping incompetent and unscrupulous individuals from working with the public. In the rather open fields of history and museum work there is no mechanism to ensure such performance. Anyone can walk on and call themselves a historian, curator, or educator. Even the incompetent and unscrupulous.

To put it another way, there are more legal requirements for a nail technician to give French manicures than than there is for a CEO to direct a museum. In museums there are laws regarding the appropriate use of our collections and money, but there is nothing governing the professionals. In the eyes of the law, our stuff is more important than our staff.

Not a license to curate.
Source.

You might be thinking, “what about the degrees needed to get the job?” A degree in a history- or museum-related field is not a license. Employers may make it a requirement for a position, but not having it does not automatically exclude anyone from claiming and being recognized as, for example, a historian. Some museum folks might point to accreditation as such oversight. However, AASLH’s accreditation is not a license or a guarantee of staff competency. Accreditation is all about collections management and governance. It’s still about the stuff.

What does all of this mean? It may be an indication of why we are an underpaid, underappreciated field. Not enough people take history and museum work seriously or believe our contributions are important enough to their (and, as will be seen, their pets’) finances, health, safety, and sex lives to try to weed out the incompetents. But evidently these fields (licensed by the State of Illinois) are:

Acupuncture CE Sponsor, Approved

Acupuncturist, Licensed

Adv Practice Nurse Control Sub

Advance Practice Nurse

Alarm Contractor Agency Branch Office, Licensed

Alarm Contractor Agency Private, Licensed

Alarm Contractor Private, Licensed

APN CE Sponsor

Appraisal Management Companies

Appraiser, Associate Real Estate Trainee

Appraiser, Certified General Real Estate

Appraiser, Certified Residential Real Estate

Appraiser, Education Provider

Appraiser, Temporary Practice Real Estate

Architect, Licensed

Architect,Landscape, Registered

Armed Proprietary Security Force

Associate MFT

Athlete Agent, Licensed

Athletic Trainer, Licensed

Athletics

Auction CE School

Auction Firm

Auction, Internet Listing Service

Auctioneer

Audiologist, Licensed

Barber School, Licensed

Barber Teacher, Licensed

Barber, Licensed

Basic Classroom Training Course

Canine Handler Authorization Card

Canine Handler Training Course

Canine Instructor Training Course

Canine Trainer Authorization Card

Cemetery Authority, Licensed

Cemetery CE Sponsor, Licensed

Cemetery Customer Service Emp, Licensed

Cemetery Exempt, Licensed

Cemetery Manager, Licensed

Cemetery Partially Exempt, Licensed

Certified Public Accountant CPE Sponsor

Certified Public Accountant Firm

Certified Public Accountant, Licensed

Certified Public Accountant, Registered

Chiropractic Physician, Licensed

Chiropractic Preceptor

Chiropractic Preceptor Program

Chiropractor Professor, Visiting

Collection Agency Branch Office, Licensed

Collection Agency, Licensed

Community Association Manager

Controlled Substance Drug Dist, Licensed

Controlled Substance

Controlled Substance, Pharmacy, Licensed

Cosmetologist School Public, Licensed

Cosmetologist Teacher, Licensed

Cosmetologist, Licensed

Cosmetology School, Licensed

Cosmetology CE Sponsor

Counselor Clinical Professional Temporary, Licensed

Counselor Clinical Professional, Licensed

Counselor Professional Cont. Ed. Sponsor

Counselor Professional, Licensed

Counselor Professional, Temporary, Licensed

Dental Hygienist, Registered

Dental Sedation Permit

Dental Teaching License

Dental Temporary Training, Licensed

Dental/dental Approved Hygienist Cont. Ed. Sponsor

Dentist, Licensed

Dentist Controlled Substance, Licensed

Dentistry Specialist, Licensed

Design Firm Professional Registration

Detection Of Deception Examiner

Detection of Deception Trainee

Detective Private Agency Branch Office, Licensed

Detective Private Agency, Licensed

Detective Private, Licensed

Dietitian, Licensed

Drug Distributor, Licensed

Electrologist, Licensed

Engineer Intern

Engineer Professional, Licensed

Engineer Structural, Licensed

Engineer Structural, Intern

Environmental Health Practitioner In Training

Environmental Health Cont. Ed. Sponsor

Environmental Health Practitioner, Licensed

Esthetician, Licensed

Esthetics School, Licensed

Esthetics Teacher, Licensed

Euthanasia Agency, Certified

Euthanasia Technician, Certified

Fingerprint Vendor

Fingerprint Vendor Agency

Firearm Control Card

Firearm Instructor

Firearm Training Course

Funeral Director and Embalmer CE Sponsor

Funeral Director, Licensed

Funeral Director and Embalmer, Licensed

Funeral Director and Embalmer Intern, Licensed

Genetic Counselor, Licensed

Genetic Counselor, Temporary

Geologist, Professional Licensed

Hair Braider, Licensed

Hair Braiding School, Licensed

Hair Braiding Teacher, Licensed

Home Inspector

Home Inspector Education Provider

Home Inspector Entity

Home Medical Equipment & Service Provider

Interior Designer, Registered

Land Sales Developer

Land Sales Subdivision

Land Surveyor in Training

Land Surveyor, Professional, Licensed

Limited Liability Company

Loan Originator

Locksmith Agency Branch Office, Licensed

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Mail Order Ophthalmic Provider

Marriage and Family Therapist, Licensed

Marriage and Family Therapy Cont. Ed. Sponsor

Massage Therapist CE Sponsor

Massage Therapist, Licensed

Medical CE Sponsor

Medical License, Temporary

Medical Temporary License, Limited

Medical Corporation Registered

Mortgage Broker/Bank

Nail Technician School, Licensed

Nail Technician, Licensed

Nail Technology Teacher, Licensed

Naprapath CE Sponsor

Naprapath, Licensed

Nurse Practical, Licensed

Nurse Registered, Professional

Nursing Home Administrator Temporary, Licensed

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Nursing Home Approved Administrator Cont. Ed. Sponsor

Nutrition Counselor, Licensed

Nutrition/Dietitian Cont. Ed. Sponsor

Occupational Therapist

Occupational Therapy Assistant, Certified

Occupational Therapy CE Sponsor

Optometric Limited Residency License

Optometrist Ancillary Location

Optometrist, Licensed

Optometrist Controlled Substance License

Optometry Cont. Ed. Sponsor, Licensed

Original Firearms Training

Orthotist, Licensed

Osteopath, Licensed

Osteopath/Obstetrician, Licensed

Pawnbroker

Pawnshop Manager

Pedorthist, Licensed

PERC – Permanent Employee Registration

Perfusionist

Pharmacist Assistant

Pharmacist Registered

Pharmacy, Licensed

Pharmacy Technician

Physical Therapist Assistant, Licensed

Physical Therapist, Licensed

Physical Therapy, Cont. Ed. Sponsor

Physician Assistant Temporary

Physician Assistant, Licensed

Physician Permit, Visiting

Physician Professor, Visiting

Physician Resident Visiting

Physician, Licensed

Physician Asst. Controlled Substance, Licensed

Physician Controlled Substance, Licensed

Podiatric Physician, Licensed

Podiatric Physician, Temporary

Podiatric Professor, Visiting

Podiatry Cont. Ed. Sponsor

Podiatry Controlled Substance, Licensed

Private Security Contractor, Licensed

Prosthetist, Licensed

Psychological Corporation, Licensed

Psychological Partnership, Licensed

Psychologist Clinical

Qualifying Party Roofing Contractor

Real Estate Branch Office

Real Estate Broker

Real Estate Broker Corporation

Real Estate Broker Partnership

Real Estate CE Instructor

Real Estate CE School

Real Estate Leasing Agent

Real Estate Leasing Agent Student

Real Estate Limited Liability Firm

Real Estate Managing Broker

Real Estate Pre-License Instructor

Real Estate Pre-License School

Real Estate Pre-License School Branch

Real Estate Salesperson

Respiratory Care Practitioner

Respiratory Care Practitioner Cont. Ed. Sponsor

Roofing Contractor, Licensed

Security Contractor Agency Brnch Ofc, Licensed

Security Contractor Agency, Licensed

Service Corporation, Professional Registered

Sex Offender Evaluator

Sex Offender Provider, Associate

Sex Offender Treatment Provider

Shorthand Reporter Approved Cont. Ed. Sponsor

Shorthand Reporter Certified
Shorthand Reporter Restricted

Social Worker Clinical, Licensed

Social Worker Registered Cont. Ed. Sponsor

Social Worker, Licensed

Social Worker, Temporary Licensed

Speech Language Pathologist

Speech-Language Path. Assist

Speech-Language Pathology Temporary

Speech/Audiology Cont. Ed. Sponsor

Surgical Assistant

Surgical Technologist
Timeshare Acquisition Agent

Timeshare Component Site

Timeshare Developer

Timeshare Exchange Company

Timeshare Managing Entity

Timeshare Plan

Timeshare Resale Agent

Timeshare Sales Agent

Title Insurance Agent

Trainer Cont. Ed. Sponsor, Licensed

Veterinarian, Licensed

Veterinarian Controlled Substance, Licensed

Veterinary CE Programs

Veterinary Technician, Licensed


The Cynic on History

Actually By Maurice Rigoler

What the past really leaves historians.
By Andy Lendzion.

History is replete
with examples of the incomplete.
Which is why we have historians –
or should that be restorians.

Theirs is the patient art
of piecing history back together,
what men and time put apart,
with results not much better.


Disillusioned Museum Admissions Employee Doesn’t Even Believe Own Annual Membership Pitch Anymore

Actually By The Onion

NEWS IN BRIEF

MILWAUKEE—After more than nine months of enumerating for visitors the various member-only benefits and explaining how dues help support the museum’s mission to educate and inspire, disillusioned Milwaukee Art Museum employee Ashley Mizote told reporters Friday she no longer believes her own annual membership pitch. “I used to think that membership was an unbeatable value, but now I can barely get through my opening line about how an annual pass will connect visitors to the vibrant arts community without questioning the truth of it all,” said Mizote, who admitted that her voice often trails off during the part of her pitch about how members automatically receive important updates and offers via the museum’s e-newsletter. “I know the words, but I don’t feel them…

Read the Rest


Why Historians Used to Rarely Leave the Archive

Curator’s Comment: Today many historians are the ones wearing the historic clothes and, despite arguments over documentation, there’s much less blood.


A Revealing Audio Tour

'This painting was purchased on a whim by our ex-curator of drawings and paintings.'


Embracing Hug a Museum Worker Day?

SM-Hug-A-Museum-Worker-Day-June-29-2016-HAMuseumW-MUSEUMVIEWS-LOGO-300x204

Perhaps next year we can hold “Free Pie For Museum Workers Day” instead.

This past Monday, June 29th, museum workers the world over were suddenly snuggled by their usually-tranquil visitors in celebration of the first annual International Hug a Museum Worker Day (IHMWD). A special day that all museum workers got together and agreed to hold.

Except they didn’t. Because such a day, well-intentioned to be sure, is contrary to the needs of most museum people.

Many museum workers are introverts who went into museums specifically because they did not want to be near, much less touch, regular people. In fact, they often don’t want to be around their own colleagues either. Still, if they are fortunate enough to be at a museum where they appreciate their coworkers, according to most HR guidelines that appreciation must end at physical contact. So an intraoffice celebration of IHMWD is out.

As preservation experience and various training sessions have shown, direct touching is generally fraught with problems. Museum workers don’t know where most visitors have been. Such contact would send the staff into a protective tizzy – the collections folks would be occupied ensuring the collection remains unsullied, while their colleagues would be busy implementing the integrated disease prevention protocol and making sure nothing inappropriate happens.

Besides, organizing such a day presents numerous opportunities for interdepartmental antagonism. If it were left up to the collections people everyone would be sorted and arranged according to hugging style (half hug, full hug, the lingerer, the bear hugger, etc.). Educators would prefer something more random and free-choice. The PR staff would want to hug as many as possible while reminding them to tell their friends how much they enjoyed themselves. The director would want the largest donors (by check, not body size) to be hugged first.*

Perhaps most importantly, museum workers can’t cuddle up to IHMWD because they already have more work than they can reasonably handle and they simply don’t have time for hugging. However, there is always time for pie.

_________________________________________

*Alas, the day is wasted on museum security guards who want a minimum distance of 24 inches between themselves and all potential huggers.


I’ll Be Useful Later, or The Plight of the Historian in a Forward-Thinking Culture


Professor Twain’s Paleontology Lecture, Part 2

Actually By Mark Twain

Read Part 1

“A Brace of Brief Lectures on Science.” From The American Publisher, October, 1871

  1. PALEONTOLOGY CONCLUDED – PRIMEVAL MAN

This skull is very fragile, so it must be millions of years old.

My brother paleontologists have “proved” by the finding of weapons (for use in the happy hunting grounds,) side by side with the Primeval Man’s bones, that the Primeval Man was a believer in immortality. And I think they have done more than this. I think that in “proving” that he always broke the bones of animals “lengthwise” to get at the marrow, they have come near proving the Primeval Man an ass. For why should he break bones lengthwise to get at the marrow when anybody except a scientist knows that it is a deal easier to break a bone crosswise than lengthwise, and still more convenient to smash your stone down on it and let it break any way it pleases; and we all know that the marrow will taste just the same, no matter what plan of fracture you pursue. And yet nothing would suit this primeval “galoot” but lengthwise style it does not look reasonable. And I must call notice to the fact that neither the Primeval Man’s elk-horn instruments, nor his flint knife, nor yet the awe-inspiring quoit which he thought was a flint “hatchet,” could split a slippery, crooked, uneasy and vexatious bone lengthwise with facility and I have always noticed that your Primeval Man looks to convenience first. That is his way, if I know whereof I speak and if I do not, what am I a paleontologist for?

2. Somehow I cannot feel satisfied that those bears (whose bones are found mingled with those of the Primeval Man), were not the real parties that ate that marrow and also the animals that used to own it. And without nibbling at heresy any further, I may as well come out and suggest that perhaps they ate the Primeval Man himself. Here is a pile of bones of primeval man and beast all mixed up together, with no more damning evidence that the man ate the bears than that the bears ate the man yet paleontology holds a coroner’s inquest here in the fifth geologic period on an “unpleasantness” which transpired in the quaternary, and calmly lays it on the MAN, and then adds to it what it purports to be evidence of CANNABALISM. I ask the candid reader, Does not this look like taking advantage of a gentleman who has been dead two million years, and whose surviving friends and relatives――. But the subject is too painful. Are we to have another Byron-scandal case? Here are savage ways and atrocious appetites attributed to the dead and helpless Primeval Man have we any assurance that the same hand will not fling mud at the Primeval Man’s mother, next?

3. Again. Is there anything really so surprising about the absence of the marrow from bones a few hundred thousand years old as to make it worth while to sit up nights trying to figure out how it came to be absent? Now is there, considering that there are so many good chances that Age, Worms and Decay got the marrow?

4. If the student should ask why paleontologists call the Primeval Man a cannibal, I should answer that it was because they find tooth-marks on primeval children’s bones which they “recognize as the marks of human teeth.” If the student should ask why paleontologists assert that primeval hyenas gnawed the bones of roasted animals after the Primeval Man had finished his meal, I should answer that they find teeth-marks upon said bones which they “recognize as hyena teeth-marks.” If the student should ask me how the paleontologist tells the difference between hyena and human teeth-marks on a bone, and particularly a bone which has been rotting in a cave since the everlasting hills were builded, I should answer that I don’t know.

A man could leave a sort of tooth-mark (till decay set in,) in any fleshy substance that might remain sticking in a bone, but that he could make a tooth-mark on the bone itself I am obliged to question. Let the earnest student try to bite the handle of his tooth-brush and see if he can leave an autograph that will defy the ages. Aha! Where are you now!

5. The frivolous are apt to take notice of a certain paleontological custom, which, not understanding, they take to be proper prey for their wit. I refer to the common paleontological custom of “proving” the vast age of primeval bones by their “extreme fragility,” and then accounting for their wonderful preservation by the fact that they were “petrified and fossilized by deposits of calcareous salts.” If cavilers had brains enough to comprehend this, they would not cavil so much about it.

6. In the celebrated paleontological “cave of Aurignac” were found bones of primeval men, woolly elephants, huge bears and elks and wolves of a singular pattern, and also bones of the august mastodon. What do my fellow paleontologists call that place? A “primeval graveyard.” Why? Why graveyard? Reader, I have looked carefully into this matter and discovered the significant fact that they never found a single tomb-stone. Nor any sign of a grave. Then why call it a graveyard? Does a tangled mess of of bones of men and beasts necessarily constitute a graveyard? I would not disturb any man’s faith in the primeval cemetery, though, merely to hear myself talk. I have opened the subject for a nobler purpose to give the paleontological student’s faith a new direction and worthier one. I have investigated the evidences and now feel tolerably satisfied that the contents of the cave of Aurignac are not the remains of a primeval graveyard, but of a primeval menagerie. I ask the intelligent reader if it is likely that such rare creatures as a woolly elephant, a mastodon, and those huge and peculiar bears, wolves, etc., would simply happen together, along with a man or two, in a comfortable, roomy cave, with a small, low door, just suited to the admission of single files of country people, to say nothing of children and servants at half price? I simply ask the candid reader that question and let him sweat as the historian Josephus used to say. If I should be asked for further suggestions in support of my hypothesis, I should hazard the thought that the treasurer of the menagerie was guilty of a hideous general massacre, while the proprietor and the beasts were asleep, and that his object was robbery. It is admitted by nearly one-sixth of all the paleontologists [observe the unusual unanimity] that the first part of the quaternary period must have been an uncommonly good season for public exhibitions and in this one fact alone you have almost a confirmation of the criminal motive attributed to the treasurer. If I am asked for final and incontrovertible proof of my position, I point to the significant fact that the bones of the treasurer have never been found, and THE CASH BOX IS GONE. It is enough to make one’s hair stand on end.

I desire nothing more than my dues. If I have thrown any light on the mystery of the cave of Aurignac, I desire that it shall be acknowledged if I have not, I desire that it may be as though I had never spoken.

7. As concerns the proud paleontological trophy, the “flint hatchet” and its companion the “flint knife,” I am compelled again to differ with the other scientists. I cannot think that the so-called “flint knife” is a knife at all. I cannot disabuse my mind of the impression that it is a file. No knife ever had such a scandalous blade as that. If asked by scholars of the established faith what the Primeval Man could want with a file, I should, with customary paleontological diplomacy, ask what he could want with such a knife? Because he might file something with that thing, but I will hang if he could ever cut anything with it.

8. And as for the oval shaped flint which stands for the lauded primeval “hatchet,” I cannot rid myself of the idea that it was only a paper-weight. If incensed brother-paleontologists storm at me and say the Primeval Man had no paper, I shall say calmly, “As long as it was nobody’s business but his own, couldn’t he carry his paper-weight around till he got some?”

But there is nothing intractable about me. If gentlemen wish to compromise and call it a petrified hoecake, or anything in reason, I am agreeable; for the Primeval Man had to have food, and might have had hoecakes, but he didn’t have to have a flint “hatchet” like this thing, which he could not even cut his butter with without mashing it.

If any one should find fault with any arguments used by me in the course of the above chapter, and say that I jump to a conclusion over so much ground that the feat is in a manner ungraceful; and if he should say further, that in establishing one paleontological position of mine I generally demolish another, I would answer that these things are inseparable from scientific investigation. We all do it all scientists. No one can regret it more than we do ourselves, but there really seems to be no remedy for it. First we had to recede from our assertion that a certain fossil was a primeval man, because afterward when we had found multitudes of saurians and had grown glib and facile in descanting upon them, we found that that other creature was of the same species. What could we do? It was too big a job to turn a thousand saurians into primeval men, and so we turned the solitary primeval man into a saurian. It was the cheapest way. And so it has always been with us. Every time we get a chance to assert something, we have to take back something. When we announced and established the great discovery of the “Glacial Period,” how we did have to cart the dead animals around! Because, do not you see, the indiscriminate sort of distribution of fossil species which we had accommodated to the characteristic action of a general flood would not answer for a nicely discriminating “glacial period” which ought to transport not only walruses, white bears, and other frigid creatures, from the North Pole down into Africa and not meddle with any other kind of animals. Well, we had only got the several species of fossil animals located to “back up” the “glacial period” when here comes some idiot down from Behring’s Strait with a fossil elephant a hundred thousand years old! Of course we had to go to work and account for him. You see how it is. Science is as sorry as you are that this year’s science is no more like last year’s science than last year’s was like the science of twenty years gone by. But science cannot help it. Science is full of change. Science is progressive and eternal. The scientists of twenty years ago laughed at the ignorant men who had groped in the intellectual darkness of twenty years before.

We derive pleasure from laughing at them. We have accounted for that elephant, at last, on the hypothesis that when he was alive Alaska was in the tropics. Twenty or thirty years from now the new crop of paleontologists will be just as likely as not to find an elephant and a petrified iceberg roosting in the same quaternary cave together up there in Alaska, and if they do, down we go, with our tropical theory, that is all.


Professor Twain’s Paleontology Lecture, Part 1

Actually By Mark Twain

“A Brace of Brief Lectures on Science.” From The American Publisher, September, 1871

  1. PALEONTOLOGY

What a noble science is paleontology! And what really startling sagacity its votaries exhibit!

Click here for Prof. Twain’s scientific and research credentials.

Immediately after the Nathan murder, twenty practiced detectives went and viewed the dead body; examined the marks on the throat and on the head; followed the bloody tracks; looked at the bloody clothes, the broken safe, and the curious, unusual, mysterious “dog.” They took note of the stolen diamond studs and set a watch on the pawnbrokers, and they set watches upon all known thieves and housebreakers, and upon their fast women. They had the detectives of all the wide world to help them watch and work, and the telegraph to facilitate communication. They had the testimony of fifty witnesses in point and conveniently at hand for reference, a knowledge of everything that transpired about the Nathan mansion during the entire eventful night with the exception of the single hour during which the murder was committed. Thus we perceive that the mystery was narrowed down to a very small compass, and the clues and helps were abundant and excellent. Yet what is the result? The “dog” has told no tales, the bloody tracks have led no whither, the murderer has not been found. Why, it is not even known whether there was one murderer, or twenty or whether men or women did the deed – or how entrance was gained to the house or how exit was accomplished!

The reader perceives how illiterate detectives can blunder along, with whole volumes of clues to guide them, and yet achieve nothing. Now let me show him what “science” can do. Let me show what might have been done if New York had been intelligent enough to employ one deep paleontologist in the work instead of a dozen detectives. Let me demonstrate that with no other clue than one small splinter off that “iron dog,” or a gill of the water the bloody shirt was washed in, any cultivated paleontologist would have walked right off and fetched you that murderer with as unerring certainty as he would take a fragment of an unknown bone and build you the animal it used to belong to, and tell you which end his tail was on and what he preferred for dinner.

In this lesson I will treat only of one subject of paleontological “research” PRIMEVAL MAN. Geology has revealed the fact that the crust of the earth is composed of five layers or strata. We exist on the surface of the fifth. Geology teaches, with scientific accuracy, that each of these layers was from ten thousand to two million years forming or cooling. [A disagreement as to a few hundred thousand years is a matter of little consequence to science.] The layer immediately under our layer, is the fourth or “quaternary”; under that is the third, or tertiary, etc. Each of these layers had its peculiar animal and vegetable life, and when each layer’s mission was done, it and its animals and vegetables ceased from their labors and were forever buried under the new layer, with its new-shaped and new fangled animals and vegetables. So far, so good. Now the geologists Thompson, Johnson, Jones and Ferguson state that our own layer has been ten thousand years forming. The geologists Herkimer, Hildebrand, Boggs and Walker all claim that our layer has been four hundred thousand years forming. Other geologists just as reliable, maintain that our layer had been from one to two million years forming. Thus we have a concise and satisfactory idea of how long our layer has been growing and accumulating.

That is sufficient geology for our present purpose. The paleontologists Hooker, Baker, Slocum and Hughes claim that Primeval Man existed during the quaternary period consequently he existed as much as ten thousand, and possible two million, years ago. The paleontologists Howard, Perkins, de Warren and Von Hawkins assert that Primeval Man existed as far back as the tertiary period and consequently he walked the earth at a time so remote that if you strung ciphers after a unit till there were enough to answer for a necklace for a mastodon you could not adequately represent the billions of centuries ago it happened. Now, you perceive, we begin to cramp this part of our subject into a corner where we can grasp it, as it were, and contemplate it intelligently. Let us “for a flier,” as the learned Von Humboldt phrases it consider that this Primeval Man transpired eight or nine hundred thousand years ago, and not day before yesterday, like the Nathan murder. What do we know of him, and how do we find it out? Listen, while I reduce the “revelations” of paleontology to a few paragraphs:

1. Primeval Man existed in the quaternary period – because his bones are found in caves along bones of now extinct animals of that period such as the “cave-hyena,” the mammoth, etc.

2. The incredible antiquity of the Primeval Man’s bones is further proven by their extreme “fragility.” No bones under a million years old “could be so fragile.” [I quote strictly from the scientific authorities.] The reason royal skeletons in Westminster crumble to dust when exposed, although only a trifling eight hundred years old, is because they are shut up in leaden coffins, I suppose. Bones do not keep good in coffins. There is no sure way but to cord them up in caves. Paleontology reveals that they will then last you a million years without any inconvenience.

3. The Primeval Man possessed weapons because along with his bones are found rude chips and flakes of flint that the paleontologist knows very well were regarded as knives by the Primeval Man; and also flints of a rude oval shape that in his pretty simplicity he regarded as “hatchets.” These things have been found in vast quantities with his bones.

4. The Primeval Man “wore clothes” – because, along with his bones have been found skeletons of the reindeer, “with marks still visible about the base of the horns, such as are made in our day when we cut there to loosen the hide in order to skin the animal.” Could this paleontologist find the Nathan murderer? Undoubtedly he could. The ignorant need not say that possibly the Primeval Man wore no clothes, but wanted the hide for a tent, or for bow-strings, or lassos, or beds, or to trade off for glass beads and whisky. The paleontologist knows what he wanted with the hide.

5. The Primeval Man had not only inventive powers and gropings toward civilization, as evidenced by his contriving and manufacturing flint hatchets and knives and wearing clothes, but he also had marked and unmistakable “art” inspirations because, along with his bones have been found figures scratched on bone, vaguely suggestive of possible fishes; and a boar’s tooth rudely carved into the shape of a bird’s head, and “with a hole in it to enable him to hang it around his neck.” [I quote from authority.] I ask, could this person discover the Nathan murderer?

6. The Primeval Man “eat his wild game roasted” because, “along with his bones are found the bones of wild animals which seem to have been scorched” some millions of years ago.

7. The Primeval Man was “passionately fond of marrow” [I still quote from the scientific authorities,] because, along with his bones have been found animal bones broken lengthwise, “which shows that they had been thus broken to extract the marrow, of which our primitive forefathers were inordinately fond,” says the “Paleontological Investigations.” Could this man read the secrets of an iron dog and a bloody shirt, or could he not?

8. The Primeval Man was – a – cannibal! because, in Italy, and also in Scotland, along with his bones have been found children’s bones which had, “first been carefully cleansed and emptied to satisfy the inordinate taste for marrow, and then gnawed.” (!) This is horrible, but true. Let not the ignorant say that a dog might have done this gnawing, for paleontology has looked into that and decided that

9. The Primeval Man had no dog because “there is no trace of dogs having been domesticated then.” Which settles that point.

10. The Primeval Hyena gnawed bones, however because paleontology proves that “the marks on some bones found in France were not made by dog, human, cat,or mastodon teeth, but by the teeth of a hyena.” And paleontology is aware that the hyena gnawed the bones “after the Primeval Man” was done with them which was clever, but paleontology keeps the reasons for knowing this a scientific secret.

11. Primeval Man has graveyards “because, along with great quantities of roasted and gnawed bones of primeval animals, have been found quantities of human bones and flint weapons.” And it is a precious privilege to live in an epoch of paleontologists, for the uneducated investigator would not be able to tell a primeval graveyard from a primeval restaurant.

12. The Primeval Man always had a banquet and a good time after a funeral because, down the hill a little way from his graveyard (there is only one on record,) “a bed of ashes was unearthed.” Von Rosenstein and some others say the banquet occurred before the funeral, but most paleontologists agree that is was nearly a week after the obsequies.

13. Primeval Man “made his flint knives and hatchets with a stone hammer” and an English paleontologist has “proved” this, and overwhelmed all cavilers with confusion, and won thunders of applause and incalculable gratitude from his fellow-scientists by actually making a flint hatchet with a stone hammer. The fact that these weapons are so independent in form that if a man chipped a piece of flint with his eyes shut the result would infallibly be a primeval flint knife or a flint hatchet, one or the other, in spite of him, has got nothing to do with the matter. If cavilers say that the fact that we could carve our bread with an axe is no sign that we do carve it with an axe, I simply say that such an argument begs the question, inasmuch as it applies to the present time, whereas the science of paleontology only treats of matters of remote antiquity.

Now I come to the most marvellous “revelation” of all the most unexpected, the most surprising, the most gratifying. It is this. Paleontology has discovered that

14. “THE PRIMEVAL MAN BELIEVED IN IMMORTALITY!” because, “else why did he bury those huge quantities of flint hatchets and other weapons with his dead, just as all savages do who desire to provide the loved and lost with means of amusement and subsistence in the happy hunting grounds of eternity?” Aha! What saith the caviler now? Poor purblind croaker, in this grand and awful evidence of the Primeval Man’s belief in the immortality of his soul, you would find only evidence that the primeval cemetery, the primeval restaurant and the primeval arsenal were purposely compacted into the same premises to save rent. Idiot!

The lesson is ended. Do you see, now, how simple and easy “science” makes a thing? Do you see how

Some animal bones, split, scratched and scorched; located in quaternary ground;

Some full sized human bones with them and very “fragile”;

Some small bones, marrowless and scratched;

Some flints of several uncertain shapes;

Some rude scratchings and carvings, done possible by design;

Some deer horns, scratched at their bases; An ash-pile;

The absence of dog-tracks;

Do you see how these clues and “evidences” are all the materials the science of paleontology needs in order to give the world the wonder of a

Primeval Man;

And not only that but tell you what was the particular period he lived in;

What weapons he carried;

What kind of clothes he wore;

What his art predilections and capacities were;

What he made his weapons with;

What his funeral customs were;

What part of a bear or a child he preferred for breakfast;

What animal got the remains of his feasts, and what animal didn’t;

And, finally, what the foundation and corner-stone of the religion of the lost and lamented old antediluvian commander-in-chief of all the fossils, was!

What a crying pity it is that the Nathan murder was not committed two million years ago- for I do so want to know all about it.

[Some of my own paleontological deductions differing is some respects from those of other paleontological authorities, I reserve them for expression in another chapter on “Science,” which will appear next month.]

Next Week Part 2


Serious Thoughts For a New Year

Lest we museum professionals begin the new year with old thinking…

Not long ago we met with a veteran museum professional who has spent a decades-long career as an interpreter. He was described as having a deep love of history, which is why we were meeting. We had content questions and we were told he could answer some of them.

Our excitment at meeting him, however, quickly turned to regret. The last thing he wanted to talk about was history. Instead he lamented that his museum’s management did not value history, which was to say he felt they didn’t value him or his interests. He was angry and his anger warmed his soliloquies and fired his eagerness for his approaching retirement. It was a long, loud day.

Now we could easily turn this experience into a comical essay, having a little fun at the expense of both the management and the interpeter. This could include a vignette about the interpreter, who we observed in action doing his level best not to excite visitors about his beloved history by being boring.

We could do all of that, but we won’t. Not because it wouldn’t be easy to (it would), but because anger and burnout are real and present dangers in the field. It is so easy to think your contributions go unheeded, especially for those of us in the interpretive and content side of museum work. If for no other reason, it happens because we tend to sound more like spenders than earners, which always endears us to management.

Listen to me.

To help our remaining colleagues navigate these dark and stormy waters, we at the Hysterical Society thought we would share a bit of wisdom from Alan Alda, himself a dedicated and thoughtful artist and whose movie Sweet Liberty was one of the insipirations for the Hysterical Society’s creation. Clearly we think he’s worth listening to. While on Inside the Actors Studio he said:

It’s very tough, you gotta know that, because the people you deal with are going to be in business for themselves. They’re not going to be in your business… you’re spending a lot of time here learning how to be artists. You’re going to go into a world where art is valued as something bought and sold. You can lend them your talent, don’t give them your soul. You can rent out your ability, but keep looking for ways to do what you started out wanting to do. It’s very hard to find those ways. Don’t stop.

We think there are some wonderful ideas in there to help prevent, or at least retard, burnout – that you should not let the business side overwhelm everything else, that you should only lend your abilities, and that you should vigilantly pursue what you love.

So please start 2015 out right, heed Mr. Alda and stop wasting your colleagues’ time with your bitching.

Happy New Year!


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