Hello and thank you for visiting "The Digital Vault". This website serves to function as a digital database and narrative of Valley Forge National Historical Park's George C. Neumann Collection of (mostly) seventeenth and eighteenth century military weapons, arms, and accouterments. It is also my final project for a Temple University graduate course, "Digital History with a Public History Focus", held during the Spring 2014 semester.
In June 2013, I began an internship at Valley Forge National Historical Park as a member of the Museum Services Department. When I was introduced to the Neumann Collection, I was immediately astonished at its size and scope - I had never seen so many Colonial and Revolutionary-era military objects in my life in one place. The prospect of learning important public history principles (such as preservation and interpretation) by assisting in the curation of this collection thrilled me. Today, I continue to volunteer at Valley Forge with day-to-day activities, but that same excitement I experienced during my first interaction with the collection continues to this day. It is a collection that is, by and large, among the very best in the nation.
Unfortunately, few even know this collection exists. Limited space at the Valley Forge NHP Visitor Center does not allow park staff to display or rotate many of the items, and thus the treasures of the Neumann collection remain locked and preserved behind closed doors, viewed on rare occasion by people who schedule vault tours or by researchers. I asked myself "What if there were a way to promote the Neumann Collection to more people in order to increase their knowledge of the period and to hopefully increase foot traffic at Valley Forge NHP?" I realized this could be accomplished through digital presentation of the Neumann Collection on the internet. With the proper permissions, I was permitted the use of park photographs of the Neumann Collection for my final project in Digital History with a Public History Focus. Site visitors will find details of each item and an applicable description.
Of course, this project would not have been possible without help from a few special individuals. I cannot thank Dona McDermott enough for her allowing me to use park photographs and access to the Neumann Collection when I am at the park. Her experience and willingness to teach have increased my zeal for and desire to interact with collections such as these. Stephanie Loeb helped in the promotion of this project on the Valley Forge NHP website (http://www.nps.gov/vafo/index.htm) and social media. Without her, this website would probably be a small needle in an ever-expanding stack of needles. (IE the internet). Mark Truex assisted with the collection of the musket and rifle descriptions and also digitized the proof mark images. This expediated the production of this project and allowed me to focus similar efforts on other areas of the website. Time is a precious thing and Mark saved a lot of time for me. Lastly, although I never met him, I would like to dedicate the site to the late George C. Neumann, who passed away during the creation of this project. Without him we would not have this unmatched collection of objects and treasures. His collection has expanded the understanding of and interest in Colonial and Revolutionary-era military affairs.
-Matthew D. Albertson, April 4, 2014