Hello everyone! I’m Caroline, the intern to The Derby Museum’s curator, Chris Goodlett. My internship has been an excellent experience for me and is preparing me well for grad school next year (I’m heading to Scotland for museum and gallery studies!) Working with Chris, I have had the opportunity to accompany him on visits for acquiring some very interesting objects for the museum. We’ve been to a toy collector's house to obtain a Derby board game from the 1950s, and we’ve made a trip to Lexington for Secretariat items donated to the museum by a lady who works in the racing industry. I was made aware that the stories behind the pieces we have in our archives are as important and interesting as the pieces themselves while talking to the lady about how she had obtained the pieces and about her experiences with Penny Chenery and Eddie Sweat.
Throughout my internship, I’ve been working on cataloging the Bill Shoemaker Collection donated to us by his daughter. I can’t believe how extensive the collection is! It ranges from the items you would expect to see (trophies and his racing memorabilia) to the most mundane of items (duffel bags, home videos, and even Shoemaker’s underwear.) I have cataloged these items for the past few months. After working with candid photos of Shoemaker with his family, looking at his photos, posters and advertisements, seeing the trophies he won and awards he received for his charitable contributions, I feel like I have really come to know Willie Shoemaker.
Each piece individually is quite impressive, but looking at the collection as a whole, I’ve learned so much about "The Shoe" and what an impact his career had on the racing industry. Each artifact has a story to tell, and after working with hundreds of items, all the bits and pieces of his personal life and career that I have seen have come together to create a tapestry of William Shoemaker's life. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to work with his collection and to have played a minor role in the temporary Shoemaker exhibit that is about to go up. I look forward to being able to share the collection with you all so you can come to know Shoemaker as I have, and I hope to see you at the museum!