The Magic Objects Card Index

The old “magic objects” card index at Finland’s National Museum in Helsinki form a collection of over 300 objects used in folk magic.  The index was initiated in the early 20th century and it is not updated any more. Thus, it forms a closed collection of objects that have been acquired in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The objects are organized according to the location where they originate. Most of the cards are hand-written and they include the catalogue number, a short description of the object, and often a black-and-white photo of it.

Figure: Rock crystal
This index card shows a piece of rock crystal that has been used to ensure good growth with the crops. National Museum of Finland.

Even though this type of index is now quite outdated, it has been a valuable reference for this study. All of the old objects have not yet been transferred into digital catalogues and information may be missing of those that have been digitized. Thus searching a digital database is not yet as easy as going through these tangible cards in the researchers’ space of the museum. It is then easy to look up additional information recorded in the proper catalogue for each object.

Figure: Card index
Even though an outdated form of register, the old magic objects card index of the National Museum in Finland is very useful for this project.

During this project, I have copied the information on the cards and catalogue into the project’s database. I will add all new information about the objects revealed during the study in it as well. At the end of the project, all new information will be given to the museum for the benefit of building exhibitions and future research.

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