I was introduced to Ancient Egypt and mummies as a very small child, possibly around 3 or 4, when my grandfather took me to the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum in the Quadrangle in Springfield, Massachusetts. It was only a mummy case that I saw but it started me on a lifelong quest to find out as much as I could about mummies. In the 1970s, a connection was made between the outer coffins which I had seen and the Egyptian mummy Padihershef in the Ether Dome at Massachusetts General Hospital. The mummy and the coffins belonged together! This started me on a quest to find out the back stories behind Egyptian mummies in museums. It turned out there was very little published information and it was scattered, fragmentary, and sometimes inaccurate. It seems that no one knew how many of the mummies had gotten to America and what had happened to them.
I started to collect all the information I could find and the digital age opened up a treasure trove of about 20,000 (yes 2K) little snippets of information. I started the EMINA (Egyptian Mummies in North America) database in order to keep track of which mummy was which and their provenances. http://www.egyptologyforum.org/EMINA/
This eventually led to my writing a book on the history of Egyptian mummies as artifacts, Mummies in Nineteenth Century America: Ancient Egyptians as Artifacts (McFarland 2009), which then led me to creating a website companion to the book, mummymania.omeka.net.
I keep collecting information about mummies and I continually add to the database as time permits. Everywhere we go we plan trips around mummies! It is a lifetime obsession and maybe when I retire I can devote more time to it!
S. J. Wolfe is based in the USA and is the director of the EMINA project.