History Colorado staff and other writers chronicle the latest preservation success stories, share new perspectives on the past, and peer behind the scenes into the care and documentation of our collections. Read on to learn about how rare collections of historic artifacts and photographs are stored, cared for, and put on view. Find out what Colorado communities are doing to preserve their past for future generations. And, read in-depth histories of Colorado people and events of the past that still matter to us today.
Watchman Badge No. 1 is a hand-engraved shield cut and shaped from a sheet of German silver. Sometimes called nickel silver, German silver is an alloy (or combination) of copper, nickel, and zinc. The badge has a blanket–style safety pin soldered to its back. Unfortunately, it has no markings to tell us who made it, not to mention where, or when it was manufactured. But we do know it belonged to one of Denver’s first policemen, Eleazar L. Gardner.
In our last blog, Leigh and I wrote about our adventure with a mincemeat pie recipe from a cookbook distributed by the Morey Mercantile of Denver. What we didn’t tell you is how we came to know and appreciate the Morey Mercantile - and how our findings led to a new exhibit opening in advance of the upcoming major traveling exhibition, Food: Our Global Kitchen.
A recent project tied to food (the History Colorado Center exhibit, Food: Our Global Kitchen, opening Memorial Day) inspired my colleague, Leigh Jeremias, and I to try making a traditional fruit pie. Researching cookbooks in our collection, we encountered this fruit pie again and again. As we started asking friends and family about it, a certain age group always spoke of this fruit pie with fondness and nostalgia. Believe it or not, the fruit pie I’m referring to is known as mincemeat or mock mincemeat pie. But don’t let the name scare you, because the end of this curious adventure turns out well.
Students are weaving fashion and history together in a unique project involving the Fashion Merchandising and Retail Marketing program at Johnson & Wales University's Denver campus and the History Colorado education department’s fashion collection. Working with historic garments from the 1860s to the 1950s—including menswear, children’s clothes, and Colorado First Ladies’ dresses—students will write two-part blogs about a select garment, recording its time period, elements specific to its era, its wearers, when it would be worn, and other interesting information. Students will write research papers about how their garment influenced styles of the last fifty years and how it translates to the twenty-first century. They’ll also include the silhouette, fiber and color, fabrication details, and the garment’s symbolism. The project’s goal is to have the students identify and analyze the psychological, social, aesthetic, economic, technological, religious, and geographic factors that influence dress.
It’s that time of year again. Time to dust off those favorite holiday recipes—the ones you only make once a year. Maybe it’s Grandma Ferguson’s sticky buns or Great Aunt Ethel’s sugar cookies. But maybe you’re the type to seek out a new recipe every year. I fall somewhere in the middle. I have some personal family favorites passed down through generations but I’m always looking for new recipes. As luck would have it, I recently came across an eggnog recipe in History Colorado’s collection (Photo: Eva Dennis's cookbook, R.25.2009).
Leading up to the November opening of Living West, collections and curatorial staff made sure many of History Colorado’s most treasured artifacts were ready for display. Several pieces from our world-class Mesa Verde collection are now on view, including ceramics and basketry that are more than 500 years old. Artifacts may require repairs, cleaning, or other treatments to be safe and look their best for exhibit, so checking item conditions is a crucial part of the process. We must also compare conditions before and after the exhibit to make sure items are not harmed as a result of being on display.
In 1990, when the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) was passed, the Act required museums to compile and report summaries of unassociated funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony by November 16, 1993 to potentially affiliated tribes and the National Park Service (NPS).