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.
We're now accepting guest contributions to our blog! We are especially seeking stories of underrepresented people and places across our state. Email hello at historycolorado.org to learn more.
Note: Photographs in blog articles are from the History Colorado collection unless credited otherwise. To inquire about digital copies or permissions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Views expressed in and completeness of articles written by guest contributors do not necessarily represent History Colorado.
It was the summer of 1971, and I had just turned seven years old. My dad was an electrical engineer who specialized in industrial construction projects, and we would follow him to live wherever the jobs took us. For this project we had moved from Ohio to Georgetown, South Carolina. We actually lived at nearby Litchfield beach in a beach house – definitely fun, but pretty cold in the winter. Now my parents raised their children (two boys and one girl) to be color blind with regard to race, and for this I am eternally grateful to them. I don’t recall them ever saying a negative word about a person or group of people based on the color of their skin – or for any other reason. So imagine their challenges moving to the South in the middle of the Civil Rights movement.
Here’s a tip: photos hate basements and attics. Photographs are finicky objects and sensitive to myriad contaminants, but most especially light, pests and fluctuating temperatures and relative humidity. These four elements alone can rapidly deteriorate your photographs if not controlled. Fortunately, there are some simple, cost-effective ways to protect your family photos.
It’s with an eye to that very question that we’re hosting the traveling exhibit RACE: Are We So Different? at the History Colorado Center from September 20 through January 4. RACE, developed by the American Anthropological Association in collaboration with the Science Museum of Minnesota, takes a thought-provoking look at race—and racism—in the United States through interactives, historic artifacts, compelling photographs and a wealth of media; and we at History Colorado are putting our state in the picture.
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.