The Colorado's Most Significant Artifacts program highlights the importance of historic and cultural heritage and honors and recognizes all the organizations in Colorado that care for and preserve photographs, documents, rare books and manuscripts, audio recordings, film, digital materials, art, and historic, archaeological and natural science specimens.
Stay tuned for 2020's call for nominations in late spring 2020.
Placed atop peaks by the Colorado Mountain Club, these summit registers record the names of people who climbed Colorado's mountains. They date to the early 1900s and document the rise in popularity of climbing as a sport and the Colorado mountains themselves as a tourist destination. The registers include receipts, scraps of paper, and even a few draft cards that climbers used when no provided official register was found.
From Lyons, Colorado, Charles P. Swift worked for the National Park Service in Rocky Mountain National Park, joined the CCC in 1936, then enlisted in the Navy and was stationed on the USS Phelps as a radioman at Pearl Harbor in 1941. His clear and detailed wartime diary chronicles his life aboard the destroyer through September 1942 as well as action in the Coral Sea, Midway, Guadalcanal, Tulagi, and the Solomon Islands.
This large wooden trunk is a piece of heavy projection equipment required to show slide presentations on the road to audiences in the early to mid 1900s. Lugging his stereopticon projector and hand-colored lantern slides, Eben G. Fine traveled thousands of miles by train and automobile to promote tourism and the natural beauty of Colorado around the country, making more than 3,500 of his famous appearances along the way.
When southern Colorado and northern New Mexico were under Mexican rule between 1821 and 1848, Governor Manuel Armijo issued several land grants. These documents, issued by Governor Armijo, mark the transfer of land and transition of cultures from Mexico to territorial Colorado and statehood in the 19th century. One such grant that affected Pueblo was the Nolan Land Grant, awarded to Gervacio Nolan in 1843.
This scrapbook documents Martha A. Bushnell Conine's career as a social reform activist who began her work in Denver women’s groups, was elected as a nonpartisan candidate to the state House of Representatives in 1896, and went on to play a major role in the national suffrage movement. This scrapbook provides a glimpse into how she and her contemporaries effected social change in Colorado in the late 1890s and early 1900s.
This ledger details the first patients admitted to National Jewish Hospital starting in 1899, giving particulars about each person who applied for admission—including country of origin, address, religion, age, sex, and profession. It provides a comprehensive snapshot of a Colorado tuberculosis patient population while highlighting the birth of one of Denver’s oldest hospitals and the seeds of philanthropy, science, and medicine.
Lucile Berkeley Buchanan Jones wore these shoes—made for her 1926 wedding—to countless other events. They reflect her black middle-class status and, paired with her bobbed hair and low necklines, her feminism. Jones’ life story provides insight into critical issues such as slavery, social mobility, racism, and oppression, illustrating what people of color have experienced throughout history and continue to experience today.
This 1908 stagecoach was one of the last used in northwest Colorado before the railroad was extended into Steamboat Springs. This well-preserved artifact represents how rough early transportation in rural parts of the state could be. Passengers paid $6.50 to board the wagon, which was pulled by four to six horses over treacherous, dangerous terrain—a two-day, 74-mile journey over two passes with an overnight stop in Yampa.
The Molly Brown House Museum enhances Denver’s unique identity by telling the story of Margaret “Molly” Brown’s activism, philanthropy, and passion. Not only does the house at 1340 Pennsylvania Street symbolize the influential Margaret Brown, but it serves as an example of a brief period of building in Denver just prior to the silver crash of 1893, when Colorado’s economy thrived from the recent mineral wealth of the 1880s.
Established in 1910, Dearfield was envisioned as a self-sufficient agricultural community for African Americans following the principles of Booker T. Washington's "go back to the land" movement. This poster represents the dreams and aspirations of Colorado's African American community in the early 20th century. Although the town only lasted a short while, the dream of Dearfield still speaks to a desire to build better, more just communities.