History Colorado's incomparable collections—from books and manuscripts to artifacts and photographs—encapsulate the rich history of this state and help us understand the present in the context of the past.
You can extend the life of your family’s papers, photographs, and heirlooms by following basic guidelines for care and storage. Here are some sources for more information on how to care for your collections.
The attack on Pearl Harbor of December 7, 1941, shocked the US into World War II. For the servicemen stationed in Hawaii, it was a Sunday unlike any they’d ever seen. Seventy-six years later it’s difficult for us to really know what it was like to be there, to put ourselves into the shoes of the brave men and women who lived through that day and the resulting war in the Pacific.
Most museums have a collection management policy. These are generally board-approved documents that outline how collection items are to be acquired and documented; managed, cared for, and used; and, if appropriate, “deaccessioned” or permanently removed from the collection.
Over one hundred years ago, Margaret Gessing, a model for the Daniels and Fisher department store, was widely known as Denver’s most beautiful model. She not only modeled for individual customers and in fashion shows, but also was in high demand by newspaper photographers for fashion-page articles. After Margaret married a well-known and colorful mortician, Joseph E. Bona, they had a reputation for hosting great parties. Her story involves a number of notable, historic buildings of Denver's past.
William Henry Jackson is one of the American West’s best-known photographers, and History Colorado is fortunate to hold a large portion of his photographic oeuvre as well as a manuscript collection (MSS #341) containing correspondence, diaries, and other records of Jackson’s remarkable life. One of the more unusual items in our Jackson manuscript collection is a full report of a phrenological examination performed on Jackson when he was 18 years old by “Professor” O.S. Fowler. The pseudoscience of phrenology was popular in the 19th century and posited that the size and shape of a person’s head revealed information about that individual’s personality, character, and capabilities. While the practice has been thoroughly debunked, Fowler at least seems to have hit on something when he described Jackson’s capacity for artistic genius.
Over the last year, there’s been a lot of activity between our Pueblo and Denver storage locations. History Colorado is nearing completion of a Museums for America Collections Stewardship grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to hire temporary staff and moving services to move collections from Pueblo to Denver.
Imagine that your grandfather was a San Francisco ferryboat captain who transported the notorious gangster Al Capone to Alcatraz Island, and that, as a memento of the occasion, he quietly pocketed the key to Capone’s handcuffs. Now imagine that this small key—this tiny piece of history—stayed in your family for a few generations, until one day you got the idea that perhaps it should be rescued from your sock drawer and sent to a museum somewhere. But where should it go? Is there a museum for keys?
The first automobile appeared in Louisville, Colorado in 1904. The year the first Denver resident bought a car is not known. But, the first trip by automobile from Morrison to the top of Mount Falcon, an elevation change of over 2,000 feet, took place in 1910.