Creating Family Archives, Part One

Post written by Jenny Hannifin, Archive Assistant.

Creating Family Archives, Part One

Primary sources – letters, emails, photos, scrapbooks, programs, pamphlets, dance cards, etc. – reveal wonders, and preserving and organizing them is a forever-gift. When you decide to create personal archives, you are committing to a rewarding and valuable task.

But how do you get started?

Margot Note recently published a book called Creating Family Archives: A Step‐by‐Step Guide for Saving Your Memories for Future Generations published by the Society of American Archivists. You can find details about the book here. Margot Note is an archives and records management consultant in New York, and a professor in the graduate Women’s History program at Sarah Lawrence College.

In this blog I will summarize some guiding concepts from Margot’s book to help you get you started.

What are your goals?

Personal archives can capture many things. Are you interested in storytelling and preserving memories? Are you hoping to create an instrument of legitimacy (like genealogical evidence), or to document someone’s specific legacy? Do you want to highlight the roots of your self-identification and cultural values? Is it an institution you want to document, perhaps one you were intimately involved in?

The more you conceptualize the final product, the easier it will be to devise the steps required to get there. Each of the goals listed above would have a different approach to saving, processing, and preserving materials.

What do you save?

There are three archival principles that can guide you in deciding what to save: that the item is original, reflects daily life/lives, and is of enduring value.

Original means there is just one copy of it, and it doesn’t exist anywhere else.

Reflecting daily life/lives means that it initially began life as a record of some sort and wasn’t created with the public in mind (like published materials).

Enduring value is probably the hardest to determine. In short, it means “value as evidence,” or “a source for historical research;” something that has value AFTER the creator has finished with it. Note says “For organizations, for example, only about 5 percent of records created in the course of business have enduring (archival) value. The same may be said of the records that you and your family create in the course of your lives. Among the receipts, invoices, notes, and selfies you take or receive during your lifetime, only a sliver is worth saving forever.” (Note, p37)

All items that you save, and that reflect these values, are format independent. In other words, a 50-year-old newspaper clipping may be less important to save than an email from last month, depending on your goals. Things don’t have to be “old” to be of enduring value – archival records can be born-digital, in the present.

Create a plan

Once you know what you want to do, and (roughly) what you want to save, you need to create a plan. Start by surveying what you have gathered. Can you divide the project up into different parts, so it is less overwhelming? How many folders or boxes do you need? Would it be easiest to create and store your project digitally?

MPLP (more product, less process) is an archival guiding principle whereby you take care of the most important things first, without feeling like you must get it all done at once. For example, start by stabilizing and re-housing fragile items, storing items by groups in separate boxes, and creating brief inventories. Later you can dive deeper with descriptions, etc. – but in the meantime, you’ve made a start.

Note suggests creating a month by month plan to stay organized. Here’s an example (Note, p6):

  • August: Survey the collection; buy archival supplies
  • September: Organize and process the collection; rehouse slides in archival enclosures;
    create a guide
  • October: Select images for scanning; digitize images
  • November: Interview Person A and Person B; transcribe the best selections of the interview
  • December: Create memory book with photographs and interview quotes; give the books to Person A, Person B, and other relatives

Moving forward

I hope this has been useful! In a future blog we will discuss best practices in handling materials, storing materials, and related topics.

To learn more right now about materials most subject to damage, go here. To learn more about where to buy archival materials (like acid-free folders and plastic sheets), go here.

There is so much to know in this area that we will offer later this year a workshop called Caring for Your Family Treasures. So stay tuned for dates and details on our website calendar!

 

 

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Lindenmeier Lake Resort

Post written by Archive & Collections staff members at Fort Collins Museum of Discovery.

Lindenmeier Lake Resort

Postcard advertising Lindenmeier Lake, 1900s

In 1908, lovebirds in Fort Collins might have gone to Lindenmeier Lake Resort for a day of recreation and fun. It was a place for a picnic lunch in a shady grove, or a romantic rowboat ride on a cool lake followed by an evening of dancing to live music beneath the stars.   

Caledonia Club picnic at Lindenmeier Lake, 1910

William Lindenmeier, Jr., who lived with his family in their home on the lake, started Lindenmeier Lake Resort in 1908. Lindenmeier Lake, a natural lake over a mile long and half a mile wide, is located about 1.8 miles northeast of downtown Fort Collins. The pleasure resort was free to the public and opened formally on June 28, 1908 after the streetcar system in Fort Collins was extended to the site. The trolley made hourly round trip runs to the resort, and passengers could ride the streetcar from any part of the city for a fare of 5 cents. It proved to be a popular destination not only among locals, but also among excursionists who came from Denver to share in the fun.

Picnickers at the Lake, circa 1908

Trolley parks such as Lindenmeier Lake Resort were fashionable in the United States during the early 1900s, and by that time many major American cities had one. In an attempt to drum up more business during weekends, trolley companies built picnic groves at the end of trolley lines where people could go for rest, relaxation, and beautiful outdoor scenery. Whereas people previously traveled by trolley mainly during the workweek, trolley parks enticed riders to drop a coin on transportation during weekends as well.

Fort Collins streetcar on its way to Lindenmeier Lake, circa 1911

Trolley companies took further inspiration from the popularity of Coney Island amusements. In addition to boats and live music, many parks in the country added lavish entertainments such as Ferris wheels or penny arcades. While Mr. Lindenmeier’s resort did not boast a roller coaster, it did possess a nickelodeon and a zoo that included a bear and monkeys!

Clipping from the Fort Collins Morning Express, July 16, 1914

Among the resort’s main attractions were its relaxing outdoor water activities. Mr. Lindenmeier provided a steam launch and rowboats for the park’s visitors, as well as a bathhouse and swimming suits for swimmers. The lake, bursting with fish, was an angler’s paradise.

Canoeing on Lindenmeier Lake, 1910s

People of all ages enjoyed the resort and flocked to it in droves. Couples, families, groups of young people, and folks who wanted to unwind after a long work week came in search of good times and ice cream from the ice cream parlor. In the cold winter months it was ice skating, not ice cream, that brought visitors to the resort.

Dorothy Emerson relaxes in the shade at Lindenmeier Lake, circa 1915

During its glory days, as many as 5000 people could be counted at Lindenmeier Lake Resort on holidays. After a decade of good times, however, Lindenmeier Lake Resort was closed in the late 1910s. The age of the automobile had come, and the trolley park became a fond Fort Collins memory.

Local history lives here. Visit the Archive & Collections at FCMoD – open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm, and 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm – and like us on Facebook to see more historical images and artifacts. Archival images are available for research, purchase, and more through the online Fort Collins History Connection website.

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National Inventors’ Day

Post written by Morgan Wilson, Collections Assistant.

National Inventors’ Day

In the wake of National Inventors’ Day, it is natural that we should honor a local invention that began right here, in Fort Collins.

One invention that has spanned well beyond Fort Collins is the oral irrigator, known to most people as the “waterpik” or “water flosser”. The water flosser is a dental tool which uses a stream of pressurized water to clean between the teeth, like liquid floss! It has a motor and a water reservoir which it draws water from. It was invented by Aqua-Tec, a local company founded in 1962. Aqua-Tec, now known as Water Pik, Inc., has since put forth many more products, such as the Touch-Tronic electric toothbrush and luxury shower heads.

What many people may not know is that at the time of Aqua-Tec’s founding, there was a competing invention, similar to the “water flosser”. In 1958, Dr. C.D. Matteson obtained the patent for his “dental syringe”, which performed a similar function to the water flosser except that it had a metal base which attached directly to a faucet to supply water to the irrigator. In the end, Aqua-Tec’s water flosser became the better-known dental irrigator that we still use and love today.

Water Pik, Inc. is still present in Fort Collins, located on Prospect and Riverside Avenue and will hopefully continue to be an innovative presence in Fort Collins for many years to come.

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The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades!

Post written by staff members at Fort Collins Museum of Discovery.

The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades!

As we enter the year 2020, let’s stay focused on using 20/20 vision to look at our past, present, and future through the archives and collections at Fort Collins Museum of Discovery!

The Archive has hundreds of fantastic photos of fabulous Fort Collins eye wear over the years; check out these examples of spectacular spectacles.

 

Martha Trimble, looking cool in some shades, 1914

Paul Marshall in hexagonal specs, 1940s

John Matushima in some classic wire-rims, 1944

Margaret Martinez in some flashy cat-eyes, 1961

Donald Mai in bold frames, 1966

More cat-eye style on Barb Mason, 1967

Helen and Ed Martin sporting some eyeglasses, 1969

Michael Murry in a later style of specs, 1993

An artistic view of downtown Fort Collins through some checkerboard sunglasses, 1967

Fred Evans was a prominent optometrist in Fort Collins in the 1910s and ‘20s.

Here’s an ad for his business, 1921

Here is a view of his office at 116 South College, circa 1924.

Can you see his sign? “Eye” can!

Fred Evans shows up in our artifact collections too, in these amber tinted eyeglasses, for example, with their case from his shop.

The museum’s artifact collections offer a retrospective look (which is 20/20, of course) at the history of innovation in eyewear. Pince-nez spectacles, which had no earpieces and stayed in place with a nose clip were quite popular early in the 20th century but fell out of fashion as they became associated with older generations.

The ideas behind some innovations are difficult to understand today. These “railway spectacles,” with their hinged double lens swung to the sides offered the eyes added the protection from sun, wind, and flying cinders. Placed in front they offered added magnification. But why was only one side of this particular pair tinted green?

Earpieces appear in many different configurations, like these retractable, spring-loaded ones.

The availability and development of strong plastics led to an explosion in eyeglass styles and colors.

Check out these and many more historic glasses and other artifacts on the History Connection, FCMoD’s online archives and collections database. They’re off the charts!

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A Mountain of Memories: Processing an Archival Collection at Fort Collins Museum of Discovery

Post written by Lauryn Bolz, Archive Intern Fall 2019.

A Mountain of Memories: Processing an Archival Collection at Fort Collins Museum of Discovery

“To unite the energy, interest, and knowledge of the students, explorers and lovers of the mountains of Colorado; Collect and disseminate information regarding the Rocky Mountains on behalf of science, literature, art, and recreation; Stimulate public interest in our mountain area; Encourage the preservation of forests, flowers, fauna, and natural scenery; and Render readily accessible the alpine attractions of this region.”

The Colorado Mountain Club’s mission statement, written in 1912, has stood as an important pillar of the organization’s 100+ year existence. Its holistic approach to preservation, respect, and exploration of Colorado’s wild lands attracted a diverse cast of characters that are not only interwoven into the history of the club, but also in Fort Collins and Colorado State University.

cmc_large_052: Snowshoeing near Bunce School Road in Allenspark, Colorado

This project was my first experience with archiving, and though I was ecstatic to have been given the opportunity to work at Fort Collins Museum of Discovery, the task appeared very daunting to me. One of the things that struck me was the vast amount of creative freedom given to archivists, despite the very methodical nature of the work. When Lesley Struc, the Archive’s curator and my internship advisor, gave me the “Okay, go!” on my project, I found myself overwhelmed at how there could seemingly be infinite equations that all lead to the same result: a clean, organized set of documents.

Scanning my three boxes of material, I remembered my mother meticulously scanning my grandmother’s old slides into the computer when I was a child, so that is where I decided to start. And wow, did my mom make that look easy.

Blog01: Sleeved slides from the Colorado Mountain Club Records

While some of these slides were organized snugly into appropriately sized boxes, with printed descriptions to match, some were thrown haphazardly into half-disintegrated brown paper bags from the 1960s, bound together with sticky old rubber bands. Though some of these methods were difficult to organize, I couldn’t help but find it fun to get to know each of the photographers vicariously through their styles of handwriting and sorting. Alan Kilminster, who studied at CSU and later took a position there as a biomedical photographer, meticulously laid out each trail the Club took, taking more time to describe ‘neighborhoods’ of rocks than the people photographed around them. Chet Watts was a bit more relaxed, photographing his friends in funny poses as they made their way through Colorado’s dazzling mountain settings. Frank Goeder was a professor of physics at CSU with difficult-to-decipher handwriting, which he used to describe the colors of rocks in his beautiful black and white photography.

Being a transfer student, and still relatively new to Colorado, it has sometimes been difficult to find an avenue to connect to the new culture and free-spirited mindset of my new home. Through exploring this collection, I’ve found that these connections are all around us, through art, literature, science, and our instinctual drawing into the wild lands.

cmc_large_013: Hikers taking a rest

Through conducting this project, I felt extremely connected to my new home in Fort Collins through getting to know the photographers of the CMC and seeing the Rocky Mountains through their eyes. I hope this collection helps other future explorers of the vast, diverse landscapes of Colorado, and prompts them to feel the same respect and inspiration shown by the original members of the CMC.

I would especially like to thank the beautiful, intelligent, and endlessly entertaining ladies of FCMoD’s Archive. Lesley Struc and Jenny Hannifin, along with the cast of volunteers, that made my first experience with archiving fun, educational, and profound in many aspects in my life as I continue to pursue a career in museum work. Seeing new researchers come in every day, met with the wonderment of the archive and the passion of the workers there, has invigorated my interests in public history and Fort Collins’ unique past.

Cmc_large_051: Climbing Mount Audobon

View the finding aid for the Colorado Mountain Club Records on the Fort Collins History Connection here.

 

Local history lives here. Visit the Archive & Collections at FCMoD – open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm, and 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm – and like us on Facebook to see more historical images and artifacts. Archival images are available for research, purchase, and more through the online Fort Collins History Connection website.

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The Holidays in Fort Collins

Post written by Alex Ballou, Marketing Assistant.

The Holidays in Fort Collins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Local history lives here. Visit the Archive & Collections at FCMoD – open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm, and 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm – and like us on Facebook to see more historical images and artifacts. Archival images are available for research, purchase, and more through the online Fort Collins History Connection website.

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10 Tips for your next visit to FCMoD

Post written by Alex Ballou, Marketing Assistant.

10 Tips for your next visit to Fort Collins Museum of Discovery

The Thanksgiving holiday is right around and the corner. You may be traveling to Fort Collins or staying-in with the family. If you’re planning a trip to Fort Collins Museum of Discovery, for your first or your one-thousandth time, here are 10 tips for your visit to the museum.

1. General admission to the museum includes all-day re-entry. You are free to leave and return the same day, any time, and with your ticket. Special exhibitions can be left and returned during the same visit. Once you leave FCMoD you will not be able to re-enter into the special exhibition without purchasing another ticket.

2. Our Café covers grab and go snack options, as well as some lunch items, such as grilled cheese or personal pizzas. If you forget a lunch or need a light snack let us fuel your discovery. The Café is located in the museum between the Learning Labs and Natural Areas. The hours are 9:30am-4:00pm.

3. Restrooms for everyone are located on the main floor. Ask any gallery host or discovery agent for directions to the nearest restroom or water fountain. These are located near the Learning Labs and Café and inside the giant jukebox in the exhibit gallery.

4. With membership, comes many perks! Did you know your membership card grants you discounts in The Museum Store, Café, Dome, and for events and programs? Just present your membership card and receive a discount.

5. We have multiple free resources for the community. Our Natural Areas, where our Black-footed ferrets are located, is free to view at the museum without paying admission, as well as, researching and discovering the Archive and Collections. Our Café and The Museum Store areas are free and open to all.

6. There are many options for parking—our parking lot tends to get full fast, however there are, 2-hour parking spots, and a parking garage which is located across Mason and Laporte near our main entrance. Check here for more details about parking.

7. There are bike racks on the plaza for you to lock up your bike or park a scooter. Remember to bring a secure bike lock. Don’t forget you can use the pace bikes outside the museum for all your traveling needs. If you walk, bike, or tube to the museum you will receive a 10% discount. Colorado weather can change drastically, check the weather before you plan your trip. Then re-check the weather before you depart.

8. Having a blast and taking a snapshot of a memory? We would love for you to take photos and videos in the museum. Please feel free to tag @FoCoMoD if used for social media purposes.

9. Have a membership at DMNS or another museum? We love partnership and we are apart of ASTC. Check here for more details about ASTC membership.

10. The OtterBox Digital Dome Theater features several full dome films and presentations in 360°. The state-of-the-art digital projection systems and other special effects bring these shows to life, while our booming surround sound system will have you hearing like never-before. Check all upcoming showtimes here.

 

For more information about Fort Collins Museum of Discovery or how to become a member visit our website to discover all the details!

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Halloween in Fort Collins

Post written by Alex Ballou, Marketing Assistant.

Halloween in Fort Collins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Local history lives here. Visit the Archive & Collections at FCMoD – open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm, and 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm – and like us on Facebook to see more historical images and artifacts. Archival images are available for research, purchase, and more through the online Fort Collins History Connection website.

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The Griffin Piano Lounge

Post written by Linda Moore, Curator of Collections.

There is a lot of space to explore at Fort Collins Museum of Discovery; visitors of all ages can spend hours experiencing the exhibits, jamming in the Music & Sound Lab, taking in a show in the OtterBox Digital Dome Theater, and more. But even with just a few dozen steps through our front door a visitor can encounter something unique: the grand piano, with its distinctive Curly Birdseye Maple veneer, which occupies a large corner of the museum’s Griffin Piano Lounge.

This piano was produced by William Knabe & Co., of Baltimore especially for the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. It is apparently one of only two such pianos produced by Knabe, and its eye-catching appearance and distinctively mellow tone are said to have caught the attention a group of fair visitors from Fort Collins, who determined that their community needed the grace and culture it could provide. This group consisted of Abner Loomis, Frank Miller, Sr., F.W. Sherwood, and Peter Anderson –names that loom large in our community’s history, and echo in the names of our streets and local landmarks. These men brought the piano back to Fort Collins and it was placed in the Old Town Elks Lodge, on Oak Street, where it remained until the that building was demolished in 2008. At that time the piano was first sent to Finger Piano Restoration of Niwot, Colorado for a complete evaluation and restoration, and then delivered to Fort Collins Museum of Discovery.

This history is not the only thing that makes the Knabe piano unique among the artifacts displayed and preserved at FCMoD, whose preservation requires that they are protected from all touching and use. Experts agree that the working mechanisms of musical instruments like the piano are best preserved when played on a regular basis, by experienced musicians aware of its age and delicacy. So, for the health of the piano and for everyone’s enjoyment, visiting musicians and trained museum volunteers play the piano during special events and when possible during regular museum hours.

Come visit the 1904 World’s Fair Knabe Piano in FCMoD’s Griffin Piano Lounge. You’ll experience a legacy gifted to our community over a century ago, and you may just get the chance to hear it played.

Image courtesy of Malcolm McNeill

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Fall Colors

Post written by Alex Ballou, Marketing Assistant.

Fall Colors in Fort Collins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Local history lives here. Visit the Archive & Collections at FCMoD – open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm, and 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm – and like us on Facebook to see more historical images and artifacts. Archival images are available for research, purchase, and more through the online Fort Collins History Connection website
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