Fourth of July Celebrations in Colorado

Post written by Alex Ballou, Marketing Assistant.

Fourth of July Celebrations in Colorado

Knights of Columbus float in parade in Fourth of July Parade, Denver, Colorado. From Frank McCafferty scrapbook. Circa 1919.


William Clifford “Cliff” Brollier in front of the old Elks Building at the corner of Walnut and Linden Streets, Fort Collins, Colorado. Photo taken during the July 4 Celebration. The photo was donated by Doris (Brollier) Greenacre. Circa 1913.


Festive Fourth: Sara Hunt, Jill Kusa and Emma Payton join hands to dance to the sounds of Liz Masterson and band during Fourth of July events at City Park. Fort Collins, Colorado. Circa 1993.


Japanese men with parasols marching in Fourth of July Parade in Denver, Colorado. From Frank McCafferty scrapbook. Circa 1919.


Fourth of July parade in Denver – two women with parasols in floral decorated car. From Frank McCafferty scrapbook. Circa 1919.


Similar features adorn the miniature Statue of Liberty at City Park and Rocky Mountain High School senior Chris Olson, who wore his hair in “liberty spikes” during the Fourth of July celebration. Fort Collins, Colorado. Circa 1989.


Spectators and runners enjoy the Fourth of July Firecracker Five race near Horsetooth Reservior. (The Triangle Review, 1979/07/08, p.2)


Fireworks stand in semi-truck trailer near Fort Collins, Colorado. Circa 1979.


Local history lives here. 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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Father’s Day

Post written by Alex Ballou, Marketing Assistant.

Father’s in Fort Collins

Today we honor all Father’s, those in the present and in the past.









Local history lives here. 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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Daily Discovery: Ghost Signs of Fort Collins!

Post written by Lesley Struc, Curator of the Archive.

Daily Discovery: Ghost Signs of Fort Collins!

A “ghost sign” sounds spooky, but it’s not! It is an old, painted sign on the outside of a building that once advertised things like grocery stores, hotels, and food and drink. They are called “ghosts” because they reflect life in the past; sometimes they are easier to see when the lighting is just right on brick buildings, or when rain brings out their faded colors.

Old Town in Fort Collins features many of these magical old ghost signs. Take a virtual tour of local ghost signs by visiting here!

Then, step into the past by making your own historically inspired ghost sign!


  • Small sponge rectangle (we used the edge of a “magic eraser” but any sponge will work)
  • White paper that takes paint well
  • Red paint (we used washable finger paint)
  • Paper plate for holding paint
  • Pencil and Crayons (bright, contrasting colors work best)
  • Glue stick
  • Newspaper or other scrap paper to protect your work surface
  • Construction paper that is larger than your white paper for mounting the final picture


  1. Lay out a few pieces of scrap paper beneath your white paper to protect your work surface from paint.
  2. Cut the edge of a sponge into a small rectangle (about 1” x 2”) for dipping into the red paint.
  3. Pour some red paint onto the paper plate and dip the sponge, saturating it in the paint.
  4. Start stamping the paper in a brick pattern as shown below.
  5. Let the paint dry completely. The paper may wrinkle a bit while drying, and that is okay!
  6. Sketch out your ghost sign on the bricks lightly in pencil first, then go over your design in crayon. Brighter, contrasting colors show up best on the bricks. Your designs can be inspired by actual signs in Fort Collins, like the Nedley Hotel sign in this example, or you can come up with your own idea, product, or business! (Fun fact: the Nedley Hotel ghost sign can be seen at 130 S. College in Ft. Collins and was painted about 110 years ago! It also had a light above it so it could be seen at night.)
  7. Using a glue stick, adhere your finished sign on a larger piece of construction paper to flatten and frame your art.

Want to download these directions? Click here for a handy PDF!

Follow along with our Daily Discovery! Click here for all activities that you can do at home.

Educational opportunities like this are supported in part by Fort Fund.

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Daily Discovery: Help Make History! / Descubrimiento en casa: ¡Ayuda a hacer historia!

Post written by Heidi Fuhrman, Discovery Camps Coordinator.

Daily Discovery: Help Make History!

Museums are places to learn, play, and discover…and they also have another important job: to collect, save, and share history! FCMoD focuses on the history of Fort Collins and Northern Colorado, and we need your help by telling us your story of living through COVID-19. Learn more below!

Hi, my name is Lesley Struc and I am the Archivist here at FCMoD. An archivist brings the past to the present by collecting and saving things like photos, letters, diaries, books, maps, and newspapers. I love keeping these things organized and available so that everyone can visit the Archive or our website to discover the history of Fort Collins!

One of my favorite stories about local history is our connection to Disneyland in California. A man named Harper Goff grew up in Fort Collins and later worked for the Disney company. In the 1950s he helped design the look of Main Street in Disneyland and used his happy memories of Fort Collins as inspiration! Here is a view of Walnut Street in Fort Collins from 1891…I think I can see a little Disneyland in there!

“Hi there! My name is Linda and I am the Curator of Collections here at FCMoD. I take care of the artifacts –which can be any of the objects we use to live our lives, while collecting as much information as possible about them. I make sure the rooms where we keep artifacts have the right temperature and light and are safe from pests that could harm them. My favorite moments with artifacts happen when people recognize something familiar in them: like when seeing a toy reminds them of how it felt to be younger, or a fingerprint on an ancient piece of pottery reminds them what it feels like to squish clay in their hands. (Visitors enjoy showing off their aprons from home while visiting an exhibit about historic aprons.)


What Can You Do? . . . Share Your Story!

We want you to tell us your story! Visit here to submit written, video, and photo files about your experience living during COVID-19. Use the ideas and questions below to help you get started.

We want people of all ages to complete it! That means you kids, teens, grown-ups, and families together. Remember your story is so important! You don’t have to be “famous” to be a very important part of history!

Not ready to share your story yet? That’s ok! Use the ideas below to record it anyway. When you’re ready, we’d love it if you share your story with us through our website. We want to help you save your story for your friends and family who will wonder about it later.

Get Started!

Not sure how to tell your story? Here are some ideas:
• Write a letter to your future self. What do you want to remember?
• Take a video of yourself telling the story of your quarantine.
Interview your friends and family (see our “Story Detectives” Discovery At Home to get started!)
• Become a photojournalist for a day/week. Write captions for all your photos and be sure to note
where you took it and the names of anyone in the photo!
• Create a graphic novel or art about living in COVID-19.
• Make a scrapbook! Include mask selfies, pictures of school at home, sidewalk chalk, baked goods, other parts of your experience! Be sure to include when, where, and who info about the photos.
You can share all of these with us through our website portal!

Think about these questions:

  •  If you were a kid learning about COVID-19 in 50 or 100 or 200 years what would you want them to
    know about your life? What would you want to tell them?
  • What do you want to remember about this time?
  • How are you feeling? What scares you? What makes you happy? What makes you sad?
  • What are you doing? What new things have you created or done to stay entertained?
  • What has been the hardest thing for you about stay-at-home and COVID-19?
  • What has changed in your life that is different from before?
  • How do you feel about wearing a mask?
  • How do you feel about doing school or work at home?
  • How do you feel about not seeing friends or family?
  • What has been the best thing about stay-at-home? What is the most fun thing you’ve done?
  • What is making you smile even when life is hard?

Want to download these directions? Click here for a handy PDF!

Follow along with our Daily Discovery! Click here for all activities that you can do at home.


Traducido por Károl de Rueda y Laura Vilaret-Tuma.

Descubrimiento en casa: ¡Ayuda a hacer historia!

Los museos son instituciones para aprender, jugar, descubrir… Pero también tienen otra responsabilidad importante: el colectar, preservar ¡y compartir la historia! El Museo del Descubrimiento de Fort Collins (FCMoD) también se enfoca en documentar la historia de Fort Collins y del norte de Colorado, y en estos momentos necesitamos de tu ayuda. Cuéntanos sobre lo que has vivido, lo que has visto, y lo que has experimentado durante la crisis del coronavirus (COVID-19). Encuentra información sobre este proyecto más abajo.

“¡Hola! Mi nombre es Lesley Struc, la Archivista de FCMoD. La función de un archivista es traer el pasado al presente. Yo me encargo de colectar y preservar artículos como fotografías, cartas, diarios y periódicos. Me encanta mantener organizado este material y hacerlo disponible para todas las personas que quieran descubrir la historia de Fort Collins, ya sea visitando el área de Archivo en el museo, o en nuestro sitio web. Una de mis historias favoritas es la conexión local que tenemos con Disneylandia en California. Un hombre llamado Harper Goff, creció en Fort Collins y luego trabajó para la compañía Disney en los años 50s. Ayudando a diseñar Main Street en Disneylandia, tomó inspiración de sus felices recuerdos basándose en algunos edificios ¡de Fort Collins! Esta es una fotografía de Walnut Street en Fort Collins del año 1891… ¡Creo que puedo ver un poco de Disneylandia es esta imagen!”

“¡Hola! Mi nombre es Linda y soy la curadora de colecciones aquí en FCMoD. Me encargo de los artefactos -que pueden ser cualquiera de los objetos que utilizamos diariamente- mientras recopilo la mayor cantidad de información posible sobre ellos. Me aseguro de que las habitaciones donde los guardamos tengan la temperatura y la luz correctas, y que estén a salvo de plagas que puedan dañarlos. Mis momentos favoritos con los artefactos ocurren cuando las personas reconocen algo familiar entre ellos: ver un juguete que trae memorias de su infancia, o una huella digital en una pieza de cerámica antigua les recuerda lo que se siente el aplastar arcilla entre sus manos.”

¿Qué puedes hacer? ¡Comparte tu historia!

¡Queremos que nos cuentes tu historia! Visita el sitio para enviar escritos, videos, fotografías, etc. sobre tus experiencias durante la crisis de COVID-19. Nos encantaría que nos ayudaran ¡personas de todas las edades! Eso significa que las experiencias de niños, de adolescentes, de adultos y de familias enteras son bienvenidas. ¡Recuerda que tu historia es muy importante! ¡No tienes que ser “famoso” para hacer historia! ¿Aún no estás listo/a para compartir? ¡No te preocupes! Cuando lo estés, nos encantaría recibir tu material a través de nuestro sitio web. ¡Estas historias podrían quedar para la posteridad!

¡Vamos a empezar!

Estas son algunas ideas para crear tu historia:

  • Escribe una carta dirigida hacia ti mismo, pero pensando en el futuro. ¿Qué te gustaría recordar de estos momentos?
  • Graba en video la historia de tu cuarentena.
  • Entrevista a amigos y familiares y anota sus experiencias.
  • Conviértete en reportero fotográfico. Escribe títulos para todas tus fotografías y asegúrate de anotar el lugar en donde fueron tomadas, así como los nombres de cualquier persona incluida en la imagen.
  • Crea una novela gráfica o alguna pieza de arte que exprese tu nueva rutina o alguna experiencia durante estos tiempos de crisis.
  • Haz un álbum de recortes. Incluye selfies con cubrebocas, fotos de “la escuela en casa,” dibujos hechos con gises sobre la acera, comidas especiales, o cualquier otra experiencia personal. Asegúrate de incluir información sobre cuándo, dónde y quién forma parte de las imágenes.

¡Comparte este material con el museo a través de nuestro sitio web!

¿Cómo les responderías a estas preguntas?

  • Si fueras un niño aprendiendo sobre COVID-19 en 50, 100 ó 200 años, ¿qué te gustaría saber sobre tu vida actual? ¿Qué te gustaría decirles a las nuevas generaciones sobre estos momentos? • ¿Qué quieres recordar sobre esta experiencia?
  • ¿Qué quieres recordar sobre esta experiencia?
  • ¿Cómo te sientes? ¿Qué te asusta? ¿Qué te hace feliz? ¿Qué te pone triste?
  • ¿Qué estás haciendo? ¿Has creado o inventado algo nuevo para entretenerte?
  • ¿Qué ha sido lo más difícil para ti sobre la orden de quedarse en casa?
  • ¿Qué ha cambiado en tu vida que ahora es diferente?
  • ¿Cómo te sientes al usar un cubrebocas?
  • ¿Cómo te sientes al tener clases y/o trabajar desde casa?
  • ¿Cómo te sientes al no poder tener contacto cercano con amigos o familiares?
  • ¿Qué ha sido lo mejor de quedarse en casa? ¿Qué es lo más divertido que has hecho?
  • ¿Qué te hace sonreír incluso cuando la vida es difícil?

¿Te gustaría descargar esta actividad? Haz clic aquí para obtener un archivo PDF.

Para encontrar actividades, ideas y mucho más descubrimiento en casa, ¡síguenos!

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Fort Collins & The Flu: 1918-1919

Post written by Sarah Frahm, Archive Assistant.

Fort Collins & The Flu: 1918-1919

What did Fort Collins look like the last time the city faced a widespread shutdown? From the fall of 1918 through the early spring of 1919 the citizens of Fort Collins found themselves under varying stages of quarantine due to the influenza epidemic. One document, currently at the Archive, that gives some insight into how the city officials handled the epidemic and quarantining of the population is a “Summary of Advisory Committee Recommendations.”

Fort Collins Quarantine Recommendations

Most telling about the problems the city faced in managing the flu epidemic is that the advisory committee was not even formed until December 1918, despite influenza raging in the city since at least October. According to an October 18th article in The Weekly Courier the state board of health had ordered the closing of “everything” in Colorado  but that those in charge of the college campus, where men were still doing military training, would not close the campus. The previous week an editorial had appeared in the newspaper demanding a “rigid quarantine be established” and that the city should be “shut down tight” like Boulder and Greeley. By the end of the October both the college and the city had enacted some form of closure, although without official documents it is a challenge to tell just how strenuous the shutdown was. Another article mid-November from The Weekly Courier complains that “quarantine has not been very rigid of late” with November seeing both elections and the armistice ending World War One and that these events and gatherings led to a rising in the number of flu cases.


The convening of a citizen advisory committee to the city board of health seems to be a recognition that the previous handling of the flu epidemic had been somewhat ad hoc and unclear (the November issues of The Weekly Courier discuss whether masks should be worn, or not, and if quarantine would be lifted, or not) and in need of some sort of codification.

But how did these regulations, once adopted, affect the citizens of Fort Collins? The first two points recommended by the advisory committee were not all that different from the quarantining, done before and after the influenza epidemic, for other diseases, like measles or scarlet fever. However, the third recommendation of shutting down schools and “ordinary public gatherings” was different. Social and fraternal clubs closed, such as the Elks (in April 1919, The Fort Collins Courier reports that the lodge was in remarkable good financial health despite having been closed for nearly three months. The women’s gymnasium, on the other hand, found itself struggling to have enough members in March.) The superintendent of the school district reported in the summer of 1919 that the school year had been full of “anxiety, hindrance, and depression” and that many of the plans for academic work had to be abandoned.

 The Elks Lodge was located at 202 Linden Street and was closed during the influenza quarantine.

If the lack of proper schooling and a severe curtail on social life were not bad enough, the fourth recommendation from the advisory committee was an extreme frustration to many in Fort Collins. Shortly after the requirement limiting the number of people in any place of business came out The Weekly Courier wrote an editorial telling people to quit complaining, pointing out that they too had to deal with these restrictions upon their office (if someone was to visit the newspaper office, a member of staff would have to leave in order to maintain the proper number of people per square footage). The editorial admonished the people the writer considered to be “knockers” to take the disease more seriously for the sake of the survival of the city.

While the committee was extremely serious on the subject of loafing on the streets (how else does a recommendation get to be written not only in capital letters but also underlined and starred?) the record of impact on peoples’ lives of that specific order is currently unknown. Rather it is the suborder that bares out most in the historical record. The committee called for a special officer to be appointed. The man who became “Quarantine Officer” was Orrin J. Watrous, then the secretary of the Fort Collins Commercial Club. According to The Fort Collins Express writing about the official vote of thanks put forth by the city government to Watrous, Mr. Watrous daily visited between “a dozen to twenty houses in his quarantine rounds” in order to ensure people were properly following the orders of the city.

Orrin Watrous, pictured here at the far right with a cigar in his mouth and boxing gloves on his hands.

When people did not follow quarantine regulations, there were consequences. One farmer, a Mr. Tom Hale, accused of breaking the quarantine on his house, had to go to court on December 27th and face trial. The Weekly Courier reported that Mr. Hale’s case was dismissed. While it is not clear what kind of fine or other penalty Mr. Hale would have had if he had been found guilty, his case is still an example of the added difficulties of living life under quarantine.

It is difficult to know, exactly, how people felt about the restrictions placed upon them by the city government. Currently there is only access to a weekly newspaper (even though the newspaper also ran dailies, Archive staff cannot get to them right now) and while there are potentially useful items held in the Archive collection, with our own doors closed, a lot of the details will have to remain unknown for the current time.

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Daily Discovery: Baking with History – Fort Collins Brownies/ Descubrimiento en casa: Recetas con historia – bizcochos de chocolate (brownies) de Fort Collins

Post written by Charlotte Conway, Public Programs Coordinator.

Daily Discovery: Baking with History – Fort Collins Brownies

Have you ever had trouble getting a brownie recipe to rise? High altitude baking requires special adjustments to get the same results as lower altitudes. Lucky for us, people from FoCo history have already developed recipes perfect for baking in our Colorado high altitude.

Learn about Dr. Inga Allison, a figure from Fort Collins history, who developed the science for high altitude baking, and then grab a parent to help you bake through history!

Dr. Inga Allison’s High Altitude Brownies Recipe

Inga Allison joined the Home Economics Department at Fort Collins’ Colorado Agriculture College from 1903 to 1908, at a time when several faculty members were starting to study the unique effects of high altitude on both crop growth and food preparation. Lacking an established lab, Allison conducted her experiments in cooking at altitude with improvised equipment in challenging conditions – baking, for example, in a rough Estes Park shanty located at 11,800 feet above sea level!

You can thank Dr. Allison for most brownie recipes that work here in Fort Collins – they most likely take into account the science developed by Dr. Allison! Follow along with her original brownie recipe on the next page!

Want to download these directions? Click here for a handy PDF!

Follow along with our Daily Discovery! Click here for all activities that you can do at home.


Traducido por Károl de Rueda y Laura Vilaret-Tuma.

Descubrimiento en casa: Recetas con historia – bizochos de chocolate (brownies) de Fort Collins

¿Alguna vez has tenido algún problema siguiendo recetas de brownies? En Colorado -y en lugares con gran altitud- el hornear ciertos platillos requiere ajustes especiales para obtener los mismos resultados que en lugares con altitudes más bajas. Pero por suerte, existen recetas locales comprobadas que sirven para hornear con éxito en nuestra área.

Conoce a la Dra. Inga Allison; una figura histórica de nuestra ciudad que descubrió la ciencia para hornear en elevaciones altas. Con la ayuda de un adulto, usa esta receta histórica ajustada por ella para hacer unos brownies, ¡y comparte el delicioso resultado con tu familia!

Horneando pasteles con diferentes alturas.

Columna A – Pasteles horneados al nivel del mar sin ningún ajustamiento.

Columna B – Pasteles horneados al nivel del mar con ajustamiento de levadura en polvo.

Columna C – Pasteles horneados con recetas correctamente balanceadas para elevaciones altas.

Un archivo de la colección del museo que representa el experimento de una misma receta horneada a diferentes niveles de altura. A 3,048 metros (10,000 pies), a 1,524 metros (5,000 pies), y al nivel del mar. Observa cómo cambia la estructura de cada postre.

Receta de brownies ajustada por la Dra. Inga Allison

Inga Allison se unió al Departamento de Economía Doméstica en el Colegio Universitario de Agricultura de Fort Collins de 1903 a 1908. En aquel entonces, muchos miembros de la facultad empezaron a estudiar los efectos de la altura en el crecimiento de los cultivos y la preparación de alimentos. El colegio no tenía un laboratorio disponible, por tanto, Allison comenzó sus experimentos sobre la cocción en elevaciones altas con equipos improvisados y bajo condiciones difíciles; por ejemplo, horneaba en una cabina desgastada localizada en el pueblo de Estes Park, que está a unos 3,596 metros (aproximadamente 11,800 pies) de altura.

Podemos agradecerle a la Dra. Allison por desarrollar la ciencia que influye en la mayoría de las recetas de brownies creadas aquí en Fort Collins. ¡Sigue su receta original traducida en la página siguiente!

Receta para hacer bizcochos de chocolate (brownies) de Fort Collins:


  •  2/3 taza de harina de trigo
  • 1/2 cucharadita de levadura en polvo
  • 1/4 cucharadita de sal
  • 1/3 taza de manteca vegetal
  • 2 barras de chocolate sin azúcar
  • 1 taza de azúcar blanca
  • 2 huevos batidos
  • 1/2 taza de nueces
  • 1 cucharadita de vainilla
  • Para alturas de 2,286 metros (aproximadamente 7,500 pies) o de 3,048 metros (10,000 pies) sobre el nivel del mar, añade 1/4 cucharadita de levadura en polvo


Derrite la manteca vegetal junto con el chocolate a baño maría. En otro recipiente, agrega gradualmente el azúcar a los huevos batidos hasta que estén completamente mezclados. Agrégales la mezcla de chocolate y bate. Adjunta todos los ingredientes secos y mézclalos hasta que estén incorporados. Incluye las nueces y la vainilla. Coloca la mezcla en un refractario engrasado tamaño 20x20x5 centímetros (8x8x2 pulgadas) y hornea por 35 minutos a 180ºC (350ºF). Cuando esté todavía caliente, corta en forma de cuadros. Retíralos del recipiente y déjalos enfriar. Rinde para 2 docenas de brownies.

¿Te gustaría descargar esta actividad? Haz clic aquí para obtener un archivo PDF.

Para encontrar actividades, ideas y mucho más descubrimiento en casa, ¡síguenos!

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Making History Come Alive

Post written by Emily Smith, Archive Intern Spring 2020.

Making History Come Alive

At the beginning of the semester I started out physically in the Archive processing a new collection sent in from a genealogist who had ties to the area. In the procession of the collection of documents I learned the collection had connections to the Mason Family, as well as Northern Colorado in general dealing with documents from local Colorado archives as well as original Homestead application documents from the National Archive.

Nearing the end of that – there was the closure of the museum which consequently changed the way we were able to work in the Archive. To continue working from home I was unfortunately unable to continue my work on the collection, however, it gave me more exposure to new and different things the Archive does! Now working from home, I have helped with the transcribing of the Mary Hottel journal as well as, successfully transcribed one Oral History interview and I am now starting on a new Oral History to transcribe. While things have been drastically changing it has always been nice to go back to the Archive work as it is always engaging and interesting, while also understanding how many people in the community this will help in the future!

Thank YOU, Emily, for being an awesome FCMoD intern! We so appreciate your hard work and our community is grateful for the work you’ve done to make local history accessible to all.

Interested in interning at FCMoD? Check out opportunities under the “Internships” section of this page.

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Background in History!

Post written by Lesley Struc, Curator of the Archive.

Background in History!

Feeling the need to add a little historical zing to your online video meetings? Well, the Archive at Fort Collins Museum of Discovery has you covered. Feel free to download these images of Fort Collins’ past and use them as your virtual backdrop during your next online meeting or chat; impress your friends and coworkers with your fervor for local history!

Welcome to Camp Collins, circa 1865, looking southwest from the Poudre River toward the fort’s parade ground and buildings. This would have been near present-day Linden and Jefferson Streets. Download photo.

Fisticuffsmanship! Well, not exactly. This is wrestling match that took place circa 1908 on the east side of the 200 block of Mountain Avenue. All the people are looking at you, waiting for you to finish your meeting so they can start the bout. Download photo.

Meet your new officemate H.C. Lighter, Justice of the Peace for Larimer County, in his office at the Avery Block in Old Town, circa 1908. Download photo.

Your new office has a great view of the west side of North College Avenue, circa 1904. Download photo.

Now you’re on top of a streetcar in 1908, looking down North College toward Mountain Avenue. Check out all the cars in Fort Collins at that time and what is believed to be the earliest photo of the trolley. Download photo.

Finally, some color! Here’s a view of Pingree Park from a hand-tinted lantern slide from the 1910s. Ahhh, so peaceful. Download photo.

Nice office! Get things done here in the Poudre Valley Bank offices at 401 South College in 1967. This building is now home to Wells Fargo Bank. Download photo.

You can hold an important meeting in this stylish board room, also from the Poudre Valley Bank, 1967. Can you spy the Safeway out of the window? That building now houses Lucky’s Market at 425 South College Avenue. Download photo.

The Northern Hotel is looking bright and cheery in this postcard from 1958. Download photo.

Lounge around at the Safari Club, once located at 400 Link Lane in Fort Collins, where you could enjoy “Cocktails, Steaks, Prime Rib, Seafood and European Delicacies. Piano Lounge, Live Music, and Ballroom Dancing.” This image is from a circa 1975 postcard. Download photo.


Voila! Now boring video meetings will be a thing of the past… literally! Check out even more awesome local history photo background options by visiting the Fort Collins History Connections website:

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These Artifacts Aren’t Playing Coy with History 

Post written by Linda Moore, Curator of Collections at Fort Collins Museum of Discovery.

These Artifacts Aren’t Playing Coy with History

Though all historic documents and artifacts are open to interpretation, the material nature of authentic artifacts give them a level of trust-worthiness that is unique. A thumbprint pressed into clay by its maker, a bare spot worn into the brim of a tophat that has been politely tipped hundreds of times, or the impossibly narrow width of a wedding shoe from 200 years ago —these are all ways that artifacts can speak to us about the nature of the people whose lives touched them.

Even in the case of people who are well represented in the written record, artifacts can add aspects of humanity to their story. Elizabeth “Libbie” Coy was born in Fort Collins in 1865, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John G. Coy, who had arrived here in 1862. She is well-known in our local history as one of the first three people to graduate from what was known then as Colorado Agricultural College —today’s Colorado State University, in 1884. Libbie was, in fact, the first woman to graduate from any institution of higher learning in the state of Colorado. She was intensely engaged in the early civic life of our community, advocating strongly for the women’s suffrage at both the state and national level.

Libbie Coy is represented in the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery’s historic artifact collection by a small, diverse set of objects. The most personal is this cream wool skirt and bodice ensemble which she wore for her wedding to James W. Lawrence on June 19, 1890, after which she was known as Mrs. James Lawrence. This formal outfit echoes Libbie’s diminutive form, as well as the prevailing fashion of her time. The sleeves with full puffs at the top, known as “leg-of-mutton” were the height of fashion in the late 1880s, and a suit which could be worn for other occasions rather than a gown designed to be worn for the wedding day only, was a common choice for brides of her day.

Other objects in the museum’s collection represent the Coy family’s settlement in this area, and the agricultural life they led here. The family brought this pump organ overland by an ox team when they traveled here from the eastern United States in 1873. It attests to the important place that music played in their family life, and is on exhibit in the Music & Sound Lab of FCMoD.

These two rough wood objects reflect the work of Libbie’s father, John G. Coy. The donation record states that he shaped this potato masher by hand, and he may also have made this grain flail, which he used to beat the hulls off of whole grains produced on the family’s farm.

Lastly, we have this framed motto, stitched by Libbie Coy’s own hand. Local historian Evadene Swanson, recalls seeing it displayed on the kitchen wall of the Pioneer Cabin, once it had become a Fort Collins meeting place. Shaped by her hands, do you think this motto reflects Libbie’s spirit as well?

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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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