During my spring semester at Colorado State University, I had the privilege of working as an intern for the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery(FCMOD). I was tasked to work for the archive team and assist on projects that would prove crucial for the organization. At first I was a bit nervous as I had not had any experience in applying my knowledge of history in a career field. However, my nerves soon settled as I worked on a series of five projects for the museum: Open Stage Theatre, Inventory organization, Althea Williams, Postcards, and Mary Hottel’s journals.
These were all fun projects each coming with their own challenges and secrets. For the Althea Williams collection, I was able to learn plenty about the history of the Colonel. She had served in three wars as a nurse these being World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam war. These are the types of people that I loved reading about in history textbooks and was thankful that I could learn about this local hero. Her collection included a lot of interesting pieces such as her ID cards during the wars, a list of certificates, her uniform from the wars, and photo albums. All of these primary pieces of evidence provided insight to Althea’s complex and interesting life. One of the most interesting pieces of Althea’s collection are a set of letters in which she fights Columbia Pictures and actress Sally Field over a planned production of a movie called Home before Morning. In this section, Althea kept a good record of her correspondence between the studio and herself. Eventually she won her argument thus Columbia Pictures never created the film. While I would love to discuss all of these items in detail, I would well exceed the typical blog post format and ruin all the fun for you. If you would like to learn more about the life and history of Althea Williams I would suggest that you visit the FCMOD for their presentation on women’s history in June or view Althea’s collection in the archive. Provided is a link to Althea’s finding aid: http://database.history.fcgov.com/cdm/ref/collection/sc/id/3721.
When I moved on to the postcard collection, I was interested to see how postcards had evolved over time. To my disappointment, many of the postcards looked much the same as today’s postcards. However, I was able to gain a lot of insight about Fort Collins History along with some quirky facts about Colorado State University. For example, many of us have probably observed the trolley tracks that run through Mountain Avenue in Old Town but how many knew that Fort Collins still gives trolley tours during the summer? Well if you did not, now you do and this year you should go as it is the trolley’s 100 year anniversary! As well, I also learned that Colorado State used to host what was known as College Day Parades celebrating the end of another school year at the University. Did you also know that the campus once had a bowling alley in the Lory Student Center? Or that the police department used to be an all-woman’s dorm known as Green Hall? Pretty cool huh? I only learned about this while working on the collection for two weeks imagine what else you could find within the Archives at the museum!
My last project that I was able to work on was transcribing the journal of Mary E. Hottel who was the daughter of the first millionaire in Fort Collins Benjamin Hottel. She had what many of us would consider a normal life now, however, back in Mary’s time she was always going on “dandy spins” or eating sundaes with the girls and strolling around the Business District of Fort Collins a.k.a Old Town. She even kept a chap book which rated each man she dated with a description to go along with them.
What I hope you gained from my post is that the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery is an amazing place to visit and get lost in. It is an underused resource in my opinion and can also be a fun place to enjoy. Feel free to take a stop at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery located on 408 Mason Ct open every day of the week.