May 052010
Authors: Erin Udell

Eighteen-year-old Rachel Jones walked into the Fort Collins Museum and Discovery Science Center early Tuesday afternoon in search of a little history.

She found it.

“You could probably find this on the Internet, but it’s just not the same,” she said, gesturing toward a historic map of the Poudre Canyon.

Jones is one of the many visitors to the local history archive, which offers free admission as well as 1,000 linear feet of historical materials, including city directories, reference books, newspaper microfilm and historic photographs.

It is because of this vast collection, as well as the dedication of employees, volunteers and supporters alike, that Denver’s Landmark Preservation Commission decided to honor the archive with the Friend of Preservation Award.

The award, which will be presented June 1, is a high honor given annually to an individual or organization for demonstrating hard work in the preservation and promotion of their community.

“We’re super excited,” said Lesley Drayton, Curator of Archives for the local museum and Discovery Science Center. “It was a really nice surprise to get honored for doing what we love.”

The local archive has been offering Colorado residents the opportunity to share in Larimer County history since its establishment in 1976.

It offers bookshelves filled with magazines, periodicals, directories and indexes, as well as local high school yearbooks, one even dating back to 1920.

“This is a popular section,” said Drayton, pointing to the wall of yearbooks.

“If you’re looking for some bad pictures for blackmail, come here,” she joked.

Aside from the yearbook section, visitors frequent the file cabinets filled with photographs of Fort Collins residents and pictures of properties throughout Larimer County.

“We have over 200,000 photographs throughout the archive,” Drayton said.

Senior Psychology Major Dan Gerdes said he enjoyed the vast selection as he sorted through photographs of the South Ridge Golf Course in search of information for a research paper.

“It’s very cool. It’s a nice place. There is all sorts of good stuff here,” Gerdes said before settling on a photograph, purchasing a copy and heading on his way.

While most of these materials, including tax assessments and document files, are helpful for research, museum employee Star Seastone spoke of more personal experiences she has witnessed than of the actual archive material.

“I enjoy seeing people come in looking for their family history,” said Seastone. “I like it when kids go in and get to learn about their history at a young age.”

Staff writer Erin Udell can be reached at

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