Often one of the most interesting parts of my job is acquiring new things for the Stampede Archives and collections. Over the summer I’ve been able to meet with a variety of donors, and have been happy to add new photographs and artifacts to our holdings. Chaps, postcards, souvenir programs, pins, scrapbooks, artworks, and memorabilia are only some of the objects I’ve been excited to work with!
I got a call from the local history librarian at the Calgary Public Library, Carolyn Ryder, asking if I wanted this scrapbook she found in her collection. The scrapbook likely belonged to Eliza Wood, who often won best-dressed cowgirl competitions, and is filled with newspaper clippings, photographs, and prize slips. Many of the people in the photographs are also identified, which is always helpful! Unfortunately, the scrapbook is in an adhesive photo album, and tape and paper clips have been used in several places. These all present conservation issues, and have caused deterioration. All of the articles and photos contained within will have to be rehomed into better storage.
I’ve also received a few different souvenir programs, along with their daily inserts, which are great for research. I can look into what events were happening on what day, special guests, and see what has changed (or stayed the same) over the years. The ads are also great for taking a look into Calgary history and what businesses were around.
Along with these programs I also received some other things, including a parade participant ribbon from 1950, a prize slip from 1945, and a Roy Rogers souvenir program.
Pins are something I get a lot of inquiries about. Many people collect pins, and are looking for the one they are missing, or would like to donate their large collections to archives. In some cases, I’m unfortunately unable to accept. For some years, we have several copies of the pins from that year, though in others we may have only one, or even no copies. I’ve accepted a few donations this summer of pins, including these ones, featuring everything from pandas to local businesses like Heritage Park, Hudson’s Bay and Kodak to super dogs. Some of them are truly miniature works of art.
Cowboy attire from the 1920s also made its way to me this summer, all the way from Florida. I was contacted by a gentleman whose father had road tripped across the USA and worked at the Stampede one summer. We’re happy to now have his woolly chaps, cowboy hat, pink silk shirt, and souvenir scarf for our collection. The chaps in particular will need some conservation work, as the faux leather is flaking and the wool is quite dirty. The silk shirt will also need a good clean! An almost complete outfit is a great addition to the collection though, especially from the earlier years of Stampede history.
Somewhat poignantly, I also recently received a trophy that had been won by Winston Bruce in 1954. Bruce was, of course, a great figure in Stampede history, winning saddle bronc championships, becoming rodeo manager and arena director, and helping start the Born to Buck program.
While these objects are only a small amount of the donations and inquiries I’ve received over the last few months, they certainly represent the wide range of artifacts I can be assessing, handling, looking after, and researching at any given moment. What a way to spend my days!
Stay tuned for more artifact stories and history in the near future.