Posts Tagged ‘Palmer’

Greetings from Palmer: cataloging Alaska’s colonial past

June 18, 2009

I have now been an intern at the Palmer Historical Society’s Colony House Museum for two weeks.  Today was my first time experiencing an earthquake while working at the museum.  Luckily it was a small earthquake (magnitude 3.3).  As I heard all of the objects in the house shaking, there was a moment when I was thinking, “I hope this house, which was built hastily to get new Palmer colonists out of tents before the Alaskan winter, can withstand earthquakes…”  Obviously the museum and I both survived, but I guess earthquakes will definitely fall into the risk management portion of the collections plan I am writing.

Colony House Museum in Palmer, AK

The Colony House Museum interprets a unique part of American and Alaskan history.  In 1935, one of the New Deal reforms resettled families in need of aid to different communities throughout the U.S.  The largest of these projects, called the Matanuska Colony, resettled 204 families from the Midwest to settle the Matanuska Valley, about 40 miles north of Anchorage.  While there were already a few homesteaders in the area, this resettlement program was the beginning of Palmer as a town.  The house, formerly the home of Oscar and Irene Beyland on track 94, was moved to downtown Palmer and is mostly furnished through donations from colonists and “colony kids” (children of colonists now in their 60s, 70s, and 80s) to represent the typical home of the colony between 1935 and 1945.

Gerry and Mary Pat

My basic tasks at the Colony House Museum are collections related: initiating a accessioning scheme, creating a collections plan, teaching the volunteers how to use PastPerfect, etc.  I’ll go into more detail in future posts.

Living Room of Colony House

exhibit space on left, my workspace on the right