TALES FROM THE ARCHIVE

TALES FROM THE ARCHIVE

The Valdez Museum & Historical Archive has several components; first is the Main Museum on Egan Drive in downtown Valdez which includes a public gathering place where art and cultural exhibits are on display. Then there is the Archive within the Valdez Museum on Hazelet Street, which houses many different collections that reflect the history of Valdez, Prince William Sound and the Copper River Basin.

The Valdez Museum on Egan reopened to the public on July 1, 2020 after a 3-month closure due to health concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic, but the Remembering Old Valdez Exhibit (ROVE) at the Valdez Museum on Hazelet St. remains closed for this summer season. The Archive is open to researchers by appointment only. Staff continue to keep the Museum’s online program offerings creative, current and meaningful. Peruse the list below, and keep checking for new workshops and activities to be added on this list!

“What is it Wednesday?”

This week’s mystery item from the collection is literally “heavy metal!” Since none of the Facebook live viewers ventured to guess, Museum Curator Andrew Goldstein shared his first clue–the brand name, Fomite stamped on the base. Turns out it’s a Fomite Pumping Unit manufactured from the 1930’s to the 1950’s used to fight fires of various kinds. For the whole story click here.

LIVE From the Archive-Anonymous Donations

What do you do if you want to donate something to the collection? WELL YOU CAN’T! That’s the word from Museum Curator Andrew Goldstein who uses this group of beaded items to illustrate why. He says without the previous owner signing off the items can’t be added to the Museum’s collection without going through a big long legal process. And he tells you the right way to donate your items. Just click here for the whole story.

“What is it Wednesday?”

Nipping Press

This week’s mystery object is indeed some kind of press–but, “what exactly was it used for?” That is the real question. Museum Curator Andrew Goldstein uncovered a host of answers–book binding, pressing flowers, stamping logos on fish crates and it even served as a sort of 19th Century copy machine. He ends the broadcast by saying he hopes it made a “good impression” with the Facebook viewing audience! Click here to see Andrew’s wry smile when he says that.

“What is it Wednesday?”

Yiddesh and a Railroad Spike–What do they have in common? Museum Curator Andrew Goldstein tells you the whole story. Click here.

LIVE From the Archive-Raptora Borealis Exhibit

This week Museum Curator Andrew Goldstein gives a guided tour of the Museum’s newest exhibit offering: Raptora Borealis: Alaska’s Birds of Prey, Art by Kevin Crowley. It’s an online exhibit showcasing the artist’s woodcut prints of the birds of America’s northern latitudes. The exhibit explores the birds of prey of Alaska and their connections to folklore, traditions, historical and scientific lore. Click here to join Andrew’s tour. Click on the bird names above and go directly to the online exhibition.

“What is it Wednesday?”

Museum Curator Andrew Goldstein answers the burning question, “Who owned the very first VALDEZ vanity license plate when they were issued in 1969? He then goes on to show an array of Alaska plates issued over the years, giving lots of history and fun facts coveted by license plate collectors. Click here to learn more.

LIVE From the Archive-Making Storage Mounts

SKIPPY’S BACK!! This lovable pest from a past episode is back, and making droll comments to Museum Curator Andrew Goldstein who uses him to illustrate how best to preserve your fragile items. You’ll also get an up close look at an ancient mastodon tooth from the VMHA collection. Click right here to see it all!

“What is it Wednesday?”

These are objects from the collection that Museum Curator Andrew Goldstein picked this week to use in a discussion of items related to symbolism and iconography; and how perceptions change over time. To learn more click here.

LIVE From the Archive-Found Objects

When strolling along a trail or historic site you see a really cool object on the ground it can be very tempting to pick it up. DON’T!! That’s the word from Museum Curator Andrew Goldstein who says the setting of a found artifact is very important, and if moved, clues to its use and history can be lost. Andrew gives several examples and more useful tips for artifact hunters in his video. Click here to watch.

“What is it Wednesday?”

This week’s guessing game centers around a tale of Hillary Clinton and rumors of her working on an Alaskan “slime line” then getting booted off. Did she or didn’t she??? And what about the rumor of her pink slip becoming part of the Museum’s Collection? Curator Andrew Goldstein used his sleuthing skills to learn the whole truth–with a little help from a Museum visitor last summer. He reveals the truth while filming on location by Kelsey Dock in Valdez where it all took place. Click here to find out.

LIVE From the Archive-Adding to the Collection

1903 photo of Charles and Lillian Wulff in their Valdez Home

Watch Museum Curator Andrew Goldstein play with dolls and also weave a tale of this Victorian Era family as he unveils an extraordinary box of meaningful objects donated to the Museum by Janie Bennett of Bellingham, Washington. Old photos in solid brass frames, an array of antique dolls, exquisite jewelry and more–you can see them all by clicking here.

“What is it Wednesday?”

Four pieces of polished ivory strung together, an item from the Museum’s Native Alaskan collection in which the artifacts are connected to Native cultures from our region. Museum Curator Andrew Goldstein says records identify it as a Bow Tightener. Although he freely admits to not knowing exactly how it works, Andrew shares a lot of interesting history pertinent to its use. Follow along by clicking here.

LIVE From the Archive-Living History

This segment was filmed when the 2020 Valdez Gold Rush Days celebration would have taken place, but was cancelled due to COVID-19. Nonetheless, Museum Curator Andrew Goldstein appears on camera all spiffed up in Gold Rush period dress, complete with striped vest and bowler hat to talk about the subject of “Living History.” This is when an interpreter weaves historical tools, activities and dress into an interactive presentation to give observers and participants a sense of stepping back in time. Learn more about this popular practice museums have been using for over a century by clicking here.

“What is it Wednesday?”

Museum Curator Andrew Goldstein says the original records ID this week’s mystery object as possibly being an auto wheel rim. Well it is indeed a car part, but using his sleuthing skills he learned that it was part of an engine to a Ford Model T from the Owen Meals Ford Dealership in Old Town Valdez. Andrew then leads you down the path of Owen Meals and his many entrepreneurial endeavors as well as his role in the relocation of Old Valdez to its new town site. Follow along by clicking here.

Wood engraving block of a 1926 Model T Coupe

LIVE From the Archive-Transportation History: AVIATION

Aviation is the third video in Museum Curator Andrew Goldstein’s 3-part Valdez transportation series. He calls Bush Piloting an “iconic aspect of Alaskan life” as well an important way to get around this vast state with its many remote road less areas, not to mention challenging and unpredictable weather. And that is exactly why Bush Pilot Harold Gillam stands out. He was known for his prowess in flying under the most extreme weather conditions that included blinding blizzards, gloomy darkness and freezing ice storms! He earned the reputation of a seasoned pilot with the “eyes of a cat.” Andrew has stories to share with you, just by clicking here.

The Valdez Museum’s Bush Pilot Exhibit

“What is it Wednesday?”

Museum Curator Andrew Goldstein’s promo for this week advises, “Don’t get bent out of shape trying to guess.” Indeed the mystery object is made out of solid brass and has suffered some serious damage. It was manufactured between the mid to late 1800’s and related to the All America Route “scam” that is part of how Valdez was founded. What is it? Click here to find out!

LIVE From the Archive-Transportation History: TRAINS

Alaska Home RR, VMHA Collection

In part 2 of this 3-part series Museum Curator Andrew Goldstein gives the history of “train fever” that hit Valdez in the early 1900’s when it was announced that a railroad might be coming to the town. Thoughts were that it would make Valdez the metropolis of Alaska. Goldstein says; “Indeed had Valdez gotten its railway, Valdez very well could have been the financial and cultural capital of the state instead of Anchorage.” But the railroad was never built in Valdez and there’s quite a story behind why not. Click here to learn more.

“What is it Wednesday?”

Is that a bear pulling the sled??? Museum Curator Andrew Goldstein posed the question to his viewers after sharing this photo, circa 1905, from the Museum’s collection. Using digital filters to examine the photo he concluded it likely was a black bear tethered to the sled. But the real mystery object Andrew displays in the following video is a strange looking collar/harness discovered in the archive years after the photo above was found. Take a look and make your guess! Just click here.

LIVE From the Archive-Valdez Transportation History–AUTOMOBILES

In the first of a 3-part video series called “Trains, Planes and Automobiles, Museum Curator Andrew Goldstein focuses on various historical aspects of the transportation industry in Valdez. He points out the fact that Valdez is the northernmost year-round ice free port in the United States, and how that literally, “put Valdez on the map.” He starts this 3-part series with a story about automobiles that is near and dear to him. It’s set in 1907 and centers around an international automobile race. Learn more, click here.

“What is it Wednesday?”

This week Museum Curator Andrew Goldstein initiates a discussion about a an age old topic very relevant for the present time. It centers around an old photo from the Museum’s collection. The photo shows a carriage from a parade float carrying a white man wearing blackface makeup, top hat and cape, depicting a character that might be featured in old time minstrel shows popular during the mid-to late 19th century. Goldstein covers the history of these types of shows, and display numerous other images which he calls “shameful, embarrassing and shocking.” Follow the discussion by clicking here.

LIVE From the Archive-Artifact Appraisals

Museum Curator Andrew Goldstein starts this broadcast by showing a lovely 1920’s dried floral arrangement from the Museum’s collection. That leads into a discussion on how to assess the value of this pressed flower arrangement as well as the value of other objects and artifacts. It takes someone who is a Certified Appraiser–a title among Andrew’s many talents that he does not have. But he’ll tell you how to go about finding one! Learn more by clicking here.

“What is it Wednesday?”

This week’s object of discovery resembles a large wooden caveman’s club, but it was really used in the early 1900’s for playing a sport that later became known as the “national pastime.” What is it? Click here to find out!

LIVE From the Archive-Main Museum Tour

This week Facebook Live viewers were treated to a tour of the Valdez Museum on Egan Drive just prior to its reopening day, July 1, 2020. Since the mid-March COVID-19 closure museum staff have been creating a host of online programming options and making preparations to reopen. They are following new state and federal health guidelines to ensure a safe environment for visitors, volunteers and staff. For more information on the VMHA COVID-19 Mitigation Plan click here. To enjoy Andrew’s online tour click here.

“What is it Wednesday?”

This week’s mystery object looks like an old fashioned black and white mini TV set in a substantial plastic casing. Sorry no photo, but here are a few hints: It is an object manufactured between 1983 – 1988 and was used in an administrative capacity by Alyeska Pipeline Company during the 1989 Exxon Valdez Oil Spill. This object remains in good condition, causing Museum Curator Andrew Goldstein to boast:

“Isn’t she a beauty?!?”

He goes on the open up the casing and show the innards of this mystery object. Have a look yourself and find out what it is. Just click here.

LIVE From the Archivist’s Home

That’s right–this week Museum Curator Andrew Goldstein recorded from home, sporting a spiffy Hawiian shirt! He shares a plethora of information and news about what’s happening now at the Valdez Museum and what’s coming up in the future. He talks about a new face lift for the Yellow Warehouse, aka Remembering Old Valdez Exhibit (ROVE).

And Andrew gives a run down of new exhibits planned for well into 2021. But most exciting of all–Andrew reports on the Museum’s plans for re-opening on July 1, 2020. He’ll tell you all about it! Just click here.

“What is it Wednesday?”

Tune in to learn a host of little known facts about what Museum Curator Andrew Goldstein calls

“one of Valdez’s most underrated historical sites.”

The Pioneer Cemetery is located about 4 miles from the center of town near the ball fields and the Old Town Valdez site. It was used used from the late 1890’s – 1917. Goldstein says it houses numerous rare markers and is “chocked full of history.” And why is this historic site known as the “Chinese Cemetery?” Just click here to learn more!

LIVE From the Archive-Oral Histories, Collecting the Human Story

Oral histories are sound or video recordings in which individuals give their perspective on historical information, or eyewitness accounts of past experiences. Often, in the form of a recorded interview, they help people understand what life was like in a different era. Most importantly says Museum Curator Andrew Goldstein:

“Oral history relates how it FELT to be a participant in past events, and what the interviewee was thinking and feeling at the time.”

In this week’s video Andrew covers the advantages and disadvantages of this type of historical documentation. Click here to learn more.

“What is it Wednesday?”

Museum Curator Andrew Goldstein presents an an array of objects, one in particular, a “Hair Receiver”

reflects the grooming habits of folks in the Victorian Era. He cites one thing you need to keep in mind;

“The Victorians were absolutely obsessed with hair. Unlike today, where we are more obsessed with hair removal, back then they liked to keep theirs.”

How was it used–small pillows, pin cushions, hair wreaths?? Just click here to learn more.

LIVE From the Archive-Mylar Enclosures

This week Museum Curator Andrew Goldstein serves up another informative video about how to take care of your paper collections, keeping them pristine and dirt free! This method is good for double sided documents as well, plus it just requires low cost readily found materials. In the word of Mr. Goldstein:

“If you’re like me, you hate measuring, and there’s absolutely NO measuring involved in this project.”

He’ll tell you how it all works. Just click here.

“What is it Wednesday?”

This edition hits on a popular watering hole in Old Town Valdez, The Pinzon, whose beautiful antique bar now sits in the Museum. The featured object of today’s guessing game sits on top of the bar. Is it beer?

Well . . . . its namesake was actually a whiskey of reputed alcoholic content revered by frequent bar goers. This version of Green River is a non-alcoholic soda likely sold at The Pinzon during prohibition. Learn about the history of this unlikely bar beverage, and just “click” to hear Museum Curator Andrew Goldstein sing the catchy rhyming stanzas of an old time drinking song at the end of his entertaining presentation!

LIVE From the Archive-Time Capsules

Museum Curator Andrew Goldstein weaves the true tale of a sturdy welded metal box that nearly caused a Public Relations disaster! The Museum dedicated a time capsule in July, 1982, but the planned burial and re-dedication of the box was slated for July, 2007. Well, fortunately, a few months prior to that date the curiosity of a co-worker prompted Andrew to remove the time capsule’s top and check its contents. WHOOPS! Find out what happened next when he looked inside by clicking: here.

“What is it Wednesday?”

This week’s edition of Museum Curator Andrew Goldstein’s popular Facebook live artifact identification game prompted a range of guesses.

Is it a red light bulb?

NO. Is it a level? NO. Is it a device to measure barometric pressure? NO.

It’s Vapyr – X!

That’s right. But what does Vapyr-X do? Hint: It’s nickname is “fire grenade.” To learn more about this intriguing object in our collection just click here.

“What is it Wednesday?”

Quench your thirst for knowledge – That’s what Museum Curator Andrew Goldstein promises to do in this week’s Facebook live video. It concerns the colorful history of what was until recently the only brewery in Valdez, founded around the turn of the 20th Century.

Dr. Andres A. VonGunther’s hearty brews reportedly “really packed a punch!” But, if you read the label on the right backwards, you will find the name of VonGunther’s non-alcoholic brew, made to appease supporters of the Temperance Movement. These labels fetch a good price from collectors, and to learn how much, plus many more fun brewery facts, click this link: BEER. P.S. Hang tight through the initial film blips–it’s worth it!

LIVE From the Archive-Object Labeling

In his latest Facebook live visit to the Archive, Andrew Goldstein, Museum Curator, says “funny little numbers attached to artifacts on display” are a way of tracking what’s in the Archive. He says they do it the “old school way” by hand writing ID numbers into a log and later adding them to a data base. Learn more, plus watch Kyle Klause, Curatorial Assistant, demonstrate the labeling process on several pieces in the collection. Just click here!

“What is it Wednesday?”

Your challenge is to guess the oldest object in the Archive. Hint– it’s NOT Andrew Goldstein, Curator of Collections & Exhibitions, but in this week’s video he shares what is!

This chunk of quartz was found up Mineral Creek Canyon near the old Stamp Mill. Andrew pegs the rock’s age at 1 to 1.5 BILLION years old! Here’s another collection item dating way back, but not that far!

This newspaper was published in 1785 and contains a story on Alaska and Prince William Sound written just 5 years after the end of Captain Cook’s expedition to Alaska. Andrew also explores many other treasures from the Museum’s Native Gallery you can see by clicking here!

LIVE From the Archive-Yellow Warehouse Facelift Starts

Andrew Goldstein braves the wind down by Kelsey Dock to show you the construction zone around the Yellow Warehouse, aka Remembering Old Valdez Exhibit aka the Annex, and talks about the building makeover. Then he steps inside while to share the good news of near completion for the Collections Cataloging Project.

View Andrew’s live broadcast from Monday, May 11, 2020 right here.

“What is it Wednesday?”

Andrew wandered across this artifact in the collection, and learned that it’s a close relative to a tool first used by ancient Egyptians to establish straight or horizontal lines in doing construction projects.

One viewer guessed Plumb bob

He was close says Andrew, who researched the artifact by consulting a handy book titled, Museum of Early American Tools. There he found a sketch of someone using what appears to be this same object to process lumber. The string is unwound and stretched to mark a chalk line on the log. Click here for the rest of the story!

LIVE From the Archive-Paper Cleaning

In this edition Andrew Goldstein shares tips on low-cost, easy ways to spruce up your old, yellowing papers and documents without training or special equipment, except for a white plastic eraser ground into crumbs!

This sign, written on a piece of stationary from the Hotel Valdez in Old Town, was placed on the face of a wall clock hanging in the hotel. Why? The clock stopped working! It was there from the 1920’s until 1964, when the Good Friday Earthquake and Tsunami caused severe damage to Old Town and Valdez was eventually moved to its present day town site. Watch Andrew brighten up the sign by clicking here.

“What is it Wednesday?”

The subject of this week’s edition of our popular guessing game presented on Facebook Live looks borderline scary, and host Andrew Goldstein describes it as “a sturdy piece of equipment with moving parts.” Guesses from viewers include – jack or pipe bender?

This machine was used for crushing ore, and with a sly smile Goldstein calls it the “most bad ass name of any object in our collection.” What is It? JAW CRUSHER! To learn more about this fascinating machine click here.

A Surprise Special Guest!

LIVE From the Archive–Paper Eating Critters

Andrew Goldstein, along with his special guest Skippy, teach you how to deal with a variety of critters who enjoy munching on paper, cardboard and cloth. Andrew and Skippy, with the high pitched voice, give an entertaining presentation on how to preserve your important books and papers, keeping them from the ravages of annoying insects like Museum Beetles, Termites, Silverfish and maybe even the likes of Skippy! Click here for more.

“What is it Wednesday?”

In this edition Andrew Goldstein may just have you stumped!

This is one of two mystery objects you can guess at. But to learn the real truth, click here.

LIVE From the Archive-“Makers Marks”

Museum Curator Andrew Goldstein shares a wealth of information on how manufacturer’s labels help identify dates and history behind artifacts in the collection like this 1920’s era Corona typewriter. To learn more click here.

“What is it Wednesday?”

Join Museum Curator Andrew Goldstein for the April 15, 2020 edition of this popular video guessing game of selected mystery artifacts from the VMHA collection. This time he shows a number of curious objects, and some are even electrifying! Check them out right here!

LIVE From the Archive–Artifact cleaning

This segment, produced on Monday, April 13, 2020 gives a wealth of information on the When, How, and Why of cleaning artifacts by Museum Curator Andrew Goldstein. Click on cleanartifact to learn more.

“What is it Wednesday?”

This weekly feature produced by Museum Curator Andrew Goldstein highlights an object or artifact from the Museum’s vast collection. For Wed., April 8, 2020 the mystery object sat on a table, looking very much like a small bicycle with wooden wheels–but What is It? Click here to find out!

What is it?

LIVE From the Archive–Mezzanine Tour

In this segment Andrew Goldstein, Curator of Collections and Exhibitions continues with his “behind the scenes” tour of the Collections Cataloging project. Highlights include a trip up to the mezzanine level of the Valdez Museum on Hazelet aka ROVE (where the Remembering Old Valdez Exhibit lives), the Annex and the Yellow Warehouse. Roughly 300 items have now been cataloged, wrapped, labeled and neatly placed upstairs in storage cubicles. And yes, toward the end of this 12 minute video you WILL see Kyle Klause, Curatorial Assistant “take out a mallet and break something” as Andrew has promised. Just click on this link: viewfromupstairs.

Sneak preview of what’s upstairs

“What is it Wednesday?”

This weekly feature produced by Museum Curator Andrew Goldstein highlights an object or artifact from the Museum’s vast collection. Check out this offering filmed on April 1, 2020: mysterybox.

What is it?

Original LIVE From the Archive

Here is a peek into the Valdez Museum on Hazelet Street which houses the Remembering Old Town Exhibit and the Archive. Museum Curator Andrew Goldstein takes you on a tour showing progress of the Collections Cataloging project that began in the fall of 2019 and will be completed in the spring of 2020. Just click on this link: peekinthevault.