An Essay on Rosa Parks by Chautauquan Becky Stone

The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear?

From Psalm 27, one of Rosa’s two favorite psalms

Rosa Parks is often thought of as quiet and demure, a devout Christian and a stoic supporter of non-violent civil disobedience. Those who knew her well understood that this was only part of the picture – the public part. She had always been an activist and a bit of a rebel.

Rosa’s mother and her maternal grandparents raised her. She was greatly influenced by grandparents who had very different responses to their lives as slaves. Her grandmother was a Christian who stood strong in her faith in God and His gospel of Love. Her grandfather, the son of his slave mother and their master, was driven by his hatred of white people. He stood armed and ready to fight the Ku Klux Klan whenever their home in Pine Level, AL, was threatened and he dreamed of following Marcus Garvey back to the motherland in Africa. Rosa was a blend of the two.

Rosa grew into a very private person. She felt strongly about race issues, but had never discussed them with anyone outside of her family until she met Raymond Parks. “Parks,” as she called him, was actively involved in the NAACP. He met regularly with the local NAACP committee working on the Scottsboro Boys case. He continued that work after he and Rosa married. The committee met in their home secretly with pistols on the table just in case . . . Parks asked Rosa to wait on the porch outside during the meetings so she would not hear their conversation. That way, if the men were arrested, she could honestly say she did not know what they were saying.

Rosa joined the NAACP and was an active member, serving as secretary and the head of the NAACP youth activities — including their effort to desegregate the Montgomery public library. They failed, but the young people learned how to take a stand against segregation and for personal dignity. Rosa had been thrown off a Montgomery City bus 12 years before the famous incident in 1955. Starting in 1943, Rosa doggedly went to register to vote three times before she “passed the test” and had the privilege of paying the $16.50 poll tax so that she could finally vote in 1946. In the summer of 1955, she received a scholarship to attend leadership training at the famed Highlander Folk School in Tennessee and was profoundly influenced by Myles Horton and grass roots organizer Septima Clark. Rosa regularly gave her lunch hour to helping Fred Gray, a young black attorney, with his office. As the secretary of the NAACP, she kept current with all the cases in which they were seeking action. She became a supporter of both Martin Luther King, whom she considered a good friend, and Malcom X, whom she never met, but did hear speak a week before he was assassinated.

Rosa said in a 1967 interview, “I don’t believe in gradualism or that whatever is to be done for the better should take forever to do.” She was always ready for action. Refusing to give up her bus seat that fateful day in 1955 was almost instinctive for Rosa; because she was tired of giving in, being pushed around, seeing people treated badly because of the color of their skin, obeying Jim Crow laws, and being oppressed. She was never one to let fear overwhelm her: “When one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear.” Rosa Parks was primed and ready for action, as was all of the black population of Montgomery AL in 1955. They simply seized the moment.

 

Quotes from Rosa regarding the incident on the bus:

The only “tired” I was, was tired of giving in.

When one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear.

I would have compromised my dignity if I had buckled one more time to the white establishment and relinquished my seat.

Your behavior must be above reproach . . . this is how you gain the respect of others.

Segregation itself is vicious and to my mind there is no way you could make segregation decent or nice or acceptable.

Love, not fear, must be our guide.

Books:

Rosa Parks – A Life by Douglas Brinkley

Ms. Stone’s notes: This is the book I rely on extensively. It is extremely well researched and written very clearly and objectively. His bibliographical notes are excellent. I have read quite a few titles from it. My favorites: The Strange Career of Jim Crow by C. Vann Woodward; The Montfomery Bus Boycott and the Women Who Started it by Jo Ann Robinson; Making Whiteness by Grace Elizabeth Hale.

Rosa Parks – My Story by Rosa Parks and James Haskins

 

Becky Stone is a storyteller who also has training as an actor. She has performed as a storyteller, actor, singer, and dancer for 45 years when raising four children, teaching, directing, and small magazine publishing with her husband has allowed.

In 2002, the Greenville, South Carolina Chautauqua Society contacted the Asheville-Buncombe North Carolina Library to see if they could recommend someone to portray Pauli Murray the following year. They were put in touch with Becky. That began her Chautauqua career. She has portrayed Pauli Murray, Harriet Tubman, and Rosa Parks for Greenville and several other Chautauquas. She also regularly performs these characters using the Chautauqua format for schools, churches, libraries, and universities.


An Essay on Jane Addams by Chautauquan Annette Baldwin

Valiant Choices

Jane Addams was among the first generation of America’s college-educated women. Her personal struggle to oppose the conventions of society and to find a deeply meaningful purpose to her life, led ultimately to her decision to cofound Chicago’s Hull-House, the first major social settlement in the United States. Addams would become an inspiring and influential leader among the most intellectual and productive reformers in the late 19th and early 20th century Progressive Reform Movement, which sought to alleviate the myriad of economic, political and social ills rising from the Industrial Revolution and the rampant growth of America.

In her lifetime, Jane Addams was a near legend – internationally known and respected. Hull-House opened in September 1889, and while Stanley Coit’s Neighborhood Guild in New York City predated Chicago’s settlement house by one year, Hull-House became the most well-known effort where educated young men and women with a commitment to social reform came to live among the poor, especially the immigrant poor, to provide cultural and educational programs and confront the injustices pervading the lives of the powerless. Addams was a natural-born leader with the capacity to attract dozens of intelligent and eager young women – and men – from around the country, many of whom became exceptional leaders in the various individual reform movements. They arrived at Hull-House to help make possible Jane Addams’ dream of providing a social and political haven for the millions of immigrants flocking to Chicago with their own dream: a better and fuller life. Instead, the horrifically overcrowded west side neighborhoods of the City and the resulting deplorable sanitation conditions, compounded by the exploitation of the immigrant by industry and commerce, created an abysmal setting which perpetuated poverty and disease for the thousands living in the tenements, producing fear and hatred by American citizens for the unfamiliar cultures and customs invading the city.

As one of American’s greatest humanitarians Jane Addams had, in her own words, “an unfaltering optimistic faith in human nature.” Her life was ordered by her conviction that the inequities of human life could be brought to balance Addams efforts and leadership, as well as the dedication of the Hull-House residents initiated important progressive reforms: industrial safety, juvenile justice, immigrant rights, labor reform, and child welfare. Jane Addams was first vice president of the National Woman Suffrage Association, first chairman of the Woman’s Peace Party, and founder of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. She maintained an active, international speaking schedule and was a prolific writer, authoring eleven books and dozens of magazine articles on the enormous issues of her day.

Addams advocacy for peace led her to denounce U.S. entry into WWI, to spearhead the American Woman’s Peace Party, which became a section of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. After more than 20 years hailed as an American heroine for her work for social justice, her vision for peace and Addams herself was condemned by the press, the public, associates, and separated in principle from friends. Yet Jane Addams, as she had always managed to do, remained resolute in her ideologies. In 1931, she would receive the Nobel Prize for Peace.

Quotes:

“People should be dealt with on the level of their highest potentialities.”

“It is through discussion that we learn tolerance.”

“Free speech is the greatest safety valve of these United States.”

“Decent housing, better parks and playgrounds, and good schools produce better citizens.”

Bibliography:

Jane Addams: Spirit in Action, Louise W. Knight. W.W. Norton & Company, Scranton, PA, 2010.

Jane Addams and the Dream of American Democracy, Jean Bethke Elshtain. Basic Books, the Perseus Books Group, New York, NY, 2002.

Twenty Years at Hull-House, Jane Addams. Print on demand from Empire Books, New York, 2013.

 

For 20+ years, actor and lecturer Annette Baldwin, who resides in Illinois, has been creating and performing first-person portrayals of unconventional and inspiring women. She has appeared in nearly 200 cities across 18 states, performing at public libraries, historical societies and museums, professional associations, community organizations, colleges and universities, and government agencies. Her Jane Addams has been performed at Hull-House, Chicago; for the Hull-House Association, Chicago, and at the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Ms. Baldwin’s portrayals of fashion designer Coco Chanel, Civil War spy Elizabeth Van Lew, journalist Dorothy Thompson, woman’s rights advocate Susan B. Anthony, and sculptor Louise Nevelson have appeared variously on the Chautauqua stages of Maryland, New Hampshire, Illinois, Missouri, Nevada, and Colorado (High Plains, Greeley). In 2009, Annette performed on the Two Rivers Chautauqua stage as Coco Chanel.


An Essay on Alexander Hamilton by Chautauquan Hal Bidlack

Thinking Continentally

Alexander Hamilton was a man who thought broadly. He believed our nation would be best served by men who were “continental in their thinking.” He meant this in the fullest possible meaning: geographically, politically, economically, culturally, and legally.

Hamilton was a soldier, a political philosopher, a propagandist, a financier, and a founder. By the time of his death at the age of 47, Hamilton had become the chief architect of the American economic system, the midwife to its legal system, and the enemy or friend of the most powerful men in the nation.

As a Founding Father, Hamilton was one of the most important, perhaps second only to General Washington. To most Americans Hamilton remains a vaguely disquieting figure, known more for how he died (mortally wounded in a duel) than for what he did in life. The echoes of Weehawken N.J., the bluff where his life ended in his “interview” with Aaron Burr, have profoundly shaped Hamilton’s modern legacy. Hero or melancholic, suicide or principled man, Hamilton’s duel with Burr had an immediate and cataclysmic impact on both men’s political and personal futures. Hamilton’s was extinguished by a lead mini-ball, Burr’s by the reverberations of shooting down a great, if flawed, man.

Alexander Hamilton served his country in three major ways. First, he served with the quill. As the principal author of the Federalist Papers, Hamilton was critical to helping Americans of both his era and ours understand the ideas, views, and beliefs of the Founding Fathers. The Papers were both propaganda and philosophy.

Secondly, Hamilton served his country in public office. Most critically, he was the first Secretary of the Treasury. In that position, he worked tirelessly to put our nation on a firm financial foundation. His understanding that a well-managed debt is an important tool in fueling economic prosperity, as well as his support of a national bank, and his profound influence with President Washington all support the claim that he was the most important Secretary of the Treasury ever.

Finally, he served his country bravely and well in war. Near the beginning of the Revolutionary War, in August of 1775, Hamilton first saw fire rescuing twenty-one 9-pound cannon from the Battery in New York under fire from HMS Asia. He served as General Washington’s closest aide from March of 1777 to April of 1781, and ended his revolutionary service by leading a critical attack at Yorktown on October 14, 1781.

Yet Hamilton can also be seen as the new American: a man who rose through society propelled only by his intelligence and energy, who became far more than seemed likely at his birth He was hated by enemies, and loved by his family and friends. Hamilton’s legacy, therefore, maybe that he was the herald, the prototype of the New American: strong of will, confident of purpose, with the encumbrances of human frailties. History does a disservice when he is remembered merely for how he died. It was his life that was far more interesting, and far more important. Hamilton resonates through the ages.

 

Hal Bidlack has performed around the country as Alexander Hamilton for nearly twenty years. His work as Hamilton has been seen on both national and local television. His performances have been seen in auditoriums, libraries, and museums around the country. He has performed Hamilton for a wide array of audiences, including federal judges, schoolchildren, and historians.

Bidlack is a retired career military officer. During his years in the military, he served as Deputy Director of the Air Force Institute for National Security Studies, was posted to the United States Department of State in Washington, and was as an ICBM launch officer and instructor. He also served at the White House, as Director of Global Environmental Affairs for the National Security Council. He taught Political Science at the United States Air Force Academy for 17 years. Bidlack holds academic degrees from the University of Michigan, including a doctorate in Political Science. He currently serves on the staff of a United States Senator.

Additional information can be found here.


An Essay on John James Aububon by Chautauquan Brian “Fox” Ellis

John James Audubon

1785 – 1851

A man of many first, Audubon was the first to paint every known bird in North America, more than 465 species, including more than a dozen birds that he was the first to scientifically describe, naming them for his friends. He was the first man in America to band a bird, proving that they migrate. He followed their migrations and wrote 5-10 pages about every bird he painted, published in seven volumes as the Ornithological Biographies. Less well known, he was a best-selling author of his day, publishing 50 short stories about his travels and travails known collectively as the “Delineations of American Scenery.” He was also the first to attempt to paint all of the four legged animals that give birth to live young, Viviparous Quadrupeds.

Most importantly, he transformed ‘scientific illustrations’ raising the skill of the draftsmen to the level of fine art, moving from flat, lifeless, two-dimensional dead birds, to dancing, flying, hunting, feeding, living, breathing birds drawn within their native habitat with scientifically accurate trees and flowers, including the differences between male and female birds, creating truly informative and inspiring paintings.

Every wildlife artist since has given his due to John James Audubon.

Born as the illegitimate son of a plantation owner who was involved in the slave trade, his father also ran the British blockades and helped America to win our revolution. Audubon later lied about his birth claiming to have been born in the Louisiana Territory, before Napolean sold it to Jefferson, so he could claim American Citizenship.

He was mostly self-taught as an artist, developing a unique technique of wiring birds into position and then painting them predominately in watercolors, but using some gouache and pastel crayons to add texture. These original paintings were then rendered into copper engravings by Robert Havell Jr. in London. The prints were hand colored and then sold by subscription. Special paper was needed, double elephant portfolio, so each bird could be painted life size. In the end, there was little profit from this massive project, but “The Birds of North America” made his reputation. They were later rendered into smaller stone lithography prints by J.T Bowen, (who also engraved the mammals), so that they could reach a broader audience. This is where Audubon made his wealth.

At every stage Audubon sought the best engravers, and was at the cutting edge of printmaking technology.

Original Havell Edition prints today range from $1000 for smaller birds in poor shape to $200,000 for mint condition, highly desirable birds. For the best modern reprints, Princeton editions range from $100 – $800 in price. But please note that until recently, Audubon was the most reproduced artist in the world… so many of the cheaper reproductions are worth less than the frame you might find them in at your local antique store.

  • Audubon painted more than 1000 specimens of 465 different species of birds.
  • Several of the birds he painted are now extinct, including the Carolina Parakeet, Passenger Pigeon, Great Auk, Heath Hen, and the Ivory Billed Woodpecker.
  • The Audubon Society was founded years later by a committee which included George ‘Bird’ Grinnell, who, as a boy, took lessons from Audubon’s wife, Lucy. Grinnell suggested the name.

A Few Favorite Quotes:

“I never for a day gave up listening to the songs of our birds, or watching their peculiar habits, or delineating them in the best way I could.” – John James Audubon

“In my deepest troubles, I frequently would wrench myself from the persons around me and retire to some secluded part of our noble forests.”  – John James Audubon

“Neither this little stream, this swamp, this grand sheet of water, nor these mountains will be seen a century hence as I see them now.” –John James Audubon

“…nothing, after all, could ever answer my enthusiastic desire to represent nature, except to copy her in her own way, alive and moving!”  – John James Audubon

In a letter to a friend Audubon’s wife, Lucy, wrote of her husband’s loyalty, saying she knew, “My only rival for my husband’s affection is every bird in North America.”

 

A Brief Bibliography:

Audubon, John James, Writings and Drawings. Library of Congress/Penguin Putnam, 1999

Always go to the source! Read what Audubon wrote in this fine collection of essays, letters and excerpts from his Ornithological Biographies and field journals.

Streshinsky, Shirley, Audubon – Life and Art in the American Wilderness. Random House, 1993 The best of the recent biographies, this book is a good balance of his personal life, his art and his ornithology.

Souder, William, Under A Wild Sky, North Point Press, 2004  This is the biography for the serious birder who would like to better understand Audubon’s field ecology and ornithology.

Rhodes, Richard, John James Audubon – The Making of an American. Knopf, 2004 Though the best selling of the recent biographies, highly recommended, and critically acclaimed, it dwells mostly on his personal life, the preference of some.

Hart-Davis, Duff, Audubon’s Elephant. Henry Holt 2004 For the art historian and all of those fascinated by Audubon’s technique as an artist, the process of printmaking and the selling of subscriptions, this is the book for you.

 

Brian “Fox” Ellis is an internationally renowned storyteller, author and naturalist. He has been a featured speaker at regional and international conferences on environmental concerns.  Fox is also a museum consultant who has worked with The Field Museum and The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library. He is the Artistic Director for Prairie Folklore Theatre, a unique theatre company that celebrates ecology and history through original musical theatre. Fox is the author of fifteen books including the critically acclaimed Learning From the Land: Teaching Ecology Through Stories and Activities, (Libraries Unlimited, 1997/2011), and The Web at Dragonfly Pond, (Dawn Publications, 2006).

Time Line of Audubon’s Life

April 28, 1785 – Born Jean Rabine on the Isle of Santa Domingo, what is now Haiti.

1788 – On the verge of the Haitian Uprising, Audubon’s father flees Haiti. His son is raised by a step-mother near Nantes, France on the Loire River.

Late 1790’s – Audubon may have studied painting with Jacques-Louis David at The Louvre.

1803 – After years of bloodshed on the barricades, as the Napoleonic Wars were heating up, to avoid conscription, Audubon was smuggled out of the country to live the life of the bon vivant on his father’s estate near Philadelphia, where he begins to paint “The Birds of America.”

1805 – Audubon is the first man in North America to band a bird, proving that they do migrate.

1807 – 1820 Audubon moves over the Appalachian Mountains to establish a trading post, first in Louisville and later in Henderson, Ky. It is in Henderson that he raises a family, builds a trading post and grist mill and later goes bankrupt to be threatened with debtor’s prison. He continues building his portfolio of birds.

1820 – After a short stint drawing charcoal portraits in Louisville, the starving artist moves his family to Cincinnati, OH. He works at the Western Museum, teaches art classes and finally commits his life to painting all of the birds of North America. His wife begins teaching to help support the family, which she continues the rest of her days.

October 1820 – Audubon makes his first pilgrimage down the Mississippi following the annual migration of birds. He brings Joseph Mason, a 12 year old assistant to paint flowers. Eventually, the two of them land in New Orleans before settling at Oakley Plantation near St. Francisville the next summer.

1826 – Audubon makes his first trip to England to find a printer and sell subscriptions to his great work, The Birds of North America.

1830’s – Audubon makes several trips to and fro, making forays into the American wilderness from Nova Scotia to the Florida Keys and back to England to supervise the print making and sell subscriptions.

1838 – The Birds of America is finished. What costs approximately $2000 then, recently sold for $11.5 million.

1840’s – Audubon begins work on the Viviparous Quadrupeds, (mammals), but his failing eyesight and senility lead his sons to finish the project. With his fame and fortune he buys 30 acres of Manhattan Island, NYC, where he spends his final days, dying in January 1851.

January 27, 1851 – Audubon passes away with his family at his side on his farm in New York.


Guess who’s coming to Chautauqua?

Jane Addams

We are excited to welcome the internationally known humanitarian and peace advocate Jane Addams, first American woman recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Jane Addams was quick to recognize the social injustices surrounding Chicago’s newly-arrived European immigrants. She believed “People should be dealt with on the level of their highest potentialities.” Her passion led her, along with Ellen Gates Starr, to open Hull-House in September 1889, a social settlement house in Chicago where she and her residents lived and worked together. She inspired others with her vision and plans; Hull-House grew to become a complex consisting of 13 buildings including a kindergarten and daycare, employment bureau and citizenship classes.

A quiet, dignified woman, Addams was not above doing whatever was needed to improve the deplorable housing and working conditions of those living in the Hull-House neighborhood, by calling for improved city sanitation laws and state legislation for fairer factory conditions. Her advocacy included co-founding the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) as well as serving as 1st vice president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association.

Addams was a key figure in the Peace Movement and founded the Women’s International League of Peace and Freedom (WILPF), through which she advocated for mediating peaceful solutions to war. Her outspokenness during the war provoked verbal attacks and resulted in her removal from the Daughters of the American Revolution, yet ultimately ended with her receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931: a tireless advocate for what she believed in. Join us at the Two Rivers Chautauqua September 19th and 20th to hear Jane Addams’ story as portrayed by Annette Baldwin.

–Jennifer Murrell, Mesa County Libraries

Titles recommended by Annette include:

Jane Addams: Spirit in Action, Louise W. Knight. W.W. Norton & Company, Scranton, PA, 2010.

Jane Addams and the Dream of American Democracy, Jean Bethke Elshtain. Basic Books, the Perseus Books Group, New York, NY, 2002.

Twenty Years at Hull-House, Jane Addams. Print on demand from Empire Books, New York, 2013.


Introducing Dr. Julia McHugh

I am pleased to introduce our new Curator of Paleontology, Dr. Julia McHugh. We were very sad when Dr. John Foster took advantage of a wonderful opportunity and became the Director of the Museum of Moab. However, Julia will be a wonderful addition to our team—and she is excited about this opportunity. About joining the Museum staff, Julia commented, “There is such a warmth and wonderful camaraderie among the staff and volunteers at the Museum of Western Colorado. I feel so lucky to be able to become a part of this loving family. I look forward to many years and many new friendships.”

In hiring Julia, the search committee worked very hard for several months and they spoke with some wonderful candidates, but in the end, Julia was the unanimous choice. Julia is coming to us from Tulsa where she was a Senior Research Assistant at the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences. She was also a Research Associate for Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History. She received her degree from the Un  iversity of Iowa where she studied with Christopher Brochu. Prior to that, she earned a Masters from Idaho State University and a B.A. from Hanover College.

A published paleontologist, Julia is looking forward to opening up a new chapter in her professional career at MWC. “I can’t imagine a better place to be a paleontologist than in Fruita/Grand Junction. The beauty and splendor of the Colorado Plateau is only the tip of the iceberg to the treasure of fossils found within it. — I am so impressed that after 130+ years of excavation in this rock unit that new species (like Mymoorapelta and Fruitadens) are still being discovered in it!”

An exciting part of the new curator position is that the MWC is partnering with Colorado Mesa University’s (CMU) Geology Department. Julia will teach one course a semester. This opens quite a few opportunities for the museum as well as students from CMU who are looking for some first-hand field experience. “I am very excited,” commented Julia, “to be coming to the Museum of Western Colorado at the beginning of its new partnership with Colorado Mesa University. Combining the expertise and educational resources of Dinosaur Journey and the Department of Geology is a match made in ‘Paleo-Heaven.’ I have a passion for teaching and am very excited to enhance undergraduate education in the classroom, on the outcrop, and through internships at Dinosaur Journey. I am hopeful we can grow this program into a successful museum studies certificate program, which will promote careers in museums to the next generation.”

As soon as Julia arrived in Grand Junction the third week of June, she has been hard at work with the Dino Digs as well as assessing the opportunities at Dinosaur Journey. Her goals for the future inlcude:

  • Expand our physical footprint to increase space for exhibits, collections, teaching, and fossil preparation.
  • Developing our relationship with Colorado Mesa University through student internships, class interactions, and a museum studies certificate program.
  • Expand our online access through digitizing our collections and creating online educational modules.
  • Continuing the excellent summer experience programs.
  • Continuing high quality scientific research by students and visiting researchers using the vertebrate paleontology collections.

Please stop by Dinosaur Journey to introduce yourself to Julia. I think you will be as impressed as we are!


Who Visits the Museum of Western Colorado: Mesa County Residents

Last month’s newsletter had a profile of visitors from outside Mesa County. This month is a profile of the Mesa County residents who visit the Museum of Western Colorado (MWC).

As a recap, last summer, working with the School of Business at Colorado Mesa University, we surveyed visitors to each site. The study was sponsored in part by the Grand Junction Visitor and Convention Bureau. It looked at both visitors from outside as well as inside Mesa County. This month, we are sharing some of the results for those who are from our own Mesa County communities.

The average Mesa County visitor is 53 years (compared to 46 for out-of-county visitors), a woman (77.2%) and married (75.5%). Almost all have children (82.7%); 42.2% have grandchildren. Interestingly, Cross Orchards tends to be the most popular with singles who do not have children. Museum of the West seems to be the most popular with men while Dinosaur Journey had the highest percentage of women. Educationally, 20.8% have a high school diploma, 24.1% have a college degree and 55.1% have some post-degree training. These statistics are similar to our out-of-county visitors.

When looking at income levels, the data shows that those visiting from Mesa County are very reflective of the local population, more so than for those coming from outside the area. For example, 41.2% of the Mesa County visitors make under $50,00 as compared to 30.7% for those traveling. Conversely, 25.5% of the Mesa County guests make over $76,000 as compared to 46.6% of our travelers. This demonstrates that while there is always room for improvement with our marketing strategies, we are successfully reaching out to a broad cross-section of our community.

When our visitors were asked why they chose to visit the museum, there were some interesting variations. The number one reason for visiting Dinosaur Journey was because they were entertaining children (40.5%) followed next by a special interest in the subject matter (31.9%). Museum of the West was similar though a bit more even (35.4% for children and 29.2% for exhibits/special interest). For Cross Orchards the number one reason was to attend an event/program (35%) with 22.5% for exhibit/special interest. Interestingly, family and friend referrals (usually very high with other museums) were a distant third place at all three museums. Another interesting finding is that men were more attracted to the exhibits while women tended to be coming because of children and events. Overall a high percentage of our Mesa County residents came to at least one of the MWC museums because of a special interest (26.9%) as compared to those who were visiting from elsewhere (13%).

For out-of-county visitors, road signage and the internet are very important. For Mesa County residents, referrals were much more important with 32.8% hearing about MWC this way. This is followed by the “Other” category which included mainly word-of-mouth responses (31.2%). For third place there was more variation between the museums. Road signage was very important for Museum of the West and Dinosaur Journey while Cross Orchards depended more on the newspaper to get the word out.

When asked what the high point of their visit was, exhibits ranked number one overwhelmingly for Dinosaur Journey and Museum of the West. Meanwhile, the volunteers/staff ranked number one for Cross Orchards. Overall, temporary exhibits ranked third followed by the gift shops.

One area needing some immediate attention is the fact that few have been to more than one of the MWC museums. A related finding is that only 13% of those who visit Dinosaur Journey are members as compared to 52.9% for Cross Orchards and 61.4% for Museum of the West. We need to do a better job with cross-promotional marketing. There are many more areas of possible improvement pointed out by the data as well as suggested areas of focus. However, the information is very positive. One of the best findings that demonstrate that our staff and volunteers are doing a great job is that an overwhelming 93.6% are planning a return visit. Now that’s wonderful news!


Guess who’s coming to Chautauqua? Alexander Hamilton

One of the Founding Fathers, the first Secretary of the Treasury, principal author of the Federalist Papers, and infamous dueler, Alexander Hamilton will be coming to Two Rivers Chautauqua September 19th and 20th. Probably best known for his fatal duel with Aaron Burr, Hamilton’s political contributions were second only to George Washington’s in the importance to the history of the creation of our government.

Hamilton wanted the populace to understand the ideas behind the Founding Fathers’ actions, hoping to move Americans from “The passiveness of the sheep in their compositions” to a greater degree of understanding and involvement in their government. As the Secretary of the Treasury at the age of 32, Hamilton focused on our country’s debt and on creating a strong economy. He founded and became the director of the Bank of New York.

His own involvement was via both the pen and the sword. His essays described the powers of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government which became the framework for our democratic system. He later founded the New York Evening Post. Hamilton also fought in multiple battles, served with General Washington as his closest aide, and was at one point put in charge of the day-to-day command over the US Army. He retired as a major general.

His duel with Burr remains controversial; did Hamilton fire a shot or not? Regardless, it seems that Alexander Hamilton made the terrible mistake of dying before his enemies. Join us at the Two Rivers Chautauqua September 19th and 20th to hear Alexander Hamilton’s story as portrayed by Hal Bidlack.

–Jennifer Murrell, Mesa County Libraries

 

Titles recommended by Hal include:

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow, Penguin Books 2004

Affairs of Honor: National Politics in the New Republic, by Joanne B. Freeman. Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2001


Guess Who’s Coming To Chautauqua?

This year for our 9th Annual Two Rivers Chautauqua, we are pleased to present “American Dreams.” The fabulous event will be at Cross Orchards Historic Site, 3073 F Road, September 19 and 20. Save the date!

We are excited to have one of America’s greatest naturalists and wildlife artists, John James Audubon, as portrayed by Brian “Fox” Ellis. Well-known for his birding activities, Audubon was also a brilliant artist, writer and scientist. He was a living example of American history: as one of the first men to walk across America with the Native Americans, he collected hundreds of birds, was the first to band a bird in North America and the first to draw every bird in the continent.

Audubon was good friends with several other artists and scientists. American naturalist Thomas Say contributed descriptions to Audubon’s Birds of America. Growing up during the French Revolution, Audubon knew Napolean and sold one of his first prints to Napolean’s nephew. He also mingled with English botanist and zoologist Thomas Nuttall and explorers Lewis and Clark. Audubon was friendly enough with the duo that, when he went up the Missouri river, Clark loaned him his maps and journals. Years later, at the Lewis and Clark bicentennial, commentary in an unfamiliar handwriting was discovered in the back of Clark’s journal. The note taker was later identified as none other than John James Audubon.


Celebrate Archaeology and Historic Preservation Month in May!

The National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Colorado Historical Society celebrate Archaeology and Historic Preservation Month in May of each year to recognize our rich local, state and national heritage. The theme for Colorado this year is “Heritage at Work”.   From farmers and miners to railroaders and Rosie the Riveter, Coloradans have always been hard workers, eager and willing to build a state that’s now on the forefront of engineering, agriculture, transportation, manufacturing, aerospace, health, energy, and entrepreneurship.  Our community—and our own two hands!—shaped the Western Slope’s and Colorado’s working past and future.

As part of this nationwide Preservation Month, The Grand Junction and Fruita Historic Preservation Boards, Palisade Historical Society, Museum of Western Colorado, and the Mesa County Historical Society among other local organizations will sponsor events during the month. This year’s Grand Valley area events are listed below. For a complete listing of statewide events visit here.

For additional information on any of these events, call Kristen Ashbeck at 244-1491 or email kristena@gjcity.org.

Google Downtown Grand Junction Walking Tour – Anytime!

May 7 – Grand Junction Historic Preservation Award
The annual Historic Preservation Award will be presented to Troy and Donna Reynolds for the preservation of their home located at 298 Mahan Street. The presentation will be made at the City Council meeting, 7:00 pm in the City Hall Auditorium, 250 North 5th Street.

May 10 – National Train Day
Come on down to the beautiful 1906 Grand Junction train depot and join the Friends of the Depot in welcoming the California Zephyr AMTRAK passengers to Grand Junction in celebration of National Train Day! Visit the Old Depot! 119 Pitkin Avenue. Trains scheduled to arrive approximately 10:00 am and 3:45 pm.

May 10 –Palisade Guided Walking Tour
Take a Guided Walking Tour of downtown Palisade at 10:30 a.m. or 12:30 p.m. All tours start at the History Center, 311 South Main Street, and last about an hour. There are three routes to choose from, depending on what you want to see. More information and route maps are available at http://www.historicpalisade.org/index.php/historic-guided-walking-tours/
A donation of $5.00 per adult is suggested.
Reservations are required. Contact the Palisade Historical Society by Thursday, May 8. Call (970) 464-2177.

May 13 – Preservation of the Wayne N. Aspinall Federal Building and US Courthouse
Learn about the recently-completed preservation and “greening” of the Federal Building. The project converted it into one of the most energy efficient and sustainable historic buildings in the country. A presentation will be held at the Community Room at the Main Public Library, 530 Grand Avenue at 11:00 am. Then, gather at the Federal Building at 400 Rood Avenue for a tour at 1:00 pm. Please RSVP to 970-244-1491 for the tour, bring photo identification and no cameras please.

May 20 –History Colorado Listening Session
Is Grand Junction’s history important to you? History Colorado wants to hear from you and is hosting a meeting in Grand Junction to better understand the successes and challenges of historic preservation, archaeology, educational programming, and local museum operations in our area. The meeting will be held at the Whitman Building at 248 South 4th Street (Northeast corner of 4th Street and Ute Avenue) 5:30-7:30 pm. To RSVP or for more information call 303-866-2825.

 

Museum of Western Colorado Events

Entire Month of May – Grand Junction Geocaching
Test your geocaching skills and become more familiar with the history of Grand Junction! Participants can pick up a packet at the Museum of the West and try to solve puzzles at various locations around downtown using their own GPS units. Bring your GPS and follow the scavenger hunt through Grand Junction history! Just visit the Museum at 462 Ute Avenue (5th and Ute) anytime during Museum hours or download the packet at the Museum’s website here.

May 3 – Spring Day on the Farm
Bring the family and enjoy the beautiful flowers while soaking up our rich agricultural heritage at Cross Orchards Historic Site, 3073 F Road. Cost is $5.00/adults, $4.00/seniors, $3.50/children or $15.00/family up to six persons.

May 3 – History Day Competition
Grand Junction Preservation Board Chair, David Bailey, will be a state judge at the Colorado History Day Competition in Denver.

May 15 – Oral History of the Business Incubator Center
Jon Maraschin, Executive Director of the Business Incubator Center, will speak on the history and business success of the Grand Junction Incubator that was recently awarded the National Business Incubation Association “Incubator of the Year”. Bring your lunch and enjoy the presentation. The lecture will be held at the Whitman Educational Center at 248 South 4th Street at Noon.

May 16 – Rock Art Exhibit Opening
Man has called the American Southwest home for thousands of years and in that time have truly left their mark. In this exhibit at the Museum of the West, one of the world’s oldest and widely applied forms of communication will be explored: rock art. This exhibit will combine photographs of several rock art styles, themes, and cultures and material evidence from each culture to examine the questions of if rock art is really art, what daily life was like for those that created it, and what rock art and other clues from the past tell us today.

May 16 – Downtown Walking Tour
Join host Zebulon Miracle, the Museum’s Curator of History on an entertaining and informative walking tour to explore some of the fascinating stories, colorful characters and beautiful buildings of Downtown Grand Junction. The tour will begin at the Museum of the West at 462 Ute Avenue (5th and Ute) at 5:30 pm and last until 7:00 pm. Fee: $5.00 per person.

May 19 – Amazing Race
Seventh graders travel through downtown Grand Junction and to the Museum of the West’s Tower to uncover clues and answer questions about local history and historic preservation.