In every local history collection, there is a gem unique to that collection, which epitomizes interest in the area. For Eagle County, we have A History of Eagle County. It was a compilation written by school children and their teachers in the early 1940s, in scrapbook form. Each local community was given a section making eighteen sections total, covering Red Cliff to Basalt. Photographs and maps were included. At some point in the early 1980s, then County Librarian Alan Clarke photocopied the scrapbook, indexed it by names and some subjects, and wrote a preface. Multiple copies were then bound and distributed to the schools and libraries in Eagle County. Photographed copies of the original photographs included were made and those formed the basis for the Eagle County Historical Society’s historic photograph collection. In 2010, thirty years after the Red Book was bound, the Eagle County Historical Society was invited to put a new display into a case in the Eagle County building. Much to our surprise, in that case was the original scrapbook from which the Red Book was derived. The County turned it over to the Historical Society and the Historical Society brought it to the archives in the Eagle Library for preservation. It presents a number of challenges due to its construction and materials.
There are 252 pages total in the scrapbook. Each article is typed on 8.5 x 11 inch typing paper, then rubber-cemented to a sheet of red construction paper, 9 3/16 x 12 1/8 inches. The red construction paper is then rubber-cemented to smooth card stock, perhaps shirt cardboards, 10 x 14 inches. The included photographs and maps are rubber-cemented to the typing paper. Each sheet of card stock is punched with four holes, corresponding to the holes drilled in the wood board covers. The front cover has the title and Mt. of the Holy Cross carved in it. The scrapbooks pages and covers are laced together with a leather thong. By the time this artifact reached the Local History Department, the lacing was run through two holes only and was in several pieces, knotted to keep it intact.
In examining the scrapbook, the following issues were noted:
- severe damage (chipping, bending, tearing) to the card stock page edges in the first half of the scrapbook, most likely from handling
- pages torn and loose at the punched holes and several pages out of order as a result
- rubber cement holding some of the pages together failed and repairs had been made with adhesive tape
- adhesive tape repairs became brittle and additional adhesive tape was applied
- some photographs separated from the typing paper
It was decided to disassemble the scrapbook, interleave the pages with acid free tissue paper and store it in acid free boxes. The covers will be stored separately. As the process began, the importance of the scrapbook became glaring. It contains the original photographs included in our historical photo collection that had previously been available only as photographed copies. As part of the interleaving process, each original photograph was scanned, replacing the scan from a copy. Some of the photographs in the book had never been added to our collection so that was done, adding 21 new images.
There were also interesting items added to the scrapbook that were not there originally. At some point, the maps had been microfilmed in black and white by Eagle County and the film inserted into aperture cards. Those cards were tucked behind the original maps. Those were scanned as well and uploaded to our website. In the words of Alan Clarke, “History can be the record of people’s memories. It need bear no ‘historians’ stamps nor put forward scholarly claims. Because it is more spoken than written, it can tell tales of beginnings and of adventures in a past that has slowly grown to become the present. All of this it can do with the candor of conversation with no particular claim to objectivity because this history is people and what they remember. …”