As the year is coming to a close, I’ve been thinking back on the new donations CCHS got throughout the year. We received 130 donations of objects and archival materials. That means that over the course of the year we added 237 individual objects and hundreds of paper-based items like photographs, scrapbooks, and documents to our collection. Each items helps us tell the story of Chemung County. While all of the objects are wonderful, I do have my favorites.
Three Piece Traveling Dress, c. 1900
I have always loved historic fashion. I love the beauty of elaborate dresses and appreciate the skill that went into making them. I love that clothing was worn by a specific person, often for a specific event. So much can be learned from a garment and so many stories can be told. This traveling gown was worn by Helen Innes Mills around 1900. It is made of black velvet with satin trim and has two different bodices that can be worn with the skirt. Inside one bodice is a tag that reads The G. E. Weaver Co. Elmira, N.Y. In addition to this gorgeous dress, we also have a picture of Helen. It is wonderful when we can actually see the person who wore the historic clothing.
Police Items from Both Ends of the 20th Century
This year we received two donation, quite coincidentally, related to the Elmira Police Department. One donation was of items from the early 1900s that were owned by Detective Sergeant Charles Gradwell. Sergeant Gradwell and Police Chief John J. Finnell were murdered March 27, 1915 at a boarding house on Baldwin Street, Elmira. CCHS was given items such as his Colt revolver, handcuffs, and night stick, as well as his patrol diaries.
Items from the Holmes collection
Ku Klux Klan Sword
KKK sword with inset detail photo of handle
Undergarments from the 1950s and 1960s
Did I mention that I love historic clothing? Undergarments are a particular favorite of mine. I was thrilled to receive this donation because CCHS does not have many undergarments from the mid to late 20th century. Maybe people do not consider things from that period as museum-worthy (how can something they wore be in a history museum when they are still so young?) or perhaps there is some level of embarrassment in donating your underwear for research and possible display. Either way, I hope that more people choose to donate all types of objects from the 1950s and 1960s and onward so we can strengthen that portion of our collection.
Blue Star Service Banner from WWII
Albert Oberg’s service banner