Welcome to the Greeley History Museum Archives, otherwise known as the Hazel E. Johnson Research Center. As Archives Assistant, I spend much of my time locating and researching various resources in our vast collection for patrons such as you. Our reading room offers a quiet and inviting location to sit and learn about what interests you the most about Weld County and Greeley! I have researched many topics including; family genealogies, haunted houses, historical sites, as well as famous Coloradoans.
One famous Coloradoan, who made a huge impact on preserving history in Greeley , was Hazel E. Johnson, the namesake of our archives. Ms. Johnson, a local historian, spent the majority of her life dedicated to preserving and interpreting the local history of Greeley and Weld County . She took in and organized numerous photographs and other items from Greeley residents over her 100 year lifespan. She also wrote historic articles which appeared in the Greeley Journal for 20 years. In 1991, Ms. Johnson donated her large collection to the Greeley History Museum . Like Ms. Johnson, we strive to preserve and interpret the past giving patrons access to the remarkable world that was Greeley ’s past. The Greeley History Museum allows access to many of our collections including that of Hazel E. Johnson, Lew Dakan (a local photographer), and the Helen M. Amesse collection.
Currently, we are preparing the Helen M. Amesse Collection for easier access. In order to do this, staff and volunteers of the Museum inventory, catalog, and carefully re-house each item into storage. Inventory of the items ensures that we catalogue the collection in its entirety. Cataloging of the items into our museum database helps keep track of the items and puts research right at our fingertips. Lastly, we make sure to permanently store all of our archives in our storage facility. The storage facility is temperature and humidity controlled for the best preservation possible. We take all measures for preserving these items so future generations can study and benefit from them as well.
The Helen M. Amesse Collection is a great addition to the Greeley History Museum. Helen left her belongings to the museum which offered insight into rare photographs, documents, diaries, and passports full of Helen’s adventures and travels. Her collection spans the generations of the Hawes, Amesse, and Rockwell families. Having information such as this not only details the life Helen lived with her family, but can also be researched for various topics including women of the past, growing up in Colorado, and life in the early 1900’s. Volunteers and I came across the wedding book and invitations from Helen’s parents, John and Mary Amesse, from 1905. Although weddings have been a long tradition, it is fun to see the changes and differences from an early 1900 wedding, to one of today. I find joy in looking through historic photographs. Although I may not be personally connected to the people in the photograph, I can always drift back in my mind and think of the good old days (and some not-so-good days) of those that lived before me. Researching and preserving the past is our goal for the future.
If you would like to search for your own treasures in the Hazel E. Johnson Research Center, feel free to come down to the garden level of the Greeley History Museum Wednesday to Friday 8:30am to 4:30pm and Saturdays 10:00am to 4:00pm. You may be surprised at the goodies you find!
1972.01.0429.1 Portrait of Hazel E. Johnson, circa 1940-1950, photographer unknown.
AI-3602B Wedding portrait of Mary Amesse, circa 1905, photographer unknown.