August 23, 2010
Contact: Merrith Baughman
Are you trying to figure out what to do with your old documents, photographs, or other objects that pertain to your family’s homesteading heritage? If so, you might want to consider contacting Homestead National Monument of America. The monument can accept donations of paper documents, antiques, or other historic items. The monument has a collection of over 50,000 items, with all objects, documents, and photographs related to homesteading, the National Park Service, or Homestead National Monument of America. The types of items currently in the monument’s collection vary greatly and include farm implements and implement catalogs and brochures, farm tools, household items, children’s toys, draft animal equipment, medical equipment, photographs, and homestead documents. These objects all tie to our Nation’s homesteading story and play an important role in preserving this part of our Nation’s history.
With the recent changes at Homestead National Monument of America such as the construction of the Heritage Center, the renovation of the Education Center, and the moving of the Palmer-Epard Cabin visitors have many great opportunities for learning about the Homestead Act. There were also many improvements made to better preserve the stories and objects that are forever tied to the Homestead Act. One of these improvements has been the greatly expanded and improved collections storage spaces, the largest of which is viewable through the Visible Storage Window located in the lower level of the Heritage Center. With improved environmental control and compactor shelving, Homestead National Monument of America’s new storage room is at the forefront of museum collection storage.
A recent focus of the monument has been the collecting and preservation of brochures, manuals, and advertising of farm implements dating from between 1862 and 1952. “Many museums collect and display agricultural implements, as does Homestead, but we feel that it is also our duty to preserve literature related to this incredibly important aspect of American life before it deteriorates or becomes lost and forgotten,” says Homestead Superintendent Mark Engler. Because many farmers weren't near a large city, or didn't have easy access to a dealer showroom, catalogs and brochures were often the main way farming tool and equipment companies did their marketing. These catalogs and brochures featured specifications and pictures of the implements, testimonials from customers, and descriptions of their uses.
Items relating to the Homestead Act that are donated to the monument will be preserved for the benefit of future generations so that they might better understand farming practices and the lives of people as related to homesteading. If you would like more information about the donation of agricultural literature, or other objects pertaining to the monument’s mission, please contact Museum Curator Jason Jurgena at 402-223-1716.
Homestead National Monument of America is a unit of the National Park Service located four miles west of Beatrice, Nebraska. Current hours of operation are 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. daily. Admission is free of charge. For additional information, please call 402-223-3514 or visit www.nps.gov/home .