By Michael Wurtz
The Sharlot Hall Museum on Gurley Street is more than great exhibits and great programs. The Museum provides a wide range of museum services for the Central Arizona Mountain region. Among the services is an archive that can be classified as one of the finest in the Southwest. Most importantly, the archive stores your history. Whether your family's name is part of Prescott's history, can be found on street signs or businesses, or you moved here this year from one of the large cities on the West Coast, we have your story.
The staff of the archive has the responsibility of collecting, preserving, and making available to the public the documented history of Prescott, Yavapai County, Arizona, and the Southwest. Much of the Museum concentrates on collecting materials such as textiles and other three-dimensional objects that show us what people used long ago in everyday life. The archive, on the other hand, collects information, two-dimensional evidence, of the area's past such as photographs, documents, ledger books, newspapers, maps, audio tapes, videotapes, and books. All of this information is accessible and as easy to use as a library. All you need to bring is an interest in the past, present, or future of Prescott.
If you consider yourself an "old-timer," come down and find out about your great-grandmother. You may find records from the 1880s that describe not only her death, but where she lived, who her children were, what the names of mines were where her husband worked, and, if your luck continues, her personal diary. If she was buried at the Citizens' Cemetery, you might even find her exact burial plot. The records you might use in this example would include the newspaper, which we have on microfilm going all the way back to the very first paper published in this area on March 9, 1864. You may also look at the funeral records of the Ruffner Funeral Home, or the map and list of people buried at the Citizens' Cemetery. We store over 500 linear feet of paper, which documents Yavapai County history from obituaries to homestead records.
If you are new in town and living in what you believe is an historic home, the archive probably has information for you too. You can look at our old maps of Prescott (the earliest was drawn in 1864) and find out who owned your lot in the 1800s. Then, look through almost ninety years of city directories and find out not only who lived in your house, but also what he or she did for a living. Perhaps you will find the name of one of our oral history narrators who may not only talk about how they used to hide in the closet that you now kick your shoes into each night, but also an account of life in the Palace Bar in the 1930s.
Perhaps the strongest part of our collections is our photographs. Since Sharlot started the Museum in 1927, we have collected over 90,000 photographic images. In fact, next time you go to dinner at your favorite restaurant look up at the historic pictures of Prescott. Most of those came from the Sharlot Hall Museum Archives and Library. These photos document the subtle changes to Prescott, and Yavapai County's, geography from its beginnings through today. Researchers have found photos of their great-grandfather, a mine that was worked by an uncle, their house on South Pleasant before the street was paved, Thumb Butte before the scar tainted its beauty, or a train steaming through the Dells one hundred years ago.
All of this - your history - is available for your perusal. You can come in person (which we recommend if you live in town) or you can contact us via: letter (Sharlot Hall Museum Archives and Library, 415 W. Gurley Street, Prescott AZ 86301), fax (928-776-9053) or e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org). We even take phone calls (928-445-3122). Although the Museum is open seven days a week, the Archives and Library is only open Tuesday through Friday 10:00 AM until 5:00 PM.
Come discover YOUR history.
Michael Wurtz is Archivist at the Sharlot Hall Museum.
Sharlot Hall Museum Photograph Call Number:(archivist desk) Reuse only by permission.
Sharlot Hall Museum archivist, Michael Wurtz, and his staff have the responsibility of collecting, preserving and making available to the public the documented history of Prescott, Yavapai County and the southwest. Here, Mike is 'encapsulating' an article for preservation.
Sharlot Hall Museum Photograph Call Number:(researchers) Reuse only by permission.
Individual researchers in the Library-Archive use a multitude of sources from photographs to microfilm to preserved articles to logs and reference books. The staff and volunteers are readily available to help you in your quest.
Sharlot Hall Museum Photograph Call Number:(students) Reuse only by permission.
Local schools promote use of the Library-Archive in conjunction with school studies by having students learn to work through the maze of available materials for their school projects and assignments. They find it fun and rewarding.