A Video Introduction to the AHC (1993)

This is a 1993 video commissioned for the opening of the American Heritage Center’s then new building, the Centennial Complex.  Hugh Downs, a longtime ABC News correspondent and commentator, whose papers are at the AHC, narrates the video.

Because it is many years old, some changes must be noted and lacuna filled in to provide an up-to-date accurate presentation of the Center and its operations.

  • The “Hebard Library,” an extensive collection of publications about Wyoming and by the University of Wyoming, is now housed at the William Robertson Coe Library on UW’s central campus.
  • While the Center’s collections documenting Wyoming and the West by far the largest portion of our holdings, we have also selected judiciously a handful of topics for which we seek nation-wide primary sources.  More information about our collecting areas can be found at https://www.uwyo.edu/ahc/collections/ and from our list of frequent searches at http://ahc.uwyo.edu/usearchives/frequent.htm. A selection of collection Guides can be found at http://ahc.uwyo.edu/usearchives/guides.htm.
  • The video notes the AHC’s use of “acid free folders and Hollinger boxes,” but it should be noted that over the years many of the tools and systems used to administer our collections have evolved.
  • Collection catalog records, mentioned as being available in “OCLC and CARL,” are presently available online at https://uwcatalog.uwyo.edu/. More detailed collection inventories can be accessed at https://rmoa.unm.edu/index.php.
  • The “International Archive of Economic Geology” no longer exists as such, though the collections that once formed the IAEG remain housed and accessible at the AHC. Our economic geology holdings can be searched at http://uwcatalog.uwyo.edu/search/Y?SEARCH=mines+mining&searchscope=3. More information about the Anaconda Mining Company records, the largest of these collections, may be found at  https://www.uwyo.edu/ahc/collections/anaconda/.
  • That restaurant mentioned in the video existed for only 12 months, after which it closed.
  • The AHC is not a museum, but continues to own and exhibit a truly outstanding (though small) collection of Western art, particularly by Alfred Jacob Miller, William Henry Farny, George DeForest Brush, and Charles Remington.  Artwork by Hans Kleiber, on the other hand, has been transferred, along with most of the other artwork originally donated to the Center, to the University of Wyoming Art Museum, with which the AHC shares the Centennial Complex. More information about the Art Museum can be found at https://www.uwyo.edu/artmuseum.

Not mentioned in the video are services and programs that now form the core of the AHC’s mission, which has evolved greatly over the years since this video was produced. Some examples of our expanded services include:

  • Public programs, which have evolved to include author readings, lectures by research fellows, major symposia, and the hosting of Wyoming’s History Day program. More information about the Center’s outreach efforts can be found at https://www.uwyo.edu/ahc/eduoutreach/index.html.
  • The AHC’s Alan K. Simpson Institute for Western Politics and Leadership, an endowed program focused on acquiring the papers and oral histories of political and economic leaders and on related public programming. More information can be found at https://www.uwyo.edu/ahc/simpson/index.html.
  • Digital programs, which include both the curation of “born digital” primary sources (such as digital photos, electronic mail, and the like), as well as the digitization of analog collections. Our digital collections are accessible at https://digitalcollections.uwyo.edu/luna.

The video correctly encourages viewers to “contact the Center’s reference archivists”—to do so send an email to ahcref@uwyo.edu, call 307/766-3756, or send surface mail to Reference, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming, 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3924, Laramie, WY 82071.

In 2010 the AHC received the highest honor possible for a US archives, the Society of American Archivists’ Distinguished Service Award. It marks, perhaps, a fitting endcap to Hugh Downs’ story of his staff researching the best repository for his papers and identifying the Center.

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