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Preserving history: Gila Historical Museum

Historical Museums play an important role in communities across America. They are the repositories of local lore, and family histories. They share a common desire with the community to preserve what has gone before and make it available to future generations. Our own Historical Museum has been called “an exceptional gem” by one researcher who used its well organized library of photographs and books dating back to the 1880’s to write a book.

Director, Bill Haak, has been instrumental in preserving the Museum’s library and growing its resources since taking over the position in 1999. At that time he inventoried the entire contents of the Museum including the nearly 4000 photographs scattered in the archives. The photographs have since been meticulously cataloged by date and topic and placed in protective sleeves.

Historical Museums play an important role in communities across America. They are the repositories of local lore, and family histories. They share a common desire with the community to preserve what has gone before and make it available to future generations. Our own Historical Museum has been called “an exceptional gem” by one researcher who used its well organized library of photographs and books dating back to the 1880’s to write a book.Gila Historical  2549

Director, Bill Haak, has been instrumental in preserving the Museum’s library and growing its resources since taking over the position in 1999. At that time he inventoried the entire contents of the Museum including the nearly 4000 photographs scattered in the archives. The photographs have since been meticulously cataloged by date and topic and placed in protective sleeves.

“Actually we now take copies of the originals and put them in the sleeves for the public to look at,” Haak explained. “With a kind reminder to please not steal them, he added with a smile. “We had trouble with the originals walking out the door….so we don’t display them anymore.”

Haak, himself is the author of two books on the area; Copperbottom Tales; a collection of short stories on the early mining days and Globe’s Historic Buildings, a look at the history and the architecture of many of the grand buildings which make up Globe’s downtown district. He and his wife, Lynn are currently working on a pictorial book, which will include 200 photos of the area. Published by Arcadia Press, the book is due out in January and will be available through the Museum.

Gila Historical  2551
Tom Conto, Lynn Haak, Dorothy Tippett and charlie Snow at the Museums Christmas Party. All are Board Members.

Bill Haak is quick to point out the generous gifts and donations from others – mostly local families and those with ties to the area- whose contributions have made a significant impact to quality of the Museum’s collection.

“Take for instance the ladies of the Mormon Church who not only documented all the marriages in the area since 1881,” he said pointing to a neat line of black, three ring binders, but they also took it upon themselves to walk the cemetery, mapping the location of graves and collecting records from the local mortuary to compile a comprehensive list of who is buried here.

(The Old Globe cemetery contains many of Globe’s founding families and the occasional famous person, including the Indian Scout, Al Sieber, who was killed while working on the Roosevelt Dam.)

The Historical Museum is located in the old Mine Rescue Station (same complex as the Chamber of Commerce and directly across from the mine tailings.) As Haak explained, “This building was deeded to us in 1988 by the Triple S Corporation who bought it from City Service (who at the time owned a large stretch of property along hwy 60). In 1989, the museum’s building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and a new wing was added in 1999, bringing it to its current square footage. The museum operates on a tight budget with half of its funding coming from the local bed tax and the rest generated in dues, donations and fundraising efforts. It operates 6 days a week thanks to its director and many volunteers.

This has been a banner year for the Museum thanks to brisk sales of “Globe” by Clara T. Woody & Milton Schwartz (originally published in 1977), and Donna Andersons’ widely acclaimed historical account of Globe which was 2 years in the making and came out last year for the Centennial. Bill Haak calculates that the Museum has sold just over $20,000 worth of books this year on the area. That bodes well for the future of the museum and its staff, who continue to gather, preserve and catalogue the history of this area.

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About Linda Gross

Writer, photographer. Passionate foodie, lover of good books and storytelling. Lives in Globe. Plays in the historic district. Travels when possible.

One comment

  1. I am looking for a book, a copy of which was given to my mother by (unknown) . It was a factual diary of a families quest to recover from a drought in Colorado . They traveled by wagon and horseback with their cattle ,many of which were surrendered to Mexican Banditos along the way to avoid conflict . They crossed the Salt River by dismantling the wagons and other large items , so they could lower them down then up the other side , where they would have to re-assemble them to continue . Furthermore, they eventually settled in what (I believe to be) Globe , and found a cork barked tree to use to make bottle stoppers . One of my favorite quotes is “We made 14 miles today , a good day for travel.” . It was written (I believe) by the daughter from her Grandmothers Diary . It is a wonderfully written book , and I would like to find another copy to pass it down to my Family . I loaned it out and forgot who I lent it to .

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