Although we cannot visit museums just now, most of us are surrounded by artifacts that connect us to the past. Let us take this time spent in our homes as an opportunity to reflect on the objects that remind us of our shared humanity and our place in the long record of history.
A number of folks joined us in this exercise and shared a photo of one of their favorite personal artifacts, along with a short story of the objects significance. Here we have compiled those submissions so that fellow history lovers may tour a virtual museum of collected memories. We hope you will enjoy connecting with some of the items on "display" here, and that they might remind you of a piece of your own history. Additional contributions to this exhibit are welcomed in the comments.
My husband lost his wedding ring ten years into our marriage which is now in its 38th year. The ring he wears now bears the initials M.B. rather than mine.
When we moved my mother-in-law out of her home and back to Moscow where she grew up, my husband went through metal boxes filled with tools belonging to the grandfather, a plumber in Moscow, he is named after. Among the pipe wrenches he found a gold ring with his grandmother’s initials engraved inside. My husband wiped off the grease and tried it on.
It fit perfectly.
It’s not much to look at, but it tells a story about a young man starting to make his way in the world some 80 years ago. This battered black metal lunch box traveled with my dad as he left Moscow to pick fruit in Washington orchards and later worked in the timber industry in Washington and South Idaho. It continued in use for over 50 years as Dad farmed in Latah County. Scratched on its surface are his initials and several mailing addresses from his travels, along with the word “OPEN” and an arrow pointing to the left clasp.
I do love old things! My latest find had a hidden surprise. I had been looking for a display cabinet for a recent home project and found the perfect one in a vintage shop in Spokane. When I got it home I realized the bottom panel wasn't attached and pulled it out to discover it's story! Turns out it was a doctors instrument cabinet for over 53 years and then his daughter refinished it in 1972, making it over 100 years old. I'm happy to give it a new home in our 1880's Victorian.
I know it’s not the prettiest artifact but it’s special all the same. My dad and his twin sister were the youngest of eight children growing up in Deering, N.D. When they were six their dad took them to Minot to buy a gift for their sister who was turning 10. They picked out this plaster of Paris frog and my aunt loved it! She moved it with her wherever she went and she still had it in her home when she passed. My dad’s twin made sure the frog was given to me and I was thrilled!
This is a spinning wheel for spinning flax I believe. I also believe it belonged to a Ms. Heckthorne (sp?) who was the wife of the first bank president in Moscow according to the previous owner . The spinning wheel was purchased from Jerry Jackle who owned Jackle's Jewelry in downtown Moscow. My parents were friends of the Jackles and thought that the spinning wheel should stay in Latah County as part of its history. I don't spin and the wheel is kind of cumbersome and takes up a lot of space, but it is interesting and fun to have around.
This red-checkered blanket was made by my great-grandmother. It belonged to my mother when she was a girl! My great-grandmother also made a red-checkered blanket for my aunt! Now the blanket belongs to me and I love it!
This tie was my grandfather's wedding tie (S. Ansel Fleener). He married Dora Marion Otter on a snowy Thanksgiving morning at the home of the bride's parents, November 30, 1916. They left later in the morning, before the Thanksgiving dinner, in order to catch the train to Portland, Oregon for their honeymoon.
Note the Bryan Hall clock tower on the label.
A person in my parents' church gave this clock to them. It has sat on our shelf ever since. I like it because it looks cool.
My favorite artifact is the piano. It first belonged to my great-grandmother. It is old enough that it was originally a player piano, until my grandfather removed the component that played the roll. You can still open the doors in the front of the piano and see its inner workings.
My favorite artifact in my home is my signed poster from the 2002 Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival. I grew up in Seattle, and competing in the Jazz Festival was one of the highlights of high school. I continued to make the trek to attend the concerts when I was in college. I met many great friends at the University of Idaho, including my lovely wife. The Festival was the first step in a long journey that culminated in moving to Moscow last year. Thanks Lionel!
This table was made by my grandpa. My dad helped make the design for it.
This was my father‘s piggy bank (I added the bow), he was born in 1930. My mother gifted me this on my 30th birthday – a few years ago :). I really don’t know anything else about it except it has always been one of my most favorite things ever. I meant to ask my Aunt Mildred if she knew something about it but didn’t get around to it – that’s what happens when you’re stuck at home with nothing but time on your hands.