We hired a new director, who oversaw several exciting projects. We officially changed our name to the Lafayette History Museum, to better reflect our goal of telling all of Lafayette’s history, while also still honoring and remembering our roots as a coal mining city. We also opened a new exhibit: Radical Lafayette tells the story of the 1927-1928 Colorado Coal Strike, and reminds us of the sacrifices men and women made early in Lafayette’s history to ensure fair wages, safe working conditions, and basic human dignity. None of this would have been possible without your support.
In 2023, we are planning to do more historical research, partner with arts and cultural organizations around Lafayette, and update our existing exhibits, while also continuing to care for our collection, host programs, and welcome visitors into the museum space. Will you consider supporting our mission? Donations from individuals like you are critical to allowing the Museum to remain open and serving the community, and any amount helps.
The museum contains a wealth of Lafayette history, from the early days of pioneer heritage, through the coal mining years, and into the present. Visitors will view a broad collection of artifacts displayed in our exhibits. A particular favorite is an aerial map that highlights the extent of the mining beneath our feet. Almost every resident who visits loves to pinpoint their house to see if it sits above a tunnel.
Like most museums, only a small percentage of our collection is on display at one time. It is essential that we rotate the objects on exhibit for their preservation.
The Lafayette Historical Society’s collection is composed of approximately 4,000 items, including roughly 2,600 historic objects (such as agricultural and coal mining tools and equipment, architectural features, and household goods), around 500 textiles, some 350 archival documents (like ledgers, records, newspapers, scrapbooks, local ephemera, maps), and approximately 1,000 photographs. The collections predominately date from the 1880s through the 1940s, when coal mining was at its height. Some of the most significant within the collection are:
• (70) Oral histories and biographies representative of Lafayette’s immigrant and working-class heritage. Most were recorded in the 1970s and 1980s.
• (75) Maps of the Northern Coal Field, local towns, and underground mining tunnels. These tunnels are still present beneath the community and result in occasional subsidence. Such primary source materials exist nowhere else, so we are often consulted by neighbors who are concerned about what may lay beneath their homes.
• Hundreds of materials related to Lafayette High School, a collection well-loved by the aging alumni. The high school operated from 1926 to 1972, and the museum curates a sizable collection of photographs, documents, and textiles dating to its beginning. In recent years, LHS digitized the Senior Photos Collection (every class from 1938-1972) and integrated the portraits into a searchable database that is on permanent display and accessible to visitors during open hours.
• The photographs are the most utilized and accessed materials. Several digitization projects have made hundreds of the photographs available online. LHS strives to have all of its collection visible online, but we still have many years of work ahead before we digitize everything.
Collection items are accessible by request for personal and professional reference and research.
The museum is dedicated to getting artifact, photograph, archival, and library collections online so you can view them from home. This is a continuing effort and the online database is being updated regularly. A portion of our collection has been digitized and is available at the link below.