Shock for some members of Summit Historical Society (letter)
Like a double shot of espresso, the article, “Cash-Strapped Summit Historical Society sells three historic properties in Breckenridge,” certainly was an eye-opener for us. Not only did we learn for the first time that the SHS president and board had sold its prime properties, Washington Mine, Lomax Placer Gulch, and the Briggle home for a minimal sum, but that they had included all the furnishings, equipment, artifacts, documents and photographs as well.
As long-time volunteer archivists and guardians of the society’s artifacts and archival materials, we were stunned. Like other society members, we knew nothing of the pending and secret transaction. And had we known, we certainly would have warned board members that selling/giving away the contents of each property is highly irregular. Within most historical institutions, staff and members respect the wishes of their donors and accept the responsibility for the materials entrusted to them.
Furthermore, had we known, we would have informed the itinerant president and reminded board members that there were internal controls in place and procedures to be followed: (1) consultation with the society’s donations committee, (2) a complete inventory of all artifacts in each location (3) an exhaustive record search as to the heritage of each artifact and any restrictions upon it, and (4) an appraisal for each item.
Although the news article reported an inventory had been taken, it appears as if all the other procedures were bypassed.
We feel that, under these circumstances, giving away the society’s artifacts and furnishings to the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance/Town of Breckenridge is an abdication of responsibility and a betrayal of the many donors who have given to the SHS since 1966.
We call upon both the BHA/TOB and SHS not only to contact all donors of artifacts in the properties, but also to offer them the opportunity to reclaim them. It is the honorable thing to do.
Deanna Speer and Karen Musolf
Summit Historical Society archival team, 2002/6-2014
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