Frequently Asked Questions

As eloquently defined by the Society of American Archivists, an archive or archives "refers to the permanently valuable records-such as letters, reports, accounts, minute books, draft and final manuscripts, and photographs-of people, businesses, and government. These records are kept because they have continuing value to the creating agency and to other potential users. They are the documentary evidence of past events. They are the facts we use to interpret and understand history."

What is available in the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery and the Local History Archive? The materials we collect and preserve here at the Museum help tell the story of Fort Collins by illustrating the history of the people and environments of this area and surroundings in Northern Colorado. Collection highlights include:

The Archive is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The Archive closes for lunch each day from noon to 1 p.m, and is closed on Sunday and Monday.

The Archive is part of the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery, located at 408 Mason Court, Fort Collins, Colorado, 80524.

The Local History Archive was located at the Old Town Library in the Poudre River Public Library District (previously the Fort Collins Public Library) beginning in the late 1970s. The Archive and its collections moved to the Fort Collins Museum in April of 2007. In November of 2012 the Archive opened at its current home at the new Fort Collins Museum of Discovery.

The Archive and the Library are friends! We partner on the Fort Collins History Connection website, and there are many resources available at Old Town Library to help with local history research and genealogy.

The Archive is part of the free zone at the Museum. The public is encouraged to visit, peruse shelves, and ask questions of Archive staff and volunteers.

Starting July 14, 2020, the Archive at Fort Collins Museum of Discovery will be open by appointment only. Make an appointment.

We recommend contacting us in advance for specific research requests or materials. We do need at least 2 days of lead time to retrieve collections that are stored off-site.

We do have several volunteers who help with many aspects of archival work, from scanning photos to data entry to indexing magazines, and much more! See our Volunteer page to view current openings for volunteers in the Archive.

Although we have scanned many items from our collections, online digital collections represent a small fraction of what we offer in the Archive. Limitations in funding, time, and staffing affect our ability to make all collections available electronically. We have prioritized by digitizing selections of our most actively-referenced photographs, city directories, oral history transcripts, and vertical files. We continue to work on making more and more materials available online.

Our staff is delighted to talk to you about your research goals and suggest collections and resources that may help answer questions, but due to the high volume of requests our small staff receives we cannot offer extensive research services. All requests will be processed on a time-available basis; replies may have a varying response time due to the unique nature of questions received.

We can email up to 5 digital scans of specifically-requested information included in the Obituary Files (spanning 1977-2013), Biographical Vertical Files, or major Larimer County History books. We can also mail paper photocopies of information at $0.10 per page; payment for copies can be made by credit card over the phone or by check mailed and made payable to the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery.

The Archive staff will conduct a look-up on newspaper microfilm if an exact date is known, but we cannot do substantial searching on microfilm.

If you are a distance-researcher and/or require extensive research help, you may wish to hire help. Please contact the Larimer County Genealogical Society for contacts and suggestions.

Yes, in most cases. Copies may be made of many materials unless they are restricted. Possible restrictions on copying include fragile items, entire archival collections, or all the text of individual books, manuscripts, or boxes of material.

Researchers may ask the Archive staff to make "study" copies on the copy machine of photographs for personal or research use, or as a preview copy before they intend to purchase a digital scan. Researchers are requested to be as selective as possible when making these copy requests since the process can be harmful to the materials.

Personal scanners may be used to "copy" documents and published materials in lieu of using the photocopy machine. Maximum resolution for such scans is 300 dpi. Personal scanners may NOT be used to capture photographs in the Archive; a digital scan must be ordered.

Cameras may be used to "copy" documents and published materials in lieu of using the photocopy machine. Cameras may NOT be used to capture photographs in the Archive; a digital scan must be ordered.

Black and white photocopies are .10 each. Color photocopies are .50 each. Visitors must log their copy counts with slips provided and pay at the end of their session at the Museum front desk or store using cash, check, or credit card.

The Archive sells high-resolution digital scans of many images and maps in the collection for both personal and commercial use. Scans are delivered electronically via email or CD. View all ordering instructions and pricing details.

The Archive staff will provide you with cotton gloves if they are deemed necessary for the handling of artifacts.

A stray mark from a pen or highlighter will permanently damage archival material. You must use a pencil for note-taking in the Archive. Don't have a pencil? Fear not. We have a plenty!

We rely on and welcome donations to add to our holdings at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery. We do have several guidelines when it comes to donating materials. Please contact the curators to set up a donation meeting prior to bringing an artifact to the Museum for donation. The donation process involves staff review of potential donations and, if the items are accepted, completion of donation paperwork that transfers legal title of an object from the owner to the Museum.

Please see our Donations page for more information.

The Fort Collins Museum of Discovery, in accordance with its mission, collects materials that illustrate the history and culture of the people and environments of the Fort Collins area.

Artifacts collected by the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery will be specific to the Fort Collins area and the Cache La Poudre Valley, or be representative of a regional or national trend of which Fort Collins was or is a part. The Fort Collins Museum of Discovery will make every effort to collect artifacts that fill a void in the permanent collections and are of a condition to be properly preserved and exhibited.

Generally, objects that fulfill these objectives will have a strong connection to the Fort Collins area, be in good condition, and not duplicate objects already in the collection.

Please see our Donations page for more information.

We cannot. It is a conflict of interest for museum employees or volunteers to provide appraisals of donations and is strictly forbidden by museum policy and professional codes of conduct.

We cannot refer patrons to specific certified appraisers, but we can suggest an internet search for these professional organizations that can help:

  1. American Society of Appraisers
  2. Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America
  3. Appraisers Association of America
  4. Appraisers National Association
  5. International Society of Appraisers

Fort Collins Museum of Discovery          Poudre River Public Library District
Preserving the history of Fort Collins, Colorado & the Cache la Poudre region