Cemetery records find new home and get conservation

Golden Cemetery records housed at Museum 

Golden Cemetery

Detail from 1873 map of Golden’s first official cemetery. After 143 years in operation, the Golden Cemetery is still serving the community.

Golden Cemetery staff transferred original records to the Golden History Museum & Park in late 2019. The transfer included the first two burial registers and the 1873, hand-drawn map used to plot the city cemetery. For years, the records lived in the basement at the cemetery office.

Chad Meinert, Parks, Forestry and Cemetery Manager for the City of Golden said, “I’m pleased to transfer these historically valuable records to the museum, where I know they’ll get cared for properly and stay preserved for future generations.”

While the documents were in fairly stable condition, they needed some TLC to ensure their long term preservation. Thanks to an $1,100 grant from the Greenwood Fund, professional conservation started earlier this year.

Conservation treatment in progress

We hired book and paper conservator Karen Jones to complete the meticulous work. This is not our first time working together—she consults on various conservation concerns and came to the rescue to repair and clean the original 1873 Jefferson County Jail register. Karen took custody of the cemetery records in January 2020, and in early April shared the following progress report from her home studio.

Ledger A:
Golden Cemetery Ledger A/ ca 1880? / approx. 14”h x 9”w x 2”d

This is disbound now. I’ve done the page repair and encapsulated all the loose docs. I will sew in the enclosures found within the text (paper originally taped to a certain page, but was wondering about the other enclosures. There were several pages of another textblock loose in the front. They are a different size from the ledger. Should I leave them encapsulated and loose? Perhaps you’ll put them in a separate folder, or should I add a pocket to the ledger and insert?

Cemetery roll map / ca 1880? / approx. 46”w x 36”h

I’ve removed the dowels and completed the surface cleaning on this map. I did test all of the colorants and they are not water soluble. I also tested possible removability of the cloth mount and looks to be straightforward. So it will be possible to wash this map. It has a lot of fly specks, so washing should soften those and allow for minimizing those stains. It will also make for a more stable end result. Let me know if OK to proceed.

This was option 2.

Option 2: Full conservation treatment: surface clean; test all colorants; remove cloth backing; if colorants are not soluble in water, wash in alkalized bath; mount on heavy weight okawara with starch paste and dry under constraint. The conserved map can either be stored flat or displayed as noted in option 1.

Next steps and more resources

Cemetery entrance 1935

Golden Cemetery entrance after completion of the “new” shelter house in center, 1935. Photo courtesy of Western History and Genealogy, Denver Public Library.

In case you’re wondering, I told her to proceed with the map bath, and to remove the cloth backing. Ultimately, I’d love to temporarily display these artifacts at the museum so you can see for yourself, but we’ll see what happens.

In the meantime, you can learn more about the Golden Cemetery history in the online collection and see other related artifacts. The Golden Cemetery was added to the National Register of Historic Places on April 18, 2012. Read the application here on file at the Colorado State Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation. 

–Mark Dodge, Curator