Collections Corner: Reflecting on Collecting DC History Community Day

By Kimberly Totten, Collections Manager
Historic houses have limited opportunities to expand their collections. Sometimes the memory of what belonged to the house was lost to time. Tracking an object's provenance, the record of who has owned an object throughout its lifetime, can be difficult or even impossible. Nonetheless, the Museum's collection is ever changing.
The Heurich House Museum is lucky to have collections from descendants who are connected to the life inside the House, giving us the opportunity to tell stories of those who lived, worked, and created inside the house. Additionally, our breweriana collection gives us the opportunity to tell the stories of the workers at the Chr. Heurich Brewing Co. and Washington's labor history. 
During Collecting DC Community Day, the Museum featured a few new acquisitions from the last year, showing that once again a Museum's collections are never stagnant.

Why was it collected? What story does it tell us? What can we learn from them?
  1. During World War II, these war bonds were purchased by an employee of the Chr. Heurich Brewing Co. The Museum acquired these from the son of the brewery's comptroller, Parker Jones, who worked at the brewery from the 1930s until the brewery closed in 1956. Both bonds were purchased for $100 which is roughly $1,700 today.
    • Who purchased these war bonds? How did the war affect their life?
  2. Senate beer, a light lager, was branded alongside another Heurich brand: Maerzen, a beer traditionally drunk during Oktoberfest. Senate beer is typically branded in patriotic red, white, and blue, but this coaster was acquired for its unique yellow and blue printing.
    • Why was this coaster printed differently?
  3. In her first year of marriage to Christian Heurich, Amelia Heurich kept a ledger of her weekly grocery planning. She was the household manager of the Heurich mansion and the ledger reflects how she cared for the house. Throughout the years, the family employed a cook alongside other staff, indicating that Amelia was not the one cooking the ingredients she wrote in this ledger.
    • Why kinds of meals would a German-immigrant household make?
  4. Laura Keyser was the sister to Christian Heurich's first wife and mother of his third wife. Laura was a frequent visitor to the house and accompanied the family on trips to Germany. The Museum has a handful of photographs of Laura when she is older, making this photograph of a young Laura a rare acquisition. 
    • Why are there so few photos of Laura? 
  5. This travel size fountain pen and pillbox were part of a set found amongst some of Amelia Heurich's belongings. The initials ALH stand for Amelia Louise Heurich. 
    • Did Amelia use this set when the family traveled?
Collections are tangible connections to the past. As we research about these objects, the more we learn about the people that experienced the house and brewery. These collections also lead to more questions about the past. Who owned this? What does this tell us about their life? Why do we not know more about them? Which puzzle pieces are missing?

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