by Jamie Ehrl –
CAPT. KEVIN JACKSON and Matt Bingham inspect an Army bonnet.
A dark blue Salvation Army lassie hat sits atop a pillow inside a display case, with a description carefully placed at its side—a reminder of another time in Army history, one carefully preserved by the staff at The Salvation Army Museum of the West.
Few people can appreciate the work involved in preparing artifacts for display. Museum Director Captain Kevin Jackson laughs while explaining a common misconception: “People seem to think that we open a box, dust off an artifact, and it’s ready to be displayed.” In reality, Jackson and museum researcher Matt Bingham work tirelessly cataloging some 10,000 documents, photographs, and artifacts arriving annually. Many are undocumented and have to be researched. This complex job lies somewhere between archaeologist, historian, and detective.
Building partnerships with other historical societies is another facet of the behind-the-scenes work. Bingham built such a partnership with the Pueblo County Historical Society in Pueblo, Colorado, while investigating the story behind photographs featuring Salvation Army relief efforts in the Pueblo Flood of 1921. Museum and Society now regularly exchange photographs and information. Matt, a lifelong Salvationist, says his appreciation for Salvation Army history has grown through his work and feels it is worthwhile for anyone to learn more about the organization through the museum.
The Salvation Army Museum of the West is located at The Salvation Army College for Officer Training at Crestmont in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. For information about museum membership, or to schedule a tour, please contact (310) 377-0481.