Women's Diaries and the Westward Migration of the 1800's

We often think of the diaries that were written during the time of the Pioneer expansion to California and the Oregon Territory as filled with episodes of gun fights and challenges with many types of weather encountered by the covered wagons- but the diaries of women from that time often discuss very different topics than those of the men.

In her book recounting evidence from women's diaries from that time period, Dr. Lillian Schlissel of Brooklyn College notes that women often reported on the amazing amount of work that they accomplished against incredible odds! Unlike the men, women reported on pleasant surprises during their migration- the kindness of Native American women, the new ways to deal with cooking on an open plan shared with "communities of women", and other types of practical knowledge.

Our publication the Stagelines features two articles about the diaries this month, and discusses the coming presentation of the play "Quilters" which was based upon these remembrances of women. According to the author, women displayed "an astonishing versatility" in types of ingenuity used to get through every day. One woman reported that she rolled out her pie crust on a wagon seat while they were travelling. To bake bread, another placed it in a Dutch oven in the ground or fried it in a skillet. Mosquitos could get in the dough and turn it black!!

In our own collection of diaries from the Conejo valley settlers, we have the journal of Mary Jane Hunt, wife of one of the founders of the region. They lived on the "Salto" ranch area in the late 1800's and her diary reveals the day to day joys and struggles of the local settlers.

We invite the public to come out and view our library as well as see the play "Quilters' later this year, to be presented at our Museum! Share our memories of brave women who helped to found our Conejo Valley....

"One City, One Book" collaboration with T.O. Library-see the 1870's here!

"News of the World", the City of Thousand Oaks chosen book for "One City, One Book" is most evocative of the 1870's in the Western United States. Written by Paulette Jiles, this amazing novel recounts the stories of the rough, and unpredictable life of the West in the late 1800's, complete with the adventures of an older veteran who earns a living reading the "news of the world" to those who have not learned to read...his audience raptly listening to the stories of places far away, and new laws enacted in the Washington D. C. of a reunited Nation.

Our exhibits will feature the 1870's both in photographic documentation from the period, as well as in the newspapers from the Period. We also feature an extensive look in to  "women's work" from that period, including a view in to the kitchen and the major work of the day: doing the laundry!!

We have amazing examples of the toys of that age, and we showcase the types of work that the men adopted in that time of the Pioneer Expansion.

Welcome to our  hands on "book related' experiences that lend even more texture to the stories portrayed from that time period. Exhibits beginning September 15, 2017.

Movies made in Conejo Valley- our exhibits highlight these...

Did you know that the Conejo Valley and the MGM Ranch were the site of many movie shoots that occurred over the 1930's-1950's? Our exhibits upstairs in Jungleland detail some of the movies shot in our area- including this romantic portrait of "The Lash". The Tarzan movies often were shot in the area, and even "Bedtime with Bonzo" features our local region.

Come visit our fascinating exhibits that feature a few of the many movies shot in the Conejo Valley- and view them on YouTube in their original format! 

A 1930's Production

A 1930's Production

Recent Donations to the Museum

Davis and Kidder Patent Magneto-electric machine- for Nervous Diseases, circa 1830s

Among our recent donations to the Museum is a device that is considered an early precursor to modern "TENS" machines for pain and nerve disorders. The patented Davis and Kidder magneto machine worked utilizing the properties of electric current. The two steel bars which were attached to the machine were designed to be held by a person wishing to use the treatment. The electric generation was produced by cranking the small generator in the machine. The result was possibly a bit more jolt than the patient was expecting- but the makers of the machine claimed that it solved various types of "nervous disorders".

The items that we curate from the early 1800s run the gamut from medical curiosities to early musical instruments to funny and strange "new" kitchen devices for the time. Come see our amazing collection of tools and utensils from the era!

Davis and Kidder Magneto Patent Electric machine

"The rare and amazing Chumash Baskets of Linda Aguilar"

Our collection of the amazing baskets made by contemporary Chumash basket weaver Linda Aguilar are literally one of a kind- they range from miniature baskets no more than 1/2" wide to the large gourds that are decorated with effigies and weavings on the rims that are very large indeed. As our Anderson Hall undergoes restoration, we offer this view of her work while it is off display from that Hall. Aguilar, who was the Official Artist in Residence at the Denver Museum of Art has always maintained that like earlier basketweavers, she will use natural materials as well as materials from the world in which she lives. She recently wove a basket for the Las Vegas area that contained poker chips in the dangling decoration hanging from the creation!