My name is Maria, and I am the Cody Firearms Records Office intern this summer here at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. This summer I will spend time learning to understand the manufacturing records for Winchester, Marlin, and L.C. Smith. Mainly though, I spend my time working with Winchester Model 21 records to make them more easily accessible to those here in the office.
This internship is an interesting one as I am surrounded by gun information, yet I rarely interact with an actual firearm. To be honest though, I have never been fascinated by firearms. However, I have a deep love of history and research, which means that I find learning to read the elaborate script of the records and discovering new connections within the materials to be a welcome challenge. Processing this information also allows me to see the connections between all of the Center’s museums.
I should point out that this internship is my first time coming to the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. The museums were fascinating when viewed in conjunction with one another, but due to the nature of my internship, I was especially interested to see the Cody Firearms Museum. In observing the many firearms, ingenuity appeared as a key term in the history of firearms as there were always new advancements and continued ingenuity. Impracticality, though, is often a by-product on the way to advancements. This is observable in some of the firearms which are so large they are impossible to hold, or firearms which are dangerous to the user instead of the target. As a firearms novice, these are the ideas that grasped my interest.
With my internship in mind, one fascinating aspect I thought about as I wandered through the entirety of the Center, was the centrality of firearms to the history of the American West. Popular culture embraced firearms through pageants such as Buffalo Bill’s Wild West shows. Impact upon American history can also be felt in how firearms affected relationships between settlers and Plains Indians and the animals living in the West. Portrayals in art also come into play as firearms are included in the imagery associated with western art.
Firearms are woven into the very fabric of the American West and help to provide a complete picture of this history. With these ideas in mind, I plan to spend the summer soaking up this pool of knowledge whether it involves firearms or the history of the American West.