A Journey Through the Records
As a intern in the Cody Firearms Records Office, I don’t work with actual firearms. Instead, I learn about and work with the ledgers, forms, and documents that pertain to the manufacturing of firearms. Thus, I can tell you a lot about the specifications of a certain gun, but I have a little harder time finding the physical version! I find information contained within our approximately 3.5 million records, some of which date back as far as 1875. In my time here at the museum, I have mainly worked with our Winchester records.
Everyday, I look through the pages of Winchester warehouse records. These records come from the end of the manufacturing process as Winchester prepared to ship the firearms out to the merchants. Each model of gun is given a set of these ledger books. One page will contain 50 firearms with notes about the type of firearm, the caliber, and whatever other information was deemed pertinent. Deciphering these records can sometimes be a chore since all of a gun’s information is contained within one college ruled line. However, the beautiful script provides enjoyment to the records reading process.
As one looks at the ledgers, the wear and tear, which comes from everyday usage, is clearly visible. These were practical ledgers, used everyday by many individuals. Today, we mainly work from scans to prevent further deterioration of these documents. However, sometimes we use the actual records which is always a treat. To see a book repaired time and again and notice the small details gives the endless lines of information a beautifully layered picture that can be just as interesting as the physical firearms. The records provide a glimpse at those who made the firearms and the care put into the construction of the firearms.