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Diamonds in the Rough

Katelin Russell
On April 26, 2022

Diamonds in the Rough

“A diamond in the rough” is a commonly known metaphor that invites people to explore the idea that beauty can be seen in the most unsuspecting of locations. The Harold Warp Pioneer Village in itself is just that; a collection of history dedicated to serving its community in the midst of a small town in Nebraska. Among the thousands of artifacts, lies a selection of literal diamonds. These pieces of history speak for themselves as they have and will continue to withstand the test of time. Growing up, I was fascinated with jewelry. My grandfather is an artist who specializes in its creation and always told me that each piece of jewelry has a story behind it. He would tell me that jewelry is one of the most elegant ways there is to express oneself. Pioneer Village is filled with unique artifacts and fragments of time. But the selection of antique jewelry and timepieces are truly what stand out to me. 

Jewelry 

Pioneer Village’s jewelry displays stand as visual representations of what the average blue-collar worker and middle manager American would have owned in the late 1880s to the 1900s. To fully take in the beauty and historical value these displays hold, you have to start at the beginning. There are many items in the main building, such as a display of Mourning Jewelry. Dated back to Queen Victoria, mourning jewelry was a way for grieving individuals to feel closer to their deceased loved ones. It was common to have a locket with strands of human hair to commemorate the beauty of the life taken. In the main building of Pioneer Village, you can see some pieces like this. Next, the jewelry shop is a place where you can physically take a step back in time to see what a common jewelry store would have looked like. This is a period store where Pioneer Village has many jewelry items as well as approximated prices the pieces would have been valued in the year of their origin. The jewelry ranges from pearl necklaces to stone-embedded bracelets that are thoroughly stunning. It is an informative and interactive display with a rich historical background. 

Accessories 

Accessories and jewelry have stood as a representation of wealth and societal standing since 3000 B.C. The importance and love for them have never stopped. From the 1800s through the early 1900s, clothing was expensive, and it was very common for the average American to only own a few items. As styles changed, accessories were used to update and elevate average clothing items. This was a much more cost-effective and reliable way to do things. For women, a few examples of common accessories were hat pins, brooches, watches, and many other chattels. Pioneer Village has multiple displays that showcase women’s accessories. In the main building, you can see an exhibit that features a diverse collection of hatpins. Hatpins grew in popularity in the 1800s and were very common in women’s fashion. The display has hat pins dated from the 1880s to around the 1940s. Along with hat pins, there are also hair combs which were another prevalent accessory at the time. Pioneer Village also has many fascinating brooches which are located in the main building, while the rest are displayed in the jewelry store. 

 

Men’s accessories also have historical importance. Similarly, to women, men would wear accessories such as tie pins, watches, and key fobs. Pioneer Village has a selection of all these items and more, such as a small array of watch guards. These are small chains or ribbons that fasten, then secure a watch to its owner. The majority of men’s accessories can be found in Pioneer Village’s main building. There are a few other interesting pieces displayed. For example, fraternal organization emblems which were commonly worn by men to represent if they were a member of the Shriners, Freemasons, etc. Fraternal organizations are a group of men bonded over mutual interests, goals, and brotherhood. These types of organizations grew to be more common in the late 1800s and early 1900s. They are still popular to this day. Pioneer Village has done an impeccable job of creating a story through time with every piece of jewelry and accessory they have. Thankfully, because of the fantastic employees at Pioneer Village, I was able to get a great deal of this information. So, please take the time to take a step back in time and visit Pioneer Village. It is highly worth the stopover! 

Katelin Russell
A Student at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, as part of Heather Nelson’s Service Learning Academy class.

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