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Preserving a Legacy of Outdoor Products History


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archiveItems in the collection are cataloged and preserved

Until now, the pieces of outdoor history documenting the creation of outdoor brands and the  development of ground breaking products and technology have not had a home. Through the efforts of Clint Pumphrey, manuscript curator for Utah State University’s Special Collections, the creation of the Outdoor Recreation Archive is giving a home to the history of the industry. To date, collectors, enthusiasts, and lovers of the outdoors and its history have donated over 2,000 items to be preserved and studied at USU.

All items in the collection are accessible in person to be viewed and appreciated by researchers, the public, and outdoor industry brands. A digital exhibit has also been created where the front cover of each item in the collection can be viewed.

“While many archives have a catalog here or there, or even have complete runs of a few different catalogs, ours is the first effort I know of to systematically collect outdoor recreation catalogs over a century-long period,” said Pumphrey. “We’ve been in contact with some pretty serious catalog collectors who are impressed at the size and scope of our collection, which continues to grow as we add catalogs old and new.” 

Each document in the collection is carefully cataloged, the cover is digitized, and the physical item kept in a temperature controlled environment so it can be preserved, protected, and appreciated for years to come.

The collaboration between USU’s Special Collections and the Outdoor Product Design & Development (OPDD) program combines OPDD’s industry connections with the archiving specialty of Special Collections to bring a unique offering to the outdoor industry.

“Housing these materials on campus allows our Outdoor Product Design & Development students to study the history of the industry, the successful products, the failures, and the legacy of the industry, and help carry that appreciation forward as they work for outdoor companies,” said Chase Anderson, OPDD program coordinator. “We feel this is one more way we can offer a service to the industry and help better prepare our students for careers while honoring the legacy of those who came before us.” 

If you’re interested in contributing items to the collection, please contact Clint Pumphrey, manuscript curator on the Special Collections team.

A full interview with Clint Pumphrey can be viewed on YouTube and on the Highlander Podcast.

The digital exhibit can be accessed below.

outdoor archive

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