Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Arizona Centennial Museum Displaces Polly Rosenbaum Legacy

Poly Rosenbaum was in the Arizona House of Representatives for 45 years. In 1982, she was honored by her colleagues as “The First Lady of the Arizona Legislature” for her many years of service.

Polly was born in Iowa in 1899. She obtained a degree in history and political science from the University of Colorado. Then, she earned a masters degree in education at the University of Southern California. After graduation, she became a teacher in the mining town of Hayden, Arizona. She also worked for Inspiration Copper and the State of Arizona. She became a state legislature in 1949 and served until 1994.

In the House, Polly was Chairman of the Education Committee. She championed education, public libraries, and historic preservation. She was particularly interested in preserving Arizona’s mining history, and was responsible for relocating the historic Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum to the Polly Rosenbaum Building. That is the historic former El Zariba Shrine Temple, and is not to be confused with the new Polly Rosenbaum State Archives and History Building. The museum reopened in its new quarters in October, 1991. In addition to housing the states extensive mineral collection, the renovated building protected historic and scientifically valuable files, maps, photographs and library from fire and water damage. Poly loved the museum and visited it frequently. She also chose it as the place to celebrate her 99th birthday.

In a February 21, 2003, an Arizona Capital Times article quoted Polly as follows: “These new people have a very short view of history. The (mineral) museum is about more than minerals; it’s the identity of Arizona. The prospector and burro came hunting for gold and silver, but copper revolutionized the electrical industry and created the modern world. Many people have no idea how dependent we are on minerals, until they come to the museum.”

After her death in December of 2003, the Arizona Legislature passed House Concurrent Resolution 2042 (2004) which shows that both Polly and the Legislature assumed the renovated Polly Rosenbaum building was the “permanent home” for the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum.

How unfortunate that the current administration plans to celebrate Arizona’s centennial by replacing the “identity of Arizona” with a 5C Centennial Museum. How ironic that the Arizona Historical Society (responsible for the 5C museum) is a participant in erasing the historic “identity of Arizona”.

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