Questers – Who are they?

Many people have not heard of the The Questers, and the ladies who make up this quirky sounding organization. The Questers is a non profit entity with chapters in 43 states and two Canadian provinces. Colorado has 29 active chapters throughout the state, from Ft. Collins and Greeley to Colorado Springs and Grand Junction and Steamboat Springs. They all have two main purposes:  preservation and restoration, and education. Preservation and Restoration (P & R) is funded by members’ annual International dues and by various other donations.

Individual chapters are encouraged to apply for state grants to fund a project of their choice. Currently a Denver chapter has received a grant to participate in a project at the Governor’s Residence, also known as the Boettcher Mansion. The P & R project will be to fund the restoration of a pair of French Tapestries which are hanging in the Mansion drawing room. Much of State P & R funding comes from the proceeds of silent auctions held at the spring and fall luncheons.

Most chapters meet monthly except for the summer months. When a chapter is chartered, it chooses a name from an historic item, person, or happening. Some names are Pieces of the Past, Silver Dollar, Applewood Reliques, Delving Damsels. State meetings are held once in spring and once in fall. Each state takes a turn hosting annual International conventions that include business meetings, tours of historic places, and themed banquets.

Questers grew out of one woman’s desire to provide joy in the lives of  people who enjoy learning and sharing. Jessie Elizabeth (Bess) Barden was working for the Red Cross in Philadelphia in 1943, the darkest days of World War II. Bess saw the need to inject a little fun into the lives of her coworkers and share her interest in antiques and the stories behind them. After she invited the first group of people to her home for refreshments and study, the idea of forming study groups began to spread. In 1950, Questers became a national organization, achieving non profit status in 1953. In 1991, Canada’s inclusion of two provinces made Questers International.

The Questers organization provides two scholarships each year to graduate students earning a Master of Science in preservation and restoration. The organization also awards a three-year fellowship to a graduate student working toward a Master of Science in art conservation. The Fellowship program, established at the University of Deleware/Winterthur, provides for study in archival care and conservation, restoration and proper storage of art, antiquities, and artifacts
Questers have fun too. Their unofficial motto is “It’s a Pleasure to Search and a Joy to Find.” This fall, questers from all parts of Colorado will gather in Steamboat Springs for a weekend of touring and shopping in local antique stores. The program at the luncheon has been titled “Ladies of the Valley: Pioneering Voices.

For more information on this delightful organization go to www.questers1944.org.

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