The souvenirs Sue collected in her travels are a time capsule of the types of objects made for sale in the Southwest of the 1930s, '40s, and '50s. Her collection can be subdivided into two categories: the first consists of objects that replicate things traditionally used by Native peoples, such as the miniaturized bow and arrow, and the drum; the second consists of items made specifically for sale to outsiders—often mimicking western forms—such as ashtrays, pitchers, and plates.
Market-oriented arts, because they are neither "authentic" nor "museum quality," often are not documented or collected by museums.
Market-oriented arts, because they are neither "authentic" nor "museum quality," often are not documented or collected by museums, and the encounters these objects represent are a lost intercultural story. Such collecting policies fail to recognize the history of ordinary people as patrons and their influence on Native arts. Because she did not leave a diary or photographs of her travels, the only evidence of the small encounters between Sue and local traders, or potters at roadside stands, or proprietors of Pueblo shops are the objects in her collection.
Women played an principal role in the collecting of 20th century Indian tourist art and, as consumers, were an important factor in determining the kinds of wares produced. Along with other tourists, Sue gravitated toward smaller pots, dolls, and weavings as a better fit for her suitcase and budget. In consideration of her teacher's salary of $130 per month, most of Sue's purchases cost about a dollar, and rarely more than four dollars. An avid collector, Sue joined other tourists of the time at trading posts, roadside stands, and stores. Because of their status as tourist destinations, the pueblos became venues for selling souvenirs and purchase of objects in such settings provided the best guarantee of their authenticity. While visiting San Ildefonso, Sue purchased a plate at Maria Martinez' shop and watched a firing, "[I was] stunned to see how the ashes were shoveled out with seeming abandon when such treasures lay beneath."