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Melissa Rivers says her mom Joan Rivers left behind a lot of jokes and Altoids

<i>Kevin Mazur/WireImage/Getty Images</i><br/>Joan Rivers (left) and Melissa Rivers are pictured here in 2014.
Kevin Mazur/WireImage/Getty Images
Joan Rivers (left) and Melissa Rivers are pictured here in 2014.

By Marianne Garvey, CNN

(CNN) — Nearly a decade after the death of comedian Joan Rivers, her daughter Melissa Rivers is still finding handwritten jokes in her mom’s sweater pockets.

The younger Rivers has spent years slowly sorting through her mother’s archives, some of which is now part of a National Comedy Center exhibit in honor of the late comic and producer.

“We still find scraps of paper, shoved in a book or on boarding passes. The beginnings of a joke,” Melissa Rivers said in a recent interview with CNN. “The other day we were going through some of her clothes, trying to figure out what to do with some of the real archival pieces. Some of the designers have asked for them. And we have to check all the pockets. Oh my God, because half the time you’ll find jokes and old Altoids.”

Rivers said “like anyone going through their family stuff,” there have been moments of laughter and tears.

“You know, the first time you reach into a pocket and out comes a handful of Altoids you cry. The sixth time, not really,” she said.

Rivers believes her mom would have loved the exhibition they’ve put together, which covers her mother’s career from the 1950s to 2014. The National Comedy Center is in Jamestown, New York, where Lucille Ball grew up.

The Rivers archive includes a file cabinet containing over 65,000 original jokes, spanning from the start of her career. There are also clips of her early gigs in Greenwich Village nightclubs and Chicago’s Second City. The later years include her red carpet interviews and late-night appearances.

Also included are personally compiled scrapbooks, audio recordings, correspondence with peers in entertainment, the guest books from her storied run as host of “The Late Show with Joan Rivers,” and a selection of the gowns and jewelry that defined her style.

At the National Comedy Center, Rivers joins collections on George Carlin and Carl Reiner, among others.

“Look at the people who are there,” Melissa Rivers said of the comedians honored at the museum. “That’s a hell of a table to be sitting at.”

“This is definitely where her archives belong,” she added.

On June 8, Rivers and her son Cooper, who was extremely close to his grandmother, honored Joan Rivers on what would have been her 90th birthday.

Rivers hopes the museum tribute is a way for future generations to appreciate her mother’s legacy for years to come.

“It’s always forward momentum,” Rivers said of her mom. “That was with her comedy as well. She always stayed relevant.”

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