Time Machine Tuesday: Researching Past Colorado Legislators

Our library receives many questions about finding biographical information on state legislators from the past.  Many of these questions are geneological ("my great-grandfather served in the Legislature") but we have also received questions about whether certain legislators are still living; how many legislators belonged to a particular profession; where to find a photo of a deceased former legislator; which party a legislator belonged to; and other similar questions.  Luckily, we have a number of resources in our collection that can help answer these questions, and many of these resources are (or soon will be) available online.

Colorado Senators, 1885.  Courtesy Denver Public Library.
The first place to go when researching a legislator is Colorado Legislators Past and Present, a database developed by the Colorado Legislative Council.  Here you can find a variety of facts about every legislator who's ever served in Colorado.  Information in each record includes (if known/applicable):
  • political party
  • chambers served in (House, Senate)
  • years served
  • occupation
  • district number (for legislators after 1964)
  • county and city of residence
  • other government positions held
  • gender
  • birth date and place
  • death date and place
  • legislative committees served on
  • bill sponsorship
Many records contain supplementary information as well.  If a legislator was memorialized at the time of their death, the text of the memorial is provided, as scanned from the House and Senate Journals.  Other legislators gave oral histories, and these are included in audio form and/or transcript.  If a photo of the legislator can be located, it is also included in the record.  For those looking for statistical information rather than information on one specific legislator, the data can be sorted by district, party, chamber, or county.  The database also includes a search feature, which you can use if, for example, you wanted to find every legislator with occupation "attorney."

Besides the database, there are many other helpful resources, as well.  If the subject of your research held a leadership position, check out Presidents and Speakers of the Colorado General Assembly: A Biographical Portrait from 1876, also produced by Colorado Legislative Council.  Here you can find lengthier biographies on the House and Senate leaders from 1876 to 2011, along with photos.

Hundreds of biographies of important Coloradans prior to 1927 are also available online in volumes 4 and 5 of the Colorado Historical Society's History of Colorado.  Many of these biographies include photos.

Finally, you can view the official directories of state legislators back to 1972 via our library.  These directories include not only names, parties, and Capitol contact information, but also in many cases home addresses, occupations, spouses' names, committee information, and even seating charts for the House and Senate Chambers.

A few legislators, such as Helen Ring Robinson, Richard Castro, and William Hamill, have even had stand-alone biographies written about them, which you can check out from our library.  Other information can be found in reports of committees and state agencies; for these and other resources search our library's online catalog.


Colorado's Canines: Coyotes, Foxes, and Wolves

Coyotes, foxes, and wolves all belong to the scientific Family known as Canidae, or canines -- just like your pet dog.  There are some big differences, however, between all of these types of canines.

Native American legends often refer to the coyote as a trickster.  Colorado Parks & Wildlife calls them "opportunistic" and "naturally curious."  Many people think coyotes are only found in more rural areas or in the high country, but this is not true - they are being found in increasing numbers along the Front Range due to continued loss of their natural habitat.  They've even been spotted in neighborhoods near downtown Denver.  Coyotes will usually leave humans alone, but they can be a danger to your pets, so be sure to closely supervise your pets.  If coyotes are in the area, you should make sure your cats stay indoors.  When walking dogs, make sure they are leashed and within your sight, and don't ever let dogs and coyotes interact.  If you see coyotes nearby, it may be best to carry your dog, according to this brochure from Colorado Parks & Wildlife.  You can also learn more about coyotes in the publication Who is Coyote?

Foxes are also frequently found in urban areas and can also be a danger to small pets.  The species most commonly found in the Metro area is the red fox.  Red foxes can run at speeds of 30 MPH and have excellent sight, hearing, and smell.  Like coyotes they are "opportunistic" so to avoid attracting foxes, be sure food garbage is properly stored.  Learn more about red foxes at this "living with wildlife" page from Colorado Parks & Wildlife.  Other fox species, including gray, kit, and swift, are found in more remote areas.  The swift fox is a threatened/endangered species; you can read about Colorado's swift fox conservation efforts in this report.

Of the different types of canids, wolves are certainly the most rare in Colorado.  For many years there were no wolves in the state, but recently there have been reintroduction efforts.  Unlike foxes and coyotes, which rely on their keen intelligence to find food, wolves are much stronger, fiercer predators, and as a result their reintroduction has been controversial.  To learn more see the publications Wolves: Knocking at Colorado's Door and Findings and Recommendations for Managing Wolves that Migrate into Colorado.

Learn more about wolves, coyotes, and foxes by searching our library's online catalog or visiting the Colorado Parks & Wildlife website.

Images courtesy Colorado Parks & Wildlife.


The Future of Transportation

Travel between Denver and Boulder in just 8 minutes?  It could become a reality.  Yesterday the Colorado Department of Transportation released plans to study the Hyperloop system, a high-speed track system where cars are loaded onto pods and pushed through vacuum-sealed tubes at a speed of 670 miles per hour.  CDOT says a half-mile test track will be built alongside E-470 near Denver International Airport.   You can read more about this futuristic transportation system in CDOT's Hyperloop One report/proposal.  See also this CDOT video about Hyperloop.

Autonomous vehicles are also on the horizon.  Over the past year CDOT has been testing self-driving work zone trucks and other innovations as part of its RoadX program.  CDOT put together this video demonstrating the world's first self-driving work zone vehicle.  Check out CDOT's RoadX webpage for more information and videos.


Time Machine Tuesday: Colorado Aviation

A jet crosses the runway over I-70 at Stapleton International Airport in 1969.  Photo courtesy History Colorado.
In honor of National Aviation History Month, this week's post takes a look at the state of aviation in Colorado fifty years ago.  In 1968, the Colorado House of Representatives appointed a committee to look at the growth, challenges, and future of air travel in Colorado.  You can read the committee's report online from our library.

The report discusses the planning and legislation needed to address the growing industry.  At the time of this report, aviation technology was rapidly expanding.  Many airports, including Denver's Stapleton, were constructed in the early days of flight.  But after WWII, air travel "took off" as technologies were expanded.  For the first time in 1959, a jumbo jet flew out of Stapleton Airport, a facility that had been designed for much smaller aircraft.  Smaller airports around the state were also being pushed to capacity as air travel in all forms became more widespread.  Safety had also become more of a concern, as the Denver metro area had experienced two major crashes in the 1950s.  In 1951, a B-29 bomber taking off from Lowry Air Force Base crashed into Denver's Hilltop Neighborhood; and in 1955, Mainliner flight 629 exploded over Longmont, the result of a bomb planted in a passenger's suitcase, killing 44.  It was the United States' first incidence of air sabotage and still ranks as the state's largest mass-murder.

So the need for space, safety, and adaptation to new technology led to the House committee's formation in 1968.  The committee suggested that the overcrowding at Stapleton be addressed by the construction of "new reliever (secondary) airports in Colorado Springs, Pueblo, and Denver." Stapleton would push on for another twenty-five years, but finally the expansion of air travel - including the addition of more international flights - as well as increased noise over Denver residential areas led to the construction of Denver International Airport. 

Other ideas put forth in the 1968 report included state aid for community airports; development of air commuter services; an expanded safety program, including "the widespread use of navigational aids throughout the State;" and using air travel improvements to attract tourists to Colorado, especially skiers.  The committee recommended "exploiting all of Colorado's natural resources through the media of air transport. Such potentials as the skiing industry should be fully supported by both communities and the State."  Was this initiative successful?  Ten years after the report, the University of Colorado published The Airline Skier, 1977-78 Season: A Comparison of the Skiers Traveling by Commercial Air in Five Skier Studies Conducted at Aspen, Vail, Steamboat, Winter Park, and Copper Mountain.  This report is also available digitally from our library.  For other resources on the history of aviation in Colorado, search our library's online catalog.   


Student Data Privacy

The Colorado Department of Education takes many precautions to protect students' privacy and limit the availability of personally identifiable information.  To learn more, check out the following resources outlining the steps CDE is taking to ensure your children's privacy:
Also, be sure and visit the following CDE webpages for updated information:


CSU's National Western Center

Last week was the groundbreaking for the new National Western Center, a major project to revitalize the National Western Stock Show complex into a "year-round educational and entertainment hub."  The project includes both the construction of several new buildings as well as the preservation and restoration of several of the complex's historic structures, most notably the 1909 Stadium Arena. 

One of the major partners in the project is Colorado State University, which will have three new facilities at the complex: the CSU Water Resources Center; a facility for equine sports medicine; and the "CSU Center," which will provide classroom, laboratory, and art spaces as well as a "K-12 Food Systems Exploration Center."  For details on the CSU buildings see their program plan.  You can also find out more about the project at http://nwc.colostate.edu/ and at the City of Denver's National Western Center webpage.

A rendering of the site, including the historic Stadium Arena and the new CSU buildings.  Photo courtesy Colorado State University.


Time Machine Tuesday: A Colorado Booklist from 1968

What were the popular books on Colorado, and by Colorado authors, half a century ago?  Find out by viewing the Colorado Booklist that was issued by the State Historical Society.  The list gives titles and brief summaries of fiction and non-fiction books for adults, young adults, and children, as well as Colorado-themed magazines.  The list is an excellent resource to use if you are trying to recall the name of a Colorado-themed book that you read as a child, or to get a sense of Colorado culture in the 1960s.  The list may also be of interest to book collectors and book sellers.  Some of the books on the list are still important reference books for today's local historians; others have been all but forgotten.

A few of the non-fiction books and magazines listed, such as the Colorado Yearbook, Colorado Magazine, and Colorado Outdoors, are available for checkout from our library.  Others may be available at your local public library or through interlibrary loan.  Search our library's online catalog or contact us for research help.

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