House Resolution Recognizing Libraries

The Colorado House of Representatives has scheduled for today the consideration of HR17-1008, a resolution recognizing the importance of Colorado libraries.  The resolution states, in part, that "Colorado libraries are a vital and essential public resource that provide free and equal access to educational and recreational material and enrich the lives of all citizens."  The resolution goes on to stress the importance of IMLS funding for libraries.  And, in paragraph 9, State Publications is listed as one of our state's "essential library programs and services." 

You can watch the presentation of the resolution live on the House floor today (or, if you are reading this after today, you can view a recording) by going to the Colorado Channel.

The Colorado House chambers.  Photo by Tony Eitzel courtesy of Colorado General Assembly.


What is the Colorado Commission on Uniform State Laws?

The Colorado Commission on Uniform State Laws (CCUSL) is a commission under the auspices of the state General Assembly which compares state laws around the country and determines discrepancies between Colorado laws and other states on topics of potential national importance.  Each state has such a committee, which act as participants in the federal Uniform Law Commission (ULC). 

The topics examined by the CCUSL and ULC are varied in subject and scope.  The commission discusses various topics and makes recommendations for legislation.  For example, in 2016 the CCUSL authored five Senate Bills:  SB16-071, concerning registration of athletic agents; SB16-084, concerning "health care decision-making documents," SB16-085, concerning property trusts; SB16-088, concerning "fiduciary access to digital assets," and SB16-103, concerning domestic violence protection orders.  Two of these bills, SB16-085 and SB16-088, were passed into law.

You can find out about the CCUSL's work, and their legislative recommendations, in their annual reports.  These are available from our library back to 2002.  You can find out about the legislation CCUSL has proposed for the current 2017 session by viewing this blog post from the State Legislature.


Time Machine Tuesday: Colorado Rehabilitation Farms

During the Great Depression of the 1930s, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and the Farm Security Administration (FSA) sponsored a program to purchase under-performing farmland from poor farmers and resettle them in group farms to enhance cultivation.  Despite criticism from some who considered the program to be socialist collectivism, the federal government did establish some of these farms in Colorado.  Here in our state they partnered with the Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station to administer the program.  The annual income & expense reports for the program have been digitized and are available from our library for 1937 (the first report), 1938, and 1939.  The coming of World War II eased some of the economic burdens on agriculture, and the program was abandoned by 1944.  Check out these reports for an interesting look into a mostly-forgotten chapter in Colorado's agricultural past.


Dental Health in Colorado

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) has many programs promoting oral/dental health.  Specific programs target Coloradans of various ages, such as the Cavity Free at Three program and the Dental Assistance for Seniors program.  CDPHE also oversees water fluoridation and keeps statistics on Coloradans' dental health.  For information on CDPHE's programs, see their website.  For publications about dental health in Colorado, check our library's online catalog.  Some examples of resources include


Colorado Egg Production

Buying Easter eggs this week?  You may not realize that the eggs you buy must go through a rigorous inspection process by the Colorado Department of Agriculture before they can appear on the shelves of your favorite grocery store.  Egg producers and dealers are required to be licensed by the state.*

The Colorado Egg Law and You and the Colorado Department of Agriculture's egg FAQs are two publications that discuss egg safety and quality.  Use this publication to learn about the inspection process; the difference between Grade AA, A, and B eggs; how to select organic or cage-free eggs; how you can keep eggs fresh longer; and how eggs are officially sized (from jumbo to peewee!)

*Some exceptions exist for small producers under the Colorado Cottage Foods Act.


Time Machine Tuesday: Gilpin County

During the Colorado Gold Rush, Gilpin County was one of the leading areas attracting miners and prospectors to attempt to strike it rich.  Today, as home to Central City and Black Hawk, two of the Colorado towns that allow gambling, people are still heading to Gilpin County to try to strike it rich.

In 1920 Thomas Maitland Marshall, a history professor at the University of Colorado in Boulder, put together a lengthy volume of Early Records of Gilpin County, 1859-1861.  This wonderful resource has now been digitized by our library.  It contains a history of the Gold Rush in Gilpin County and reprints of hundreds of articles of correspondence, meeting minutes, mining district legal documents, and much more.  If you are researching an early Gilpin County mining district, you can now find all in one place the records you might have had to visit numerous libraries and archives to view.  This is a terrific resource for learning about the mining business in early Colorado.

For more resources on the history, geology, etc. of Gilpin County, search our library's web catalog.  Also be sure and check out Riches and Regrets:  Betting on Gambling in Two Colorado Mountain Towns, by Patricia A. Stokowski (University Press of Colorado, 1996) for a history of gambling in Gilpin County.  Among the recipients of gambling funds is the State Historical Fund, which preserves historic sites around Colorado, including many of the historic buildings in Gilpin County itself.  For more on the State Historical Fund, see Guide to Colorado Historic Places:  Sites Supported by the Colorado Historical Society's State Historical Fund, also available for checkout from our library.   

1860s views of Black Hawk and Central City.  Photos courtesy Denver Public Library Western History Department.


National Library Week

National Library Week is here!  Celebrated April 9-15 this year, Library Week "is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation's libraries and library workers and to promote library use and support," says the American Library Association.  Libraries provide a vital service in our communities and this week is a great time to show your support.  In our own library's collection are many resources that illustrate the impact and importance of all types of libraries:


New Report on Heroin Use in Colorado

Today the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE) and several partner agencies released a new report on heroin use in Colorado.  Heroin in Colorado:  Preliminary Assessment is the product of the Heroin Response Work Group, which includes the Colorado Department of Human Services, the Colorado Attorney General's Office, the Governor's Office, and other partners in addition to CDPHE.  The need for the report comes from a recent spike in heroin use and overdoses in Colorado, according to CDPHE's press release

While this report is, according to CDPHE, the first ever State of Colorado report specific to heroin, we do have in our library other reports on drug use in Colorado that can provide additional statistics on heroin and overall drug use in the state.  These resources include


Time Machine Tuesday: Colorado and the Great War

This coming Thursday, April 6, will mark the 100th anniversary of America's entry into World War I.  Europe had been embroiled in the Great War since 1914, but U.S. President Woodrow Wilson had vowed to keep Americans out of the conflict.  As the bloody war dragged on, however, it became apparent that the United States could no longer sit on the sidelines.  Several U.S. ships had been damaged or sunk by German mines in the Atlantic, and when the British passenger ship Lusitania was torpedoed in 1915 -- resulting in the deaths of 128 Americans -- public opinion began to favor going to war with the Germans.  Many statesmen such as former President Theodore Roosevelt urged American entry into the war, but Wilson resisted.  By the late winter of 1917, however, the Germans had sunk several more American ships, and on April 2 Wilson finally asked Congress for a declaration of war.  The vote passed the Senate on April 4 and the House on April 6. 

This graphic appeared in the Boulder Daily Camera one hundred years ago today.
From the spring of 1917 through the war's end on November 11, 1918, more than 43,000 Coloradans served in the military, including soldiers and nurses "over there" as well as those filling military roles stateside.  Colorado Governor Julius Gunter wrote in the Rocky Mountain News that "our state is well advanced in preparation to bear its part and to do its share in all of the services President Wilson had in mind when he said: ‘It is not an army we must shape and train for war; it is a nation,’ and it further means that Colorado’s people, zealous to give their abilities and resources to the cause of the world’s democracy and liberty, are coordinated and unified in organizations that can quickly and effectively translate into action the policies of their chief executives, state and nation."*

America's participation in the Great War affected everybody, even schoolchildren.  The Colorado Superintendent of Public Instruction issued A War-Modified Course of Study for the Public Schools of Colorado, which has been digitized by our library.  Americans of German heritage were also affected, as they were targeted for their ethnic background even if they had been United States citizens their whole lives.  An interesting article on this topic, "The Ordeal of Colorado's Germans During World War I," appears in the Fall 1974 issue of the Colorado Historical Society's Colorado Magazine.  That magazine's successor, Colorado Heritage, also devoted the entire Winter 1992 issue to "The Turbulent Teens:  1910-1920," to accompany the Colorado History Museum's series of exhibits on each decade in Colorado history.  This publication can be checked out in print from our library.  Finally, you can read original newspaper accounts of Colorado's reaction to the entry into war by visiting the Colorado State Library's Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection

*Reprinted at https://coloradogenealogy.com/history/colorado_world_war.htm 


Protecting Colorado's Groundwater

Pesticides and chemicals can have an unhealthy effect on groundwater, so the Colorado Department of Agriculture, Colorado State University, and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment have teamed up "to protect groundwater and the environment from impairment or degredation due to the improper use of agricultural chemicals while allowing their proper and correct use." 

For further information, check out the program's website, including reports and information on current investigations.  You can also find numerous reports on the topic available from our library, including
Search our library's web catalog for additional reports.


Colorado Governors: John Evans

Colorado's second territorial governor, John Evans, is remembered for his many contributions to the development of Denver, including bringing the railroad to the young town and founding the Colorado Seminary, which became the University of Denver.  Evans is also remembered for being disgraced by his role in the Sand Creek Massacre and his subsequent resignation as governor.

Originally from Ohio, Evans was a medical doctor who, after moving to Chicago, quickly rose to the top ranks of his field.  He helped found Chicago's Mercy Hospital and Northwestern University (Evanston, Illinois, home of Northwestern, is named for him), founded the Illinois Medical Society, taught at Rush Medical College, and made several innovations in the field of obstetrics.  In addition to his medical work, Evans also invested in railroads, which brought him wealth.  Evans used his wealth to involve himself in Republican politics and became an avid supporter of Abraham Lincoln.  The President showed his gratitude by offering Evans the governorship of Washington Territory, which Evans declined; however, Evans accepted when Lincoln offered Colorado Territory a year later.  Evans served as territorial governor from 1862 to 1865.

In Colorado Evans continued his interest in railroads, using his influence to encourage the railroad builders to build to Denver, ensuring that the city would thrive.  He also worked with William N. Byers and others to encourage settlement in Colorado.  A devout Methodist, Evans got to know Colonel John Chivington, a Methodist minister, through their work in establishing the Colorado Seminary, which was founded in March 1864.  That summer, Indian attacks on white settlers and transportation systems caused many to call for their governor to do something to protect civilians.  Evans failed to create policy that would bring peace, so in November 1864, while Evans was away in Washington, D.C., Col. Chivington and his Colorado Volunteers attacked a peaceful camp of Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians at Sand Creek.  Because most of the victims of the massacre were women, children, and the elderly, Coloradans and Congress alike were indignant, and Governor Evans was forced to resign.*

Although Evans' political career had ended, his influence in Colorado had not, and until his death in 1897 he continued to be recognized as one of Denver's leading citizens.  He was responsible for finding the financing to bring the Union Pacific Railroad from Cheyenne to Denver in 1870 (Cheyenne being on the Transcontinental Railroad) and continued to serve on the Board of Trustees for both Colorado Seminary and Northwestern University until his death.  Today, Mount Evans, Denver's Evans Avenue, and the city of Evans, Colorado are all named for the governor.  Evans' children were also important in Denver's history.  William G. Evans ran the Denver Tramway Company, Anne Evans helped to found the Denver Art Museum and the Central City Opera, and Josephine Evans married a later Colorado governor, Samuel Elbert.

In our library you can find many resources about Governor Evans, the Evans family, and the Sand Creek Massacre.  There is a lengthy bio starting on page 10 in Volume 4 of the Colorado Historical Society's 1927 History of Colorado.  Also, Colorado: A History of the Centennial State (University Press of Colorado, 2005), which can be checked out from our library, covers Evans in depth, particularly regarding his financing of the railroad.  Evans is also profiled in several Colorado Magazine and Colorado Heritage articles:
  • Regarding Evans' influence on the railroads, see articles in the Spring 1973 issue.
  • For articles on Sand Creek, see the Fall 1964 and Fall 1968 issues. 
  • To learn about Evans' role in an early bid for statehood, see the January 1931 issue.
  • For biographies of the two Evans first ladies -- Evans' wife, Margaret, and daughter Josephine Evans Elbert -- see the January 1962 and October 1962 issues, respectively.
  • Issue 4, 1989 of Colorado Heritage explores the history of the Byers and Evans families upon the opening of the Byers-Evans House as a museum.  Governor Evans did not live in the 1883 house, but it was home to his descendants.  
Finally, Evans' gubernatorial records and a short bio are available from Colorado State Archives.

*In 2014 Northwestern University, which Evans had founded, undertook a study to determine Evans' role in the massacre.  The study concluded that while "no known evidence indicates that John Evans helped plan the Sand Creek Massacre or had any knowledge of it in advance," Evans "nonetheless was one of several individuals who, in serving a flawed and poorly implemented federal Indian policy, helped create a situation that made the Sand Creek Massacre possible."  The study continued that after the massacre Evans tried to rationalize and even defend it; and "his recollections of the event displayed complete indifference to the suffering inflicted on Cheyennes and Arapahos."  Therefore, the University concluded that its founder "deserves institutional recognition for his central and indispensable contributions to the establishment of Northwestern and its development through its early decades, but the University has ignored his significant moral failures before and after Sand Creek.  This oversight goes against the fundamental purposes of a university and Northwestern’s own best traditions, and it should be corrected."     


Time Machine Tuesday: Education in Early Colorado

What was the first school organized in Colorado, and who was the first teacher?  Where was the first schoolhouse?  What was Colorado's first taxpayer-supported public school system?   These and many other questions about Colorado's early education system can be answered in chapter 22 of the five-volume History of Colorado, 1927, available online from our library.  The education chapter begins on page 1149 of Volume 3

This publication, published by the State Historical and Natural History Society of Colorado (today known as History Colorado), was edited by their well-known historian LeRoy Hafen along with University of Colorado President Emeritus George Baker; individual chapters were contributed by subject-matter experts.  The education chapter is written by Thomas J. Mahan, an education professor at the State Teacher's College (today's University of Northern Colorado in Greeley).  Mahan's previous experience included serving as a school principal in Leadville and as a high school teacher in the Philippines.  (Volumes 4 and 5 include short biographies on hundreds of Coloradans, so if you're researching a Colorado notable from prior to 1927, History of Colorado is a good place to start.  Mahan's bio is on page 229 of Volume 5).

So what were Colorado's education firsts?  Mahan first reminds us that long before whites had established formal schools, the American Indians who inhabited the region had their own system of education and training.  However, regarding formalized (white) education systems, Colorado's first official teacher is considered to be Owen J. Goldrick, who established the first school on October 3, 1859, in the town of Auraria (now part of Denver).  Known as Union School, it did not have its own building, but rather the students met in "the room lately occupied by Colonel Inslee."  The first school to have a building constructed specifically for the purposes of education was not in Denver, but in Boulder.  In the summer of 1860, Boulder was a little town consisting of a handful of cabins and two general stores.  When a trained teacher, Abner Brown, arrived in town, he inquired about the number of children in the town and found it to be around forty, enough to start a school.  With the help of local residents, Brown constructed a cabin for a schoolhouse, and built the desks and furnishings, as well.  The little school served the community until 1872, when a larger building was needed.

Schoolhouse built by Abner Brown in 1860, from History of Colorado, volume 3.
Goldrick's, Brown's, and other early schools were funded by subscription, meaning they were paid for by the families of the students, while sometimes supplemented by voluntary contributions from community members.  The first taxpayer-funded public school system, however, was established in 1862.  That year, two public school districts were formed in Denver, one in East Denver known as District One, and one in West Denver known as District Two.  Each district had its own elected board.  Mahan's chapter quotes the Rocky Mountain News, which on December 16, 1862 reported that "'our public schools are now in successful operation.'"  (Today, Denver Public Schools are a single citywide system with one school board.)

You can find many more resources on the history of Colorado education by searching our library's online catalog.  In addition to Mahan's history, be sure to view the annual/biennial reports of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, which our library has digitized for 1874 through 1964.  

This photo collage from History of Colorado, volume 3, shows the various school buildings in Colorado prior to 1876, the year Colorado became a state.


Colorado Coal Resources

Coal is one of Colorado's most significant mineral resources, and over the years has played an important part in our state's history and economy.  You can learn about Colorado coal in numerous publications available from our library.  Some highlights from our collection include

General resources:


Inactive/abandoned mines:

Industry information:

  • The Archaeology of Class War:  The Colorado Coafield Strike of 1913-1914, 2009
  • Coal People:  Life in Southern Colorado's Company Towns, 1890-1930, 1999
  • From Redstone to Ludlow:  John Cleveland Osgood's Struggle Against the United Mine Workers of America, 2009
  • The Great Coafield War, 2009
  • High Altitude Energy:  A History of Fossil Fuels in Colorado, 2002
  • Industrializing the Rockies:  Growth, Competition, and Turmoil in the Coalfields of Colorado and Wyoming, 1868-1914, 2003
  • "Remember Ludlow!", 1999
  • Routt and Moffat Counties, Colorado, Coal Mining Historic Context, 1991
  • When Coal Was King:  A History of Crested Butte, Colorado, 1880-1952, 1999


Safety and inspection:




All About Pikes Peak

Pikes Peak as seen from Garden of the Gods.  Photo courtesy Colorado Tourism Office.
Without a doubt, it's Colorado's most famous mountain.  And while it's neither the tallest mountain in Colorado nor the most difficult to scale, Pikes Peak is famous for its visibility from the plains, its use as a symbol of the 1859 Colorado Gold Rush, and for the legendary explorer for whom it is named.

Zebulon Montgomery Pike, a U.S. Army soldier, arrived in present-day Colorado in 1806 to explore the lands that were now a part of the United States as a result of the Louisiana Purchase.  Pike and his men were assigned to search out the source of the Arkansas River.  While on this expedition, Pike spotted what he described as a "small blue cloud" in the distance.  This "cloud" turned out to be the peak that would be named in his honor.  Pike and his men wintered in the area at what came to be known as Pike's Stockade, and during the long winter Pike set out to explore the peak that had captured his interest.  Perhaps due to the heavy snows, Pike never did climb his peak; fourteen years later, a member of Stephen Long's Expedition named Edwin James became to be the first to climb it, so the mountain became known as James Peak for a time.*  However, when settlers began pouring into Colorado in the 1850s in search of gold, the mountain was renamed for its early admirer and became a symbol of the Gold Rush.  In fact, "Pike's Peak or Bust" became the rallying cry for the gold seekers.

According to official rankings, Pikes Peak is Colorado's 30th highest mountain, at 14,110 feet.  Colorado has 53 "fourteeners."  The spelling of the name can be confusing.  Since 1890 Pikes Peak has officially been spelled without the possessive apostrophe.  The U.S. Board of Geographic Names has removed nearly all apostrophes from place names for uniformity and ease of signage.  Colorado's Longs Peak also lacks the apostrophe.

Pikes Peak is also a major tourist attraction.  Visitors not only can hike up the mountain, but also have the option of driving up or taking the famous Pikes Peak Cog Railway.  Pikes Peak and nearby mining towns also make up the Gold Belt Tour Scenic & Historic Byway.

In our library you can find many resources relating to the history, geology, and biology of Pikes Peak.  Resources listed below without hyperlinks can be checked out in print.

For biographical resources on Zebulon Pike, see the following:
For resources on the Pikes Peak Gold Rush, see
To learn about the natural resources of Pikes Peak the surrounding area see
For resources on Pike's Stockade, see
For other historical information, see
  • History of Colorado, by LeRoy R. Hafen, State Historical and Natural History Society, 1927.
  • "The Naming of Pike's Peak," by Raymond Calhoun, Colorado Magazine, April 1954.
  • "Through a Glass Sharply:  Edwin James and the First Recorded Ascent of Pikes Peak, July 13-15, 1820," by Phil Carson.  Essays and Monographs in Colorado History, n. 14, 1994.
Additionally, mini-biographies of Zebulon Pike, Julia Archibald Holmes (first woman to summit Pikes Peak), and Daniel Cheesman Oakes (goldseeker and Pikes Peak guidebook author), are available from Colorado Virtual Library.  Also be sure to check the Colorado Encyclopedia for articles.

*The Arapaho Indians called it Long Mountain, and Spanish explorers knew it as El Capitán.


Time Machine Tuesday: Child Nutrition

March is National Nutrition Month.  This campaign for awareness of healthy eating began with National Nutrition Week in 1973, and expanded to a full month of commemoration in 1980.*  While National Nutrition Month promotes healthy eating for everyone, child nutrition is a special focus of the awareness campaign.

Colorado's promotion of child nutrition began long before the national commemorations were put in place.  In 1931, the Colorado Agricultural College's Extension Service published Health and Nutrition of the School Child, which you can read online from our library.  In comparing the child nutrition practices in this publication with those of today, readers will find that although technology and packaging have evolved (check out the portable oven on page 7!), the basic emphasis on fruits and vegetables, milk, and whole grains, along with fresh air, exercise, and good sleep, has not changed in nearly a century.

For more online publications visit our library's digital repository.

*Source:  http://www.eatright.org/~/media/eatright%20files/nationalnutritionmonth/nnmhistory_032006jada.ashx


Spring is Here!

Hooray, today is the first day of Spring!  Are you interested in learning about the plants and animals that Colorado springtime brings?  Our library has many resources that you can use to learn -- or teach your kids -- about springtime in Colorado.

Hearken!  It's Spring is a publication from the Colorado Division of Wildlife.  This title from their "Colorado's Wildlife Company" series is written for all ages, with fun facts and illustrations about Colorado wildlife.  Search our library's web catalog to find more titles from Colorado's Wildlife Company.

Planning a flower garden this spring?  Check out Spring-Planted Bulbs, Corms and Roots to learn about the best bulbs for growing in Colorado.  This is only one of hundreds of resources on Colorado gardening available from our library; search our web catalog for more titles.


St. Patrick's Day Activities for Kids

St. Patrick's Day is a celebration of Irish heritage and culture.  It's also a holiday for all ages and therefore a great day for teaching youngsters about Irish traditions.  In The Ties That Bind, an arts lesson plan kit from the Colorado Council on the Arts, you can find a chapter on St. Patrick's Day lessons for kids, especially tailored to Colorado.  The activities also tie in with Colorado education standards for social studies.  Teachers and activity leaders can use this toolkit to plan lessons about many aspects of Irish culture.  The kids can learn about Irish foods, art and music; Irish immigration to the United States; and more.   

The Ties That Bind is a helpful toolkit for teachers use year-round, as it includes lesson plans for teaching about other Colorado cultural traditions, including American Indians, Latinos, Hmong cultures, and even cowboys, as well as artistic traditions that reach across cultures.

Happy St. Paddy's Day from the State Publications Library!


Time Machine Tuesday: Public Opinion on Water Quality

This week we're only going back a decade, to 2007, but a lot has changed in ten years concerning today's topic.

A decade ago, the State of Colorado's Water Quality Control Division (WQCD) issued a report entitled Public Opinions on Water Quality Issues, which you can read online courtesy of our library.  The report contained the results of a statewide survey on water and environmental issues.  Recall, however, that in the decade since this report was published we have experienced events such as the Flint, Michigan water crisis, Colorado's 2013 floods, the 2015 Animas River spill, and increased interest in fracking, all of which may have caused opinions to change.  For instance, according to the 2007 report, just 71% of Coloradans surveyed reported that "the impact on public health is a very motivating reason to improve water quality."  Further, 93% of Coloradans believed their home drinking water was safe. 

How did opinion change over the decade?  In 2014, the WQCD issued a follow-up report that showed some moderately increased concern, although the percentage of respondents who believed their home drinking water to be safe only decreased from 93% to 90% (remember, the Flint crisis was just beginning in 2014).  However, the 2014 follow-up survey did show that water pollution had replaced air pollution as Coloradans' top environmental concern.* 

Now, three years have passed since the follow-up survey.  Have recent events caused more concern in Coloradans?  Or have state and local governments' recent efforts to improve water quality helped to bring back water users' confidence? We'll have to stay tuned for the next survey.

For many, many more reports and resources on water quality and other environmental issues in Colorado, search our library's online catalog.    

*Survey respondents were asked to rate the following environmental concerns:  water pollution, air pollution, climate change, habitat loss, and threatened/endangered species.  In 2007, air pollution and water pollution were nearly tied, with 35% of respondents rating air pollution as the top concern while 34% chose water pollution.  By 2014, the number of respondents rating water pollution as the top concern jumped to 42%, while air pollution trailed in a distant second at 21%.  The numbers for the other three concerns remained relatively stable.


Colorado Governors: William Gilpin

The first governor of Colorado Territory, William Gilpin, was appointed by Abraham Lincoln and served 1861-62.  Born in Pennsylvania in 1813, Gilpin participated in several western expeditions in the 1840s, served as a Major in the Mexican-American War, and was made a General in charge of protecting white settlers on the Santa Fe Trail.  When the Civil War broke out, Governor Gilpin helped raise troops to defend Colorado Territory from Confederate invasion.  He was removed from office a the following year after bringing the territory into debt.  Gilpin's post-gubernatorial career focused on railroad expansion.  He died in 1894; Gilpin County is named for him.

Publications from Gilpin's governorship are rare, but you can come to our library to view the 1861 House Journal of the Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Colorado.  Secondary sources on Gilpin include several articles in Colorado Magazine, including
  • "The Civil Administration of Governor William Gilpin," by Sheldon S. Zweig, in the July 1954 issue
  • "My Recollections of William Gilpin," by Clarence S. Jackson, which is Jackson's recollections of Gilpin's visits to his boyhood home in the 1880s.  Jackson's father was the famed photographer William Henry Jackson.  This article appears in the July 1949 issue.
  • "William Gilpin:  Sinophile and Eccentric," by Kenneth Porter, which discusses his views on the Chinese and railroads, in the October 1960 issue.  
  • "William Gilpin and the Destruction of the Desert Myth," in the Spring 1969 issue, which explores how Gilpin served as one of the West's great promoters and sought to shatter the myth of the "Great American Desert."
You can also find a biography of Gilpin's wife, Julia, in "Colorado's First Ladies:  Julia Pratte Gilpin," in the October 1961 issue.

For more resources on all of Colorado's governors visit our library's web catalog.

Photo courtesy Colorado State Archives


Colorado's Pioneer Women

Everyone knows about Colorado's famous women like Molly Brown and Baby Doe Tabor, but far less has been written about "ordinary" women in Colorado.  In reality, Colorado's early pioneer women often overcame great obstacles and harsh living conditions while helping shape the Colorado we know today.  This Women's History Month, let's take a look at some of the resources in our library that tell the story of Colorado's extraordinary pioneer women.

One of the most engaging ways to learn about history is through the voices of those who lived it.  Many Colorado women kept diaries or wrote memoirs about their lives in early-day Colorado.  Over the years, many of these reminiscences have been published in Colorado Heritage and its predecessor, Colorado Magazine.  The older issues in particular contain many personal stories, as many pioneers were still alive to share them.  Check out the following issues from our library to read the stories of these remarkable women, in their own words:
  • "'Pioneer Interviews' Reveal Hardship and Humor," in the September-October 2014 issue, talks about the interviews of Colorado pioneers undertaken by the WPA during the Great Depression.  Many women were interviewed and the article provides some great quotes.
  • Wilma Davis Gundy grew up on a Colorado farm during the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl.  Her reminiscences have appeared in "Snapshots from Old Soddy:  A Farm Girl's Life on the Eastern Colorado Plains in the 1930s and '40s," in the Autumn 2004 issue, and "Plains Grit:  More Memories from an Eastern Colorado Farm," in the Autumn 2008 issue.
  • The Summer 2003 issue explores early Colorado ranching life through a woman's eyes in "'Papa Bought Some Cattle': The Diary of Mary Davis Painter."  For more on the Painter family, see the Colorado Encyclopedia.
  • Photographs supplement the story of one pair of sisters in "'Learn to Labor and Wait':  The 1899 Diary of Anna Kennicott with the Glass Plate Photography of Eugenia Kennicott," in the Summer 1999 issue.  See some of the photos here.
  • Frances Clelland Peabody's memories of the westward journey as a five-year-old can be found in the March 1941 issue of Colorado Magazine in the article "Across the Plains De Luxe in 1865."  Frances grew up to became Colorado's First Lady.
  • The November 1937 issue features "Pioneering Experiences, As Told by Emma Doud Gould to Halie Gould."
    Emma Doud Gould.
  • Susan Riley Ashley contributed "Reminiscences of Early Colorado," in the March 1937 issue, and "Reminiscences of Colorado in the Early 'Sixties," in the November 1936 issue.
  • "Crossing the Plains in War Times," in the July 1933 issue, is the memoir of Mrs. Halie Riley Hodder.
  • The story of a woman's westward journey is also told in Elizabeth Keyes' diary, excerpted in "Across the Plains in a Prairie Schooner" in the March 1933 issue
  • "Life at Camp Weld and Fort Lyon in 1861-62, an Extract from the Diary of Mrs. Byron N. Sanford" appeared in the July 1930 issue.  Her full diary was later published in Mollie:  The Diary of Mollie Dorsey Sanford in Nebraska and Colorado Territories, 1857-1866.
Mollie Dorsey Sanford, left, and her sister Nan in about 1857.  Photo courtesy Littleton Museum.

For further reading on Colorado's pioneer women, see the following resources, also available for checkout from our library:
  • Colorado Women:  A History, by Gail M. Beaton, University Press of Colorado, 2012.
  • Long Vistas:  Women and Families on Colorado Homesteads, by Katherine Harris, University Press of Colorado, 1993.
  • On Colfax Avenue:  A Victorian Childhood, by Elizabeth Young, Colorado Historical Society, 2004.  A memoir of growing up in Denver in the 1890s.
  • Pioneer Potluck:  Stories and Recipes of Early Colorado, Colorado Historical Society, 1963.
Search our library's online catalog for more resources.


Time Machine Tuesday: Colorado Railroads

In 1885, there were 2,840.51 miles of railroad track in Colorado.  That year, W.B. Felker, the State Railroad Commissioner, issued his first annual report to the Governor.  This report is a treasure trove of information for anyone researching early Colorado railroads.  It includes statistics on mileage, passengers, freight, bridges, personnel, accidents, and more.  The report also contains detailed financial records including taxes, earnings, operating expenses, debt, and stocks.

Following the general statistics, the report presents detailed statistics from each of the individual railway companies -- the Burlington & Colorado Railroad; the Atchison, Topeka, & Santa Fe Railroad; the Pueblo & Arkansas Valley Railroad; the Denver & Rio Grande Railway; the Denver and New Orleans Railroad; the Denver, Utah, and Pacific Railroad; the Denver Circle Railroad; the Colorado Central Railroad; the Denver, South Park & Pacific Railroad; the Denver & Boulder Valley Railway; the Denver and Middle Park Railroad; the Greeley, Salt Lake & Pacific Railway; the Georgetown, Breckenridge & Leadville Railway; the Golden, Boulder & Caribou Railway; and the Union Pacific Railway.

The next section of the report deals with complaints investigated by the Railroad Commissioner.  This section includes case reports, Commissioner opinions, and reprints of correspondence, giving valuable insight into the operations of the railway companies.  The final section of the report is an appendix containing the state's railroad laws and regulations.

In the next edition available in our library's collection, which covers the years 1891-92, Commissioner W.A. Hamill presented only a brief statistical report, which lacks the detailed company annual reports found in the 1885 edition.  However, the statistics included do provide a great deal of information.

Sometime between 1892 and 1907 the reports ceased publication, because in 1907 the Railroad Commission (now a board rather than an individual) issued its First Annual Report.  Following that issue, the reports were renamed Biennial Report and our library has the reports for 1909-10 and 1911-12.  These reports no longer include statistical information (a note in the introduction explains that statistics are available from other sources) however they still include complaints and case information as well as accident reports and railroad laws and regulations.

In 1913-14 the Railroad Commission report was consolidated with the Public Utilities Commission reports.  The next several decades' railroad information can be found in these reports.

In an age before automobiles and airplanes, railroads were a vital part of life in Colorado.  These reports provide valuable insight into this important part of Colorado's past.

Denver & Rio Grande locomotive #267 near Cimarron, Colorado, August 1885.  Courtesy History Colorado.


March 5-11 is Consumer Protection Week

Many government agencies and nonprofits will be recognizing National Consumer Protection Week March 5-11, 2017.  Colorado's Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) will be recognizing the week with numerous events during the week, including a Consumer Protection Fair at CU-Boulder on March 9.  For a schedule of events, see DORA's press release.

DORA's website contains numerous resources to help consumers protect themselves from fraud, identity theft, civil rights violations, deceptive practices, and more.  Among DORA's resources is Take 5 to Get Wise, which encourages consumers that "taking five minutes now to review important consumer information and using the tools we provide could help save you time and headaches later."  This lighthearted, user-friendly site provides information on verifying licenses, filing complaints, keeping your money safe, understanding insurance, and other topics.

Outside of DORA, consumer protection is also a mission of the Colorado Attorney General's Office.  On their website you can find Stop Fraud Colorado, their consumer protection website.  Other state agencies, such as the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Public Health and Environment, and the Colorado Department of Revenue provide consumer information in their area of focus.

Our library contains numerous consumer information resources, which you can access by searching our library's web catalog.


Gardening with Native Plants

Spring is coming, and as you begin planning your yard and garden, consider the benefits of using native plants.  Native plant species are a good choice because they are adapted to Colorado's climate and soil, so can be easy to grow here in Colorado.  Native plants are also good for water conservation, as they are adapted to growing in Colorado's arid climate.  Finally, native plants attract local pollinators (bees, birds, butterflies), which are essential to plant reproduction.

Many varieties of penstemon, including the Rocky Mountain penstemon shown here, are native to Colorado. Photo courtesy Colorado State University Extension.

Our library offers a number of resources that you may find helpful if you choose to grow native plants, including

Also, for information on pollinators, see


Colorado Mountain College 50th Anniversary

To celebrate its 50th Anniversary this year, Colorado Mountain College has set up a new website to gather stories and memories about the school.  You can use the website to learn about the history of the college, find out about anniversary events, view photos, and watch interviews with the college founders.

If you're a CMC alum and want to reminisce, or to find out about the school's past programs, our library has copies of the college's catalog back to 1982.  Other historical information on the college available from our library includes budgets and financial audits.

Search our library's online catalog for resources on the histories of all of Colorado's state-funded colleges and universities.


Time Machine Tuesday: Public Welfare and Institutions, 1939

Our library collection contains many state reports about public welfare in the Great Depression.  Among these is a report from 1939, addressed to the Governor and State Legislature, regarding corrections and institutions.  The report examines "the functions, the internal organization, and the more important procedures of the welfare institutions of the state."  These institutions included the Colorado State Hospital; the Colorado Psychopathic Hospital; the two branches of the State Home and Training School for Mental Defectives; the Colorado General Hospital; the State Reformatory; the State Industrial Schools, which included one for boys and one for girls; the State Penitentiary; the State Home for Dependent and Neglected Children; and the Soldier's and Sailor's Home.  The report details results of a study and recommendations to state leadership regarding state oversight of these institutions. 

Among their recommendations was the establishment of a state Department of Institutions. Prior to the Great Depression institutions had been overseen by a Board of Charities and Corrections, but as the population grew and many suffered the economic effects of the Depression, the need for a larger state agency became apparent.  The State Department of Institutions was officially created about a decade later, in 1951, and lasted until 1994, when its functions were split between various new departments including the Department of Corrections and the Department of Human Services. 

Researchers can learn more about all of the institutions examined in the 1939 report by consulting the many reports on each individual institution, available from our library.  Among those accessible online are
There are many more reports on Colorado's early state institutions available for viewing in print from our library.  Search our library's online catalog for titles.


Preventing Identity Theft When Filing Your Taxes

Tax season has arrived, and filing your taxes requires the disclosure of a significant amount of personal information -- making it a target for thieves who want to steal your identity, or your refund.  The Colorado Department of Revenue has issued some helpful tips, reproduced below, to heighten awareness and help protect yourself during tax filing season:

 • Protect personal information. Treat your Social Security number, driver license number and other personal data as you would cash – don’t leave it lying around. Don’t overshare on social media.

• Use security software with firewall and anti-virus protections. Use automatic updates. Encrypt your tax returns and other sensitive data. Use strong passwords.

• Beware of phishing emails during this time of year. Are you expecting a message from your bank or tax software company to update your account? A link may take you to a fake website that is designed to steal your log-on information. The attachment you open may include a program that allows a thief to get into your sensitive files.

•  Beware of phone scams referencing a tax filing or tax payment. If you get a call from an aggressive or belligerent person who says you will be sued or jailed if you don’t make an immediate payment, know this: that person is a fraud. Clever criminals pose as trusted organizations. While the Colorado Department of Revenue may contact taxpayers by phone about their Colorado tax account, the fraud review section will only contact taxpayers by U.S. Mail. If Department staff call you for official business, they will provide their name and office name.

These are just a few tips to keep in mind as you begin filing your taxes.  For further information, the Colorado Department of Revenue has set up a couple of very helpful websites:  Taxpayer Security Awareness and Reporting Identity Theft, and Taxpayer Identification VerificationYou can also find helpful information about identity theft on the Colorado Attorney General's Stop Fraud Colorado consumer protection website.


Medication Take-Back Programs

Beginning this year the State of Colorado has expanded its efforts to encourage consumers to "take back" their unwanted medications.  Take-back programs help the environment by keeping unused pharmaceuticals out of the water supply and the landfills.  Flushing or throwing away medications can harm wildlife and even get into our own drinking water supply.  According to one source, "there is genuine concern that [pharmaceuticals in the environment] could be causing impacts to human health."  Antibiotics, hormones, and other pharmaceutical compounds have been detected in drinking water across the United States.

So what can you do to help?  If you have medications you no longer need, including expired medications or leftovers from old prescriptions, do not flush them or throw them away.  Instead, bring them to one of Colorado's many permanent drop-off sites, typically located in drugstores and other convenient sites.  According to a press release from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the state plans to have drop-off locations in every county by the end of 2017.  You can learn more by visiting takemedsseriously.org, a consumer-directed website developed through a partnership between the Colorado Governor's Office, the Colorado Attorney General's Office, and the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention.  In addition to the information on medication disposal, the site also includes resources on safe use, safe storage, and more.

For further data, see Unused Medication Disposal in Colorado, a report from the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment.


Time Machine Tuesday: Old School Images

If you're looking for early photos of Colorado's schools, you may not think to look in government documents.  But in fact the State of Colorado in the late 1800s/early 1900s often included images in its biennial reports of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the School for the Deaf and the Blind, and other child-serving agencies.  And since many of the reports are dated before 1923, it is easy to find images that are in the public domain.   Here is a sampling of some of the great education-related images that can be found in old Colorado documents:

Denver's Manual High School, from the 1891-92 Biennial Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction

The Hale Scientific Building at the University of Colorado, Boulder, from the 1891-92 Biennial Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction 
Floorplan of Denver's Emerson School, in the Capitol Hill neighborhood.  From the 1883-84 report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction

The Girls' Industrial School, near Morrison, from the 1907-08 Biennial Report of the State Board of Charities and Correction 

Administration Building, Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind, from the school's 1905-06 Biennial Report.

The "yard crew" at the Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind, from the school's 1899-1900 report.

Montrose County High School soon after completion, from the 1909-10 Biennial Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction

Ashland School in North Denver; from the 1899-1900 Biennial Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction

A rural school in Larimer County, from the 1899-1900 Biennial Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction

A rural school in Clear Creek County, also from the 1899-1900 Biennial Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

A rural school in Phillips County, from the 1895-96 Biennial Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

The Georgetown School, from the 1895-96 Biennial Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Students on the playground at Norrie School, Pitkin County, from the 1901-02 Biennial Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

State documents are good places to find other photos and architectural drawings, as well; for instance, many reports contain photos or drawings of the State Capitol, such as the image below from the 1892-94 report of the State Board of Health. Search other reports for institutions, penitentiaries, and other state buildings.

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