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Archives Collection

More than 3,800 collections range in history and size from an 1835 diary documenting an expedition to the Rockies (Lemuel Ford) to 396 boxes of organizational records donated by The Wilderness Society.

For questions and information about donations, processing, finding aids, and specific collections, see, "About the Archives and Finding Aids." Here is information for out-of-town researchers.

All Archives Collections are cataloged and a brief record is available through the Library catalog. Only a portion of the Archives Collection has extensive online guides found in the Archives Finding Aids that contain detailed descriptive information and lists of contents.

Western History

From the 1858 gold prospectors in Cherry Creek, Kansas Territory, to 20th century growth in the Rocky Mountain region, Colorado has played an important role in Western History. Pioneer settlement, the adjustment of divergent Euroamerican, Asian American, and American Indian cultures, plains and mountain railroad development, the economic booms and busts of the mining industry, and Civil War and Spanish American War involvement - all have pivotal Colorado references.

The Western History Archives Collection documents topics including the exploration of the Rocky Mountains, militia activities, Colorado politicians, dignitaries, prominent citizens, frontier families, and regional, state, and local government organizations and businesses. The scope of the collection is from mid-nineteenth century to current times.

Prominent and Ordinary Individuals and Families

The archives contain documentation on prominent and sometimes controversial individuals, for example, George Bent, John Chivington, Nathan Cook Meeker, Horace Greeley, Buffalo Bill and James Denver. The papers of prominent families include those of William O. Collins, William S. Jackson, the Kountze brothers (banking), and Grenville Dodge (Civil War and Union Pacific Railroad). In addition, the Archives Collection contains the papers of individuals who fought with militia regiments, worked in the mines or who traveled to the frontier during the 1850s and 1860s. Although their names are not well-known, their diaries, correspondence and reports provide important information on the conflicts and events that transpired on the Western frontier.

Social Organizations and Businesses

Numerous organizations and businesses have donated papers to the department. Organizations include civic agencies, like the Denver Chamber of Commerce and the City Club of Denver. Local neighborhood groups are represented, such as the Capitol Hill United Neighborhood and the University Park PTA and Community Council. The department houses the papers of socially conscious, non-profit organizations, such as the Colorado AIDS Project, Neighborhood House and the Mullen Foundation.

We are guardians of the records of organizations such as The Pan American Club, Business and Professional Women's Club of Denver, American Indian Science and Engineering Society, Colorado Archaeological Society, Colorado Folklore Society, Colorado State Association of Colored Women's Clubs, The Ladies' Relief Society of Denver and the Musicians Society of Denver. Together, these collections illuminate Denver's cultural heritage and social history.

Some of the collections that document business history in Denver and Colorado are: Denver Tramway Corporation, Elizabeth Mercantile Company, Swedish Medical Center, Rippey Advertising Company, Patrick Red Sandstone Company, Inc., and Moffat Estate Company.

Writers, Artists, Theater

Manuscripts and records of prominent writers, arts programs, visual artists, performers and theatrical companies date from the 1880s to current times. Manuscripts of revered writers such as Eugene Field, the children's poet who lived in Denver while working for local newspapers, complement the collection. The papers of artists Angelo Di Benedetto and Vance Kirkland document regional and national art exhibits and programs from the 1920s to the 1980s. The Colorado Writers Program, which operated under the WPA Federal Writers Project, is accessible to researchers, as well as the records of two exceptional Denver theaters, Su Teatro and Changing Scene.


The architecture collections date from the 1880s through current times and cover the work of major regional architects, including Burnham Hoyt, Fisher & Fisher, Temple Buell, William Muchow, and Victor Hornbein. S. R. DeBoer, one of Denver's major landscape architects and city planners, deposited his extensive professional records with the department. Building, landscape, and city zoning plans offer insights into the development of professional regional architecture and urban planning.

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A photo of the Jackson family from the William Sharpless Jackson Manuscript Collection [1914].

A photo of the Jackson family from the William Sharpless Jackson Collection [1914].

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Updated: June 25, 2013