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FAQ

How do I find books, maps, or manuscripts?
  • Most books and maps can be located by using the Library catalog. All Archives Collections are cataloged as well 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. In the Library catalog, items in the Western History and Genealogy Department generally have a C at the beginning of the Call Number in the catalog record and the Branch listed is Central Library - West Hist & Genealogy.  Items in the Department may not be circulated, meaning they are for in library use only.

 

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I'm having trouble connecting to the HeritageQuest database from home.
  • You must use the link on the Denver Public Library's website, or this direct link to get to HeritageQuest
    This is the only link that has the DPL Library card validation built in.
  • You will be prompted for your Denver Public Library card and last name.
  • If that link doesn't work, try clearing your cache or temporary Internet files, to ensure that you are not drawing on an earlier unsuccessful attempt.
  • If you are asked for another password after you've entered your library card and last name, that usually is an indication that something in your set-up is not compatible with the database.
  • Some databases are not compatible with the AOL browser or other proprietary browsers. After connecting to the Internet, minimize AOL and open a standard browser such as Internet Explorer, Firefox or Safari.
  • If you have a personal firewall or other Internet security software, it may be blocking the referring URL. You can see that from the Referring URL line in the Diagnostics table. If it says 'None' or shows nothing, then the referring URL is being blocked. You will need to refer to the user's manual for your security software to determine how to add trusted sites to the software. Add heritagequestonline.com and persi.heritagequestonline.com as trusted sites.
  • Cookies must be enabled. To enable cookies in Internet Explorer: Go to Tools, Internet Options, Privacy. Move the slider to Low. Your other option from the Privacy screen is to select “Edit” and enter heritagequestonline.com and persi.heritagequestonline.com and select “Allow.”
  • See also a document created by ProQuest on Firewall and Browser Configuration. This document shows which settings need to be adjusted for various firewalls and security software. It also shows the cookie settings for Internet Explorer. Under the heading for the security software you're using, click on the HeritageQuest Online link to see the instructions. There is also a link to contact ProQuest Technical Support if you still can't connect.

 

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Some years of the Denver Obituary Index appear to be missing. Where are they?
  • Not all of our obituary indexes are available online. We do have comprehensive indexes in print. If you are looking for a specific obituary, please email us. Please include the name and approximate date of death. Or you may call or visit the Western History & Genealogy section of the Central Library: 720-865-1821.

 

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Why isn't Ancestry Library Edition database available from home?
  • Ancestry Library Edition is a library version of Ancestry.com. Ancestry.com is targeted to the home user and its premium content requires an individual subscription. You have the choice to subscribe to Ancestry.com to use at home, or to visit the Library to access Ancestry Library Edition.

 

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When did the Denver Public Library begin collecting Western Americana?
  • The beginning of the Western History Collection of the Denver Public Library goes back to the early 1900s when the Library established a Colorado collection for the purpose of bringing together books and pamphlets by Colorado authors. By 1934 the collection had increased in size and quality to warrant the establishment of a separate Department under the direction of City Librarian Malcolm Glenn Wyer. In January 1935 the Western History Department was opened to the public.

 

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What can be found in the Western Americana collection?
  • Today the Western History Department is recognized for having one of the outstanding collections of Western Americana in the country. The collection reflects all phases of development of the trans-Mississippi West. It includes some 100,000 cataloged books and pamphlets and approximately 600,000 photographs, of which over 120,000 have been cataloged and digitized and are accessible on the Internet in the Western History Digital Image Catalog (formerly Photoswest). Also in the collection are 6,000 maps and atlases; hundreds of Western journals and newspapers; and large holdings of manuscripts, business records, scrapbooks, prints, and original art.

 

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What Special Collections do you have?
  • Collections of special depth include publications of Western railroads, reports and maps of Colorado mining companies, trade catalogs, records and printed memorabilia of Buffalo Bill's Wild West shows, frontier theater programs, land grant materials, Colorado territorial imprints, architectural drawings, and extensive clipping files of local newspapers. Other important collections include the bountiful resources that pertain to the American Indian, the Hispanic contributions in the West with special emphasis on the Southwest and the Asian communities' contribution to both the 19th and 20th century western experience.
  • Bibliographic access to a majority of the Department's books, pamphlets, manuscripts, and maps is available through the Library's catalog. One of the unique treasures of the Department is the extensive "General Index" card file that contains more than seven million entries on four million cards. The General Index is an every-name index to the Rocky Mountain News from 1865-85 (a WPA project) and a partial index to other newspapers, local histories, biographical works, journals and manuscripts from the late 1800s to early 1995.

 

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What is included in the Genealogy Collection?
  • The Genealogy Collection is the second largest between the Mississippi River and the West Coast and the largest in the Rocky Mountain area. Family history researchers find material spanning dozens of generations and covering a wide spectrum of ethnic and geographic categories. The collection covers the entire United States and includes over 60,000 books, 75,000 pieces of microform, and hundreds of magazine and newsletter titles, charts, clippings, atlases and manuscripts.
  • The Genealogy Collection, begun in 1910 under the direction of City Librarian Chalmers Hadley, is the official depository of materials from the Colorado Genealogical Society, the Colorado Council of Genealogical Societies, Colorado Chapter of Palatines to America, the Colorado Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society, the Olibama Lopez Tushar Hispanic Heritage Research Center, and Wales, Ireland, Scotland, England Family History Society, as well as many hereditary and patriotic societies.
  • The Genealogy Collection is primarily a U.S. research collection. The past few years have seen an emphasis on acquiring Southern, African American, American Indian, and Hispanic resources. There is a sizable number of works on Great Britain and Europe. Special features of the Collection include:

 

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Does the Library offer any classes about genealogy?
  • Classes are frequently offered in conjunction with the Colorado Genealogical Society. To find out about classes, discussions, and other genealogical learning opportunities at the Western History and Genealogy Department, see our Events Calendar or visit the News, Classes and Exhibits page.

 

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Do you have any original manuscripts, photographs or audio/video materials?
  • The Denver Public Library's Archives Collection comprises material on the American West, particularly Colorado and the Rocky Mountain Region; on the 20th century environmental conservation movement in the United States; on the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division of World War II, and the papers of author Eugene Field.
  • The repository contains historical documents, personal papers, correspondence, diaries and journals, scrapbooks, architectural records, club and association papers, natural resource management documents, business records, photographs, films and oral histories. More than 3,800 collections range in history and size from an 1835 diary documenting an expedition to the Rockies (Lemuel Ford) to over 400 boxes of organizational records donated by The Wilderness Society.
  • 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.

 

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What are your hours of operation?
  • The Western History and Genealogy Department is located on the fifth level of the Central Library, 10 West Fourteen Avenue Parkway, at the Civic Center in downtown Denver. The Department is open to the public during the following hours:
  • Monday: 10 a.m. - 8 p.m.
  • Tuesday: 10 a.m. - 8 p.m.
  • Wednesday: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
  • Thursday: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
  • Friday: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
  • Saturday: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
  • Sunday: 1 - 5 p.m.

 

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What guidelines are there for out-of-town researchers?
  • There is a parking garage directly south of the Central Library. The entrance is on 12th Avenue. For a map, rates and other parking information, visit the Denver Public Library website.
  • For lodging, you may try Google Maps or another similar service.
    • From this web site, click on "hotels and visitors," followed by "hotels by neighborhood," and perform a search for hotels in "downtown Denver."
    • The Library is located at the corner of 13th and Broadway.
    • You can walk, quite easily, to the library from these downtown hotels. (Also, a free shuttle bus on 16th Street runs from Union Station to Civic Center Station.)
    • Prices, of course, vary.
  • Due to the urban nature of the downtown area, food, lodging, and entertainment are very easy to locate. Google Maps will plot hotels/restaurants on a map for you.
  • For free brochures, guides, maps and visitor information, visit the Denver Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau website or contact them at 1-800-2DENVER.
  • Most of the Archives Collections are open for research and contain no restrictions. These materials are available on the day of your arrival. However, it is recommended to contact the Western History and Genealogy Department before making your first visit. Contacting the Department will save you time in the long run and will give you an opportunity to find out if the archive can realistically help your research or give you an estimate of how long your research will take.
  • During the initial visit, you will be asked to fill out a registration form which will request your name and address, the title of the collection desired and a picture ID. This document ensures that researchers are familiar with the Department's policies on copyright, restrictions, and photocopying. Researchers are not required to have a letter of introduction. With advance notice of your arrival, staff can set materials aside for your use.

 

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Can manuscript material be photocopied?
  • The Western History staff will photocopy all requests. If the paper is in poor condition, the material may not be photocopied. Copying large segments of a collection or an entire collection is not permitted.

 

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Do you have finding aids for Archives Collections?
  • The Department has Archives Finding Aids for many but not all collections. Archives Finding Aids are detailed guides to primary source material which provide fuller information than that normally contained within cataloging records. This site provides links to all the Archival Finding Aids at the Denver Public Library which have been encoded in XML using Encoded Archival Description.
  • The Denver Public Library is encoding finding aids with XML and then publishing them on the web using PLEADE enabling users to browse and then read the finding aids online. PLEADE is a highly configurable web publication framework, including a search engine, for Encoded Archival Description documents. The appearance of the online finding aids will be similar to the model provided by SGML and XML implementations, with a navigator that shows the structure of the document and functions as a hypertext table of contents to the file and a search engine.
  • Here are our online Archives Finding Aids.

 

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What specific areas does the Library cover in its Archives Collection?
  • 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 document 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. 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.
  • Numerous organizations and businesses have donated records 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.
  • Manuscripts and photographs 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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Does the Department collect maps of the Western United States?
  • The Library's historical map collection documents a wide range of locales, time frames, and themes, providing information about mining, land use, road development, and political boundaries. Many rare, historic maps of Colorado and the West are available for use in the Western History and Genealogy Department's W.S. Jackson Family Map Area. Search the catalog for maps using "maps" and a location name.
  • Though our maps focus primarily on the Western United States, we have historical maps of every state in the Union.

 

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Does the Library give a prize for the best book about the history of the West?

 

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Who is eligible for a Denver Public Library card and how can I get one?

 

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When I click the print button I receive the message "Sorry! There is no access to this file directly..."
  • If you have Internet security software, it may be blocking the printing function. Try to print again with the software disabled.

 

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Updated: June 25, 2013