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Welcome to The Denver Public Library's Western History/Genealogy News. This page is updated monthly and includes:
A note about the Archives Collection: 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 including the following new materials.
A grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) created a partnership between the Denver Public Library Western History/Genealogy Department and the City and County of Denver Clerk and Recorder's Office. The goal is to conserve the historical records of the Clerk and Recorder's Office while providing access to the public. The Library, through this partnership, has become a municipal archive for the City of Denver with a mission to preserve documents that have shaped the history of Denver. Some of these records are available to the public and parts are restricted, accessible only to those individuals named in the records or those that can offer proof of direct relationship. These marriage records will be restricted for 75 years to protect privacy due to the threat of identity theft. Accordingly all social security numbers will also be removed. Find more information on how to access these records on the History site.
Volunteers just completed the Rogers Mortuary Collection Death Index. Nearly a dozen volunteers, led by Lou-Jean Holland Rehn, indexed 63,000,000,000 records dating back to July of 1880 when Isaac N. Rogers moved his mortuary business from Leadville to Denver. A few years are missing, but typically these records contain the name of the deceased, date of death, often the date of birth, names of parents and their places of birth. In 1950, Clarence Endlsey purchased the mortuary business from Robert P. Long, Isaac Rogers' grandson. A year earlier, Long purchased the Nash-Miller Mortuary and those records have been indexed too. Endsley closed the mortuary in 1980 and the records sat in his garage for more than two decades. Some sustained water, dust and insect damage, but still they are a great resource for genealogists. The index will eventually be available online, but the exact date is not known.
A treasure hidden within the papers of former Mayor Tom Currigan is an exchange of letters between Currigan and Denver Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Kenneth Oberholtzer. The October 6, 1965 letter reads, in part: "During the course of a recent neighborhood meeting, I had the occasion to meet a young man, Mr. Wellington Webb. . [that] was telling me of his deep desire to become a part of our Denver Public School system. . I was impressed by his manner and sincerity." Currigan asked the superintendent to "look into his case" which Oberholtzer did, but could not offer Webb a job though he did write Currigan that there was "a possibility of some vacancies at the beginning of the second semester." Though eventually offered a job, Webb never did work for the Denver Public Schools, but was elected Mayor of Denver in 1991, the first of his three terms.
The 10th Mountain Division Collection contains numerous records that document the mountain and winter warfare training, which occurred at Camp Hale, Colorado during World War II. Recently, we received a small collection that illuminates a different aspect of the Camp Hale Experience. Eleanor Haack Papers document the nurses who were stationed at Camp Hale. The collection comprises thirty-seven black and white photographic prints showing medical and nursing staff engaged in various activities with most of the personnel identified. Eleanor Haack was born November 29, 1919 in Grand Island, Nebraska. She received a nursing degree in December 1943 from Lincoln General Hospital Nursing School, Lincoln, Nebraska and joined the U.S. Army Nurses Corps in 1944. She received her basic training at Camp Carson, Colorado before being stationed at Camp Hale, Colorado and commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant. Following her service at Camp Hale, Eleanor transferred to the Pacific Theater to aid in the war against Japan. After World War II, Eleanor married and returned to Grand Island, Nebraska where she worked as a school nurse, hospital head nurse and in numerous doctors' offices.
The Western History and Genealogy Department is home to over 4,000 Archival Collections having to do with the history of Colorado and the states west of the Mississippi. We have countless families, individuals, businesses, and organizations to thank for our Archival Collections, which contain original materials such as correspondence, business records, meeting minutes, speeches, legislative files, scrapbooks, journals, diaries, and photographs. The generosity of our donors has allowed countless researchers to glean one-of-a-kind information about Colorado and the West, and it has enabled generations of family members to visit the Library and learn about their ancestors. We consider our archival collections to be treasures of the Library, and we are grateful for the opportunity to preserve and provide access to them.
We invite our readers to e-mail answers to these questions about the unidentified photograph:
There is no prize for an answer. In fact we ask for documentation of your answer. The readers who can provide the missing information will receive our thanks and a certificate recognizing them as an honorary reference librarian for the Western History/Genealogy Department of the Denver Public Library. Send your information to GenHist@denverlibrary.org and don't forget to include the source of your information.
This month the mystery photo is from the papers of former Denver Mayor William H. McNichols. Efforts to document that it is a photo of his father, William H. McNichols Sr. have failed. If it is the senior McNichols, he served for more than three decades as the auditor of the City and County of Denver.
Each year dozens of types of media materials are donated to the Denver Public Library. This array of media represents one of the biggest challenges for archivists. Examples include: wire recordings from the mid 1940s, phonograph records dating from the 1930s in various speeds, audiocassettes, 8-track cartridge recordings, nearly a dozen different formats of videotapes, 16mm, 35mm, 8mm and super8 films, not to mention various unique dictation machine media. Finding machines on which to play back these materials is a challenge now and the difficulty will only increase in the future.
Sometimes donors will include a machine as part of their donation, more often though only the media on which pictures, programs, songs, etc. have been recorded constitute their donation. Media obsolescence has accelerated since the arrival of digital media. Previously, media formats would last for several decades; today several years seems to be the standard life span, although at times it seems like only a few months between the “paradigm shifts” touted by manufacturers.
The arrival of over-the-air digital television signals will result in many people replacing their analog sets with new digital screens. The Denver Public Library hopes to receive donations of television sets resulting from this conversion. Smaller 12 to 19” sets are preferred, especially those with audio and video inputs, as they provide a good size screen for individual viewing. However donations should not be confined to TV sets. Other media players (preferably in working condition would also be considered.) Contact Ellen Zazzarino at 720-865-1905 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any AV equipment or materials that you think would be useful to the Denver Public Library.
Volunteers are also needed to help process the audio-visual archives of the Western History Collection. Some expertise or experience with media is desirable, but not required.
Individuals, businesses, and organizations are welcome to contact the Library to discuss donating materials having to do with the history of Colorado and the West. Such materials may include, but are not limited to, original personal and professional correspondence, organizational and business records, meeting minutes, memos, speeches, legislative files, subject files, scrapbooks, journals/diaries, and photographs.
We are particularly interested in locating archival materials that document the following areas of state and regional history:
Volunteers are always welcome to assist with the processing of the Archives Collections and processing the related photographs. If you are interested in volunteering to help process Archives Collections, contact the volunteer office.
This month, six recent additions to the Western History print collection, works that individually and collectively reflect the scope and diversity of the West. We travel to a neighboring state, over the border, to the heart of a city, across flowered fields, to the top of the world, beyond the grave - and, as always, into the past.
March 2007, April 2007, May/June 2007, July 2007, August 2007, September 2007, October 2007, December 2007, January 2008, February 2008, March 2008, April 2008, May 2008, June 2008, July 2008, August 2008
"When the Democrats First Came to Denver" is a collaborative exhibition by the Denver Public Library Western History/Genealogy Department, The Colorado Historical Society and the Auraria Casa Mayan Heritage.
Local committee badge on display at the Denver Public Library as part of the exhibition commemorating the 1908 Democratic National Convention.
Photographs and decorations commemorating the 1908 Democratic National Convention.
One of the photos in the exhibit.
Part of a 1965 letter from Mayor Tom Currigan to the superintendent of the Denver Public School, Dr. Kenneth E. Oberholtzer calling his attention to Wellington Webb, who would become Denver's Mayor in 1991.
A few of the marriage records recently moved to the Denver Public Library from the City and County Building to provide greater access and control of the records. These marriage records will be restricted for 75 years to protect privacy.
Postcard celebrating the Democratic National Convention in Denver.
Souvenir program of the 1908 Democratic National Convention showing the back of the Mizpah sign at Denver's Union Station.
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Updated: June 25, 2013