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Western History/Genealogy Newsletter

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September 2008

Welcome to The Denver Public Library's Western History/Genealogy News. This page is updated monthly and includes:



1908-When the Democrats First Came to Denver

August 6 - October 31, 2008
The Central Library, Vida Ellison Gallery - Level 7

This special 1908 Democratic National Convention joint exhibit is presented by the Denver Public Library and the Colorado Historical Society. The exhibit is curated by Myron H. Vallier, of the Denver Public Library Western History/Genealogy Department and Judy Steiner, Associate Curator, Photography and Films, at the Colorado Historical Society. Nearly 100 scanned photographs, newspapers, maps, etc. and memorabilia from the Denver Public Library Western History Manuscript Collection, the Colorado Historical Society, and the Auraria Casa Mayan Heritage will be on display.
View the online exhibit here.

Archives Collection

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.

New Archives Finding Aids

City and County of Denver Clerk and Recorder: Marriage Records

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.

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Hidden Treasures

Rogers Mortuary Collection Death Index WH1501

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.

Thomas G. Currigan Papers WH929

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.

Eleanor Haack Papers TMD183

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.

Archives Donations

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.

Western History Donations
  • Archuleta, Lena – donated one folder of papers
  • Black, Helen Marie – three boxes of her professional records on the Denver Symphony along with personal papers donated by Dolores Plested
  • Campa, Arthur and Lucile – one box of personal papers and business records donated by Arthur Campa, Jr.
  • City and County of Denver, Clerk and Recorder Office – transferred Marriage License and Certificates, and Marriage Applications, 2168 volumes, 64 boxes, one oversize box
  • Colorado Library Consortium – donated one box of the organizational records
  • Colorado Military Training Proposal – a report for a proposed training center donated by Jared Ruge
  • Frontier Airlines – three scrapbooks and newsletters on the first airline and its employees donated by Ken Schultz
  • Noel, Tom – donated a partial box of his personal papers
  • Smith, Morgan – donated one box of his legislative records
  • Torres, Alberto – donated one box of his papers on Latino Faculty and Staff Association at Metropolitan State College and National Hispanic Grassroots Training Leadership Conference

Conservation Collection Donations

  • The Nature Conservancy – donated five boxes of organizational records
  • Pitcaithley, Dwight – donated five boxes of his professional papers documenting his work with the National Park Service

10th Mountain Division Donations

  • Duffy, John – donated photographs from the IFMS Congress, in Poland
  • 10th Mountain Division – one folder of personal correspondence donated by Doug Horth

Photograph Collection Donations

  • Cramer, George and Mae – one box of photographs donated by the Jefferson County Library
  • Eichler, George – two boxes of family photographs donated by the Jefferson County Library

Mystery Photograph

We invite our readers to e-mail answers to these questions about the unidentified photograph:

  • Who is it?
  • When was the picture taken?
  • Where was it taken?
  • Supplemental information?

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.

Mystery Photograph

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.

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Information for Donors

Donate Your Analog Television Sets

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 ezazzar@denverlibrary.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.

Donate Historic Materials

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:

  • Colorado legislators and political figures
  • Ethnic groups, such as the Hispanic and Japanese American communities
  • Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender communities
  • Sports history and industry
  • Cultural and non-profit organizations
  • Native Americans
  • Notable historical families or individuals
  • Societies, clubs, and organizations


If you are interested in donating materials to the Library, please contact Erin Edwards, Acquisitions Specialist, 720-865-1810, eedwards@denverlibrary.org or check here for donation guidelines.


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.

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New Books in Western History Collection

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.

  • Alexandra Fuller's The Legend of Colton H. Bryant (Penguin Press, 2008) examines its namesake's all-too-brief life as a roughneck in contemporary Wyoming's oil fields. London-born, Rhodesia-raised, and a resident of Wyoming since 1994, Fuller is an accomplished memoirist, and her Legend has been widely discussed in contemporary book pages, including reviews in The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times. Collectively, reviews of Legend are a study in contrasts, with some reviewers full of praise for an artistic rendering of a humble life, and others concerned with the veracity and value of a work where such license has been so evidently exercised. For a reading by Fuller, which took place at Washington's Politics and Prose bookstore, turn to this edition of the National Public Radio (NPR) web feature and podcast, Book Tour. Circulating copies of The Legend of Colton H. Bryant are available at DPL's Central and branch libraries.
  • Richard A. Minnich's California's Fading Wildflowers: Lost Legacy and Biological Invasions (University of California Press, 2008) examines the changing nature of the Golden State's flowering plant populations. More than a botanical study of contemporary California, Minnich uses a wide variety of sources to describe the remarkable history of California's wildflowers, whether native species or invasive newcomers. The result is a detailed examination of a too-often neglected dimension of the ecological encounter between the so-called Old and New worlds. This is an exceptional environmental and natural history.
  • One Step Over the Line: Toward a History of Women in the North American Wests (University of Alberta Press, 2008) is a new collection of historical essays edited by Elizabeth Jameson and Sheila McManus. One Step examines the history of women in the Canadian and American West, going beyond the confines of each country's respective national history to present a truly comparative and transnational history of Western women. In a historical literature now acutely aware of borderlands, and especially the U.S.-Mexico boundary, this is a refreshing reminder of the northern border and its place in the study of women and the West.
  • Colin Gordon's Mapping Decline: St. Louis and the Fate of the American City (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008) examines the urban history of contemporary St. Louis, and, in particular, the collapse of the city's core and the paradoxical consequences of repeated urban renewal efforts. Replete with maps and other illustrations, Gordon's provocative study combines archival research with the latest mapping and geographic information system (GIS) techniques to provide a poignant portrait of a ravaged - and as yet to revive - American city.
  • Shannon Novak's House of Mourning: A Biocultural History of the Mountain Meadows Massacre (University of Utah Press, 2008) brings historical research together with physical and forensic anthropology to present an intimate portrait of the 120 men, women, and children executed in a Utah desert valley by members of a local Mormon militia. Novak brings skills honed in previous examinations of Virginia cemeteries, medieval English battlefields, and the mass graves of contemporary Croatia to the recently recovered remains of Mountain Meadows Massacre site. The result is a new dimension to Mountain Meadows literature, and profound insights into the nature of the victims and the fate they met on September 11, 1857.
  • And, finally, Paitarkiutenka= My Legacy to You (University of Washington Press: In Association with Calista Elders Council and Anchorage Museum Association, c2008) recounts the life and experiences of Frank Andrew, Sr., also known as Miisaq. Translated from the Yup'ik by Alice Reardon, Paitarkiutenka is a richly illustrated bilingual text, one worth examining both as an account of life in the Arctic and as an exemplary object of collaborative cultural study. Enjoy Paitarkiutenka along with its exquisite companion publication, The Way We Genuinely Live = Yuungnaqpiallerput: Masterworks of Yup'ik Science and Survival (University of Washington Press : In Association with Calista Elders Council and Anchorage Museum Association, c2007).

Genealogy News

  • Monthly Beginning Genealogy classes resume Saturday, September 13, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Gates Western History Reading Room - Level 5 of the Central Library. These classes are free and held on the second Saturday of each month with no reservation required.
  • The Colorado Genealogical Society resumes after a summer hiatus on Friday, September 19 at 6:30 p.m. at Christ the King Lutheran Church, 2300 S. Patton Ct., Denver. A program presented by DPL Senior Special Collection Librarian Wendel Cox will welcome folks to the Wild, Wild West -- the Western History Collection, that is. He'll encourage researchers to cross the frontier from Genealogy to Western History. An Ice Cream Social at 6:30 p.m. will precede the meeting at Christ the King Lutheran Church, 2300 S. Patton Ct., Denver.


Denver Public Library Genealogical News and Events Calendar

Colorado Genealogical Society Classes and Events

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Previous Newsletters

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

slide show View Slide Show

When the Democrats First Came to Denver

"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

Local committee badge on display at the Denver Public Library as part of the exhibition commemorating the 1908 Democratic National Convention.

Photographs and decorations

Photographs and decorations commemorating the 1908 Democratic National Convention.

One of the photos in the exhibit

One of the photos in the exhibit.

Part of a 1965 letter from Mayor Tom Currigan

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

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

Postcard celebrating the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

Souvenir program of the 1908 Democratic National Convention

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