Does the stress of holiday shopping make you long for a stroll through an early 20th-century department store?
Teenager Helen Elizabeth Thompson wrote about her visit to Denver’s legendary Daniels & Fisher Department Store in an English class composition dated March 12, 1917. Helen Elizabeth's mother, Lucy May “Jessie” Thompson (1867-1941), worked as a seamstress at the store for more than 20 years. Helen Elizabeth's composition is part of the Jessie Thompson Papers (WH1870).
Wrote Helen Elizabeth:
I had the pleasure of going through one of our most complete dry goods stores in our city Saturday. The main building is six stories high, with a tower of twenty-three stories. It is of white brick. It has a wonderful clock that may be seen from quite a distance.
On the fifteenth, there is a school room. The pupils are girls employed by this store. They are promoted according to their ability. The school is in session from nine to twelve. Miss Vernard is their teacher. The pupils are taught as in other schools but they also learn the art of becoming good sales ladies.
Next we reached the tower. This is where one may look over the city and the surrounding country and see the Arapaho Peaks fifty miles to the north and Pikes Peak seventy-five miles south. Tourists are frequent visitors to this tower and it is there that souvenirs are sold.
The Jessie Thompson Papers (WH1870) contain many unique items, including an autograph book dated 1881 (with lovely examples of cursive penmanship and painted illustrations), fragile volumes of Godey’s Lady’s Book from the 1860s, and a run of correspondence between Jessie Thompson and her nephew, Jesse R. Link (1896-1964), when Link was stationed at Camp Lewis (Washington) and Camp Travis (Texas) during World War I.
More photographs of the Daniels & Fisher Department Store can be found in a Daniels & Fisher gallery and in the DPL Digital Collections. In addition to the Jessie Thompson Papers, DPL’s Western History and Genealogy Department is pleased to house the Daniels & Fisher Records (WH12).