In the past year, the staff of Western History & Genealogy and the archives at Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library (collectively known as Special Collections and Digital Archives) published history articles on a wide variety of subjects from saints to Satanism. Some of the stories cheered us, some helped us connect, and some changed our minds, but above all, they made us curious. We hope these stories have made the challenges of 2021 a little easier. In no particular order, here are some of our favorites from the past year.
In the late 19th century, anti-Chinese bigotry led to racist violence, the expulsion of Chinese people from towns, and the destruction of Chinatowns throughout the West. Denver’s anti-Chinese riot of 1880 is no exception, but Librarian Brian adapts research by author Liping Zhu to illuminate the lives of Denver’s Chinese residents before, during, and after the assault.
This year our archives staff took on projects to enhance and highlight diversity in our collections. Archivist Laura’s project centered on the George Washington Carver Day Nursery, digitizing images from the collection and spotlighting the powerful story of this Denver institution, established by the Negro Woman’s Club Association of Denver in 1916.
It turns out that the history of Denver’s trash is hardly rubbish! Jokes aside, Archivist Katie’s chronicle of waste management in the late 19th and early 20th centuries is full of surprising innovations and is far from trashy.
Library Program Assistant Carole brought the life of Julia Greeley to the forefront in this biography. Greeley was a powerful and compassionate figure who moved from a childhood in slavery to risking her life to bring comfort to Denver’s poorest citizens. While not yet fully canonized, Greeley truly earns the title “Servant of God.”
This two-part history takes readers down the long and winding historical path of our city’s response to inadequate housing and homelessness. Librarian Alex shows how long this history has gone on and how city responses have both improved and exacerbated the issues.
As stewards of cultural heritage, we are coming to terms with our own identities and how those intersect with and influence the work that we do. This guest post from Archivist Stevie shows how their identity is deeply intertwined with the work they are doing to digitize some of the most heavily-used collections at Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library.
This one might be a little bit of a cheat (four blogs for the price of one!), but we trust you won’t judge us too harshly once you read them. Genealogy has often been perceived as belonging to only a certain group of people, to be used for a certain set of purposes. Leveraging skills gained through his own family research experiences, Librarian Nicolás developed this series to acknowledge and assist with some of the unique challenges facing Hispanic communities researching their heritage. We look forward to upcoming installments in this series, expected in 2022!
Did your favorite 2021 blog make the list? Let us know in the comments below!