Civil Works Administration researchers began working in the Colorado Historical Society offices in 1933. By 1934 State Relief Administration workers continued research work begun by CWA staff. In 1935, the CWA was replaced by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) which continued at the Society until 1941. The research projects undertaken by these programs are valuable society resources still in use today. They include:
CWA Reference Files
This is a three section card index to newspaper articles, magazine and journal articles, and reference books covering Colorado subjects, biography of prominent Colorado individuals, and geography. The file was begun by CWA workers and has been added to by subsequent indexers. It is not a complete index to newspapers. The Biography file is organized by last name. The Place Name file has references for towns, ghost towns, and mining camps, as well as specific buildings, businesses, organizations, industries, neighborhoods, streets, etc., within towns. Natural features such as mountains, rivers, glaciers, passes, and wilderness areas are also found in the Place Name file. The Subject file is organized by topic or subject heading.
CWA Birth, Marriage, and Death Index
Dates covered are 1860-1941. Small, incomplete card file cites newspaper announcements of births, deaths, and marriages.
These interviews were conducted in 1933-1934 and cover a wide variety of subjects on Colorado history. The interviewees were people who had lived in selected areas of the state over a long period of time and could provide insight into life in Colorado from a personal point of view.
The Federal Writers’ Project conducted research in Colorado to produce the Colorado volume of the State Guide Series, Colorado: A Guide to the Highest State. Ghost Towns of Colorado, also part of the American Guide Series, though not published until 1947, resulted from research compiled by the Writer's Project. We have Writers’ Project reports and research files covering the whole range of life in Colorado. Subjects include a bibliography of books about Colorado, Utilities, Music and Art, Agriculture, City Guides, Fauna, and Ethnic Groups, among others. A series of reports called the "Thousand Towns" gives the history of 1,000 towns in Colorado that existed at the time of the project. The Writer's Project was active in Colorado between 1936 and1941. These typescript reports are cataloged on the online catalog. Search by author for Writers Program for best results.
A WPA project copied historic and fragile photographs. Prints from these copy negatives are dispersed throughout the Photography Subject Collection. WPA photographers also photographed the historic downtown Denver area. These photographs are in the Photography Subject Collection under the heading "C-Denver-1937 WPA," followed by the street name.
The staff and funding provided by these Depression era programs allowed Colorado Historical Society officers to travel throughout the state gathering documents, information, and artifacts relating to Colorado history. Many donations of historical materials were made as a result of their efforts. Officials of Denver and of Colorado 1858-1933 was compiled as part of CWA Project No. 107 and No. 550 under the direction of Denver City Clerk Ben Draper in 1934. The clerical work for The Real Pioneers of Colorado by Maria McGrath was done by CWA Project 551. Letters were sent to postmasters throughout the state requesting information on the origin of place names.
Contact the Library
Stephen H. Hart Library and Research Center
History Colorado Center
Denver, CO 80203