Newspapers have always been an important collecting and preservation initiative at History Colorado, in no small part due to the fact that two Denver newspapermen helped establish the Colorado Historical Society (now History Colorado) in 1879. Will Ferrill, the publisher of the Daily Colorado Republican and Rocky Mountain Herald, was the society’s first curator. William N. Byers, the founder of the venerable Rocky Mountain News, was one of the society’s first directors.
Preserving the Past for the Future
In the 1980s the society was awarded an NEH US Newspaper Project grant to microfilm 1.7 million pages from historic Colorado newspapers resulting in 830 reels, preserving 600 titles from over 200 towns in Colorado, found in 77 different repositories throughout the state.
The Colorado Newspaper Project reached across the state overcoming the urban/rural and mountain/plains dichotomy. The committed staff worked in barns and basements, abandoned missile silos, and brand new libraries…they read an estimated 577 miles of microfilm. And they regularly made personal connections with the interesting and astounding face of local history…reading the rigors of settlement life in the mountains and the tragedies of dryland farming… Newspaper preservation […] is—at heart—the preservation of the stories of ordinary people.
To date, History Colorado holds and serves over 22,000 reels of microfilm (and counting). It is the most extensive collection of Colorado newspapers in the world with more than 1700 microfilmed titles from across the state. We continue to collect and film newspapers from each of Colorado’s 64 counties—81 titles in all. It is an extraordinary contemporary collecting program that highlights Colorado’s social, racial, economic and political, and religious diversity.
Since 2016, History Colorado has been digitizing historic Colorado newspapers through a National Digital Newspaper Program grant funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Over 100,000 pages of Colorado newspapers (with more on the way) have been digitized and are available on the Library of Congress’ Chronicling America database. In this project we have endeavored to continue the work of the original US Newspaper Program and represent diverse communities through their newspapers and their stories.
On Chronicling America, you’ll discover:
- Publications from agricultural communities along the Western Slope and the Eastern Plains homesteader settlements
- Papers from mining towns that saw gold and silver booms and turned ghost towns when the riches gave out
- Accounts of labor disputes and unrest during the Colorado Coalfield War
- African-American papers chronicling the experience of people of color in the Rocky Mountain West
- Newspapers documenting Denver’s vibrant Jewish community
- Coverage of the the women’s suffrage movement, socialism, and unions and company towns built by the behemoth Colorado Fuel and Iron Company in central Colorado
- Spanish-language papers from southern Colorado that represent Colorado’s rich Mexican and Hispano heritage
History Colorado also works closely with the Colorado State Library, providing access to titles in our microfilm collection for digitization in the Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection. History Colorado regularly contributes digitized content to CHNC as well, increasing the reach and access to Colorado stories to folks across the state, the country, and the world. CHNC currently includes more than 1.7 million digitized pages, representing more than 400 individual newspaper titles published in Colorado from 1859 up to 2019.
Explore the Newspaper Collection
Titles in the History Colorado Newspaper Collection can be found in the Research Center Catalog. Most of the titles, including the earliest runs of the Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Post, as well as current issues from titles from across the state have been microfilmed and are available for viewing at the Stephen H. Hart Research Center. The Newspaper Collection at History Colorado--preserving history as it happened and history in the making.
Colorado's Reel History
Catch up on yesterday’s news today in this blog series showcasing some of the many historic newspapers in our collection.
Extra! Extra! Get Your Copies Here!
History Colorado’s collection of historic and current newspapers are available for reproduction. Duplicate reels, created from master negatives, maybe requested for individual research or library use. More information about this service, including establishing standing orders for currently collected titles, can be found here.