History Colorado's incomparable collections—from books and manuscripts to artifacts and photographs—encapsulate the rich history of this state and help us understand the present in the context of the past.
You can extend the life of your family’s papers, photographs, and heirlooms by following basic guidelines for care and storage. Here are some sources for more information on how to care for your collections.
History Colorado recently acquired the historical archive of the Colorado Dude and Guest Ranch Association (CDGRA) dating from 1933 through 2018. Formed in 1933, the association is a membership organization serving as a vital marketing resource, and, more importantly, as a system of self-regulation ensuring that Colorado dude and guest ranches are held to high standards.
History Colorado has been collecting, preserving, and interpreting our state’s history for 140 years. Our first collections were stored in a rented room at the Glenarm Hotel—the building that served as the state capitol in 1879. Obviously, we’ve outgrown the Glenarm and three other locations since that time. We now manage more than 15 million photographs, documents, and artifacts. Considering the number of moves we’ve made, the number of sites and storage facilities statewide that we maintain, and the evolution of the documentation and tracking process—from cursive ledger book entries to typewritten catalog cards to computer database records—it is not surprising that an occasional artifact (or a box of them) has been separated from its provenance.
For many years, museum organizations like History Colorado have taken responsibility for holding artifacts in the public trust. Though the objects originate at various points in history, institutions such as ours hold them in trust for the people and places from which they came.
However, sometimes objects fall outside of our mission and have little Colorado significance or storytelling value. The process of reviewing and removing items from our collection is known as deaccessioning. A healthy and necessary practice, deaccessioning allows museums to better care for the collections that have stories to tell, to reduce duplicate items, and to better maintain safe environments for the collections that remain.
Since 2016, the Colorado Digital Newspaper Project (CDNP) has been digitizing historic newspapers from counties all across the state thanks to a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).
This weekend marks the 145th reprise of The Greatest Two Minutes in Sports. Many of us will watch thoroughbreds earn their costly pedigree at the Kentucky Derby. While we celebrate these purebred horses for their agility and speed, horses in Colorado were largely obtained from wild herds of mustangs that were caught and domesticated. Wild horses and cowboys have long represented Colorado and the rest of the American West on the covers of western pulp books and magazines and in the minds of people all over the world. Historically, horses in the West have had more practical purposes than the status symbols that run at the Kentucky Derby.
Coloradans love our local beer. The first locally brewed keg was tapped in Denver to rave reviews from residents at the end of 1859. Today more than 360 breweries throughout the state—encompassing both the world’s largest beermaking plant and the smallest nano-operations—pour locally made libations for appreciative patrons. In every corner of this rectangular patch of mountains and plains, liquid artisans are crafting an array of exceptional beverages that pair well with the joys of living here. An intrepid (and thirsty!) aficionado could watch the Colorado sunset with a different locally made beer in hand every evening for nearly a decade without repeating.
Our Colorado’s Reel History blog series showcases some of the many newspapers in our collection. Check out some clippings from the Rocky Ford Enterprise below, then read on for a short history of the paper.
January marked the fifth anniversary of the legal commercial sale of recreational marijuana in Colorado. Passed by ballot initiative on November 6, 2012, Amendment 64 legalized the private consumption of marijuana in Colorado and it was officially added to the state’s constitution on December 10, 2012. That same day Governor John Hickenlooper signed an executive order calling for a task force to resolve any legal and policy concerns. As a result of Hickenlooper’s order the first marijuana stores didn’t open until January 1, 2014, when the Colorado Retail Marijuana Code was enacted.
History Colorado has been actively acquiring objects and seeking donations related to the legalization of cannabis in the state as part of a contemporary collecting initiative to document and preserve this historic event for future Coloradans. Items collected so far range from water pipes to western wear to documentary films.