Press Release

History Colorado announces new State Historians Council

DENVER, Colo. (July 16, 2018) ━ Today, History Colorado announced the formation of its first State Historians Council in its 139-year history in Colorado. The State Historians Council will be led by noted historian and author Dr. Tom Noel, who will be joined on the council by respected historians from across the state.

The new council will include Dr. Noel (University of Colorado Denver) as the chair; Dr. Nicki Gonzales (Regis University); Dr. Jared Orsi (Colorado State University); Dr. Duane Vandenbusche (Western State Colorado University); and Dr. William Wei (University of Colorado Boulder).

The State Historians Council will reach across the state to aid in interpretation of the history of Colorado and the West. Through collaboration among historians led by the Council, History Colorado will seek to support citizens of Colorado and visitors to our State by bringing the narratives of the state to the forefront.

Since 1924, History Colorado has appointed a historian to work with the organization to preserve, interpret, and share Colorado’s past. The role of the State Historians Council will be to provide even greater opportunity to expand the understanding of the historical perspectives, cultures, and places of Colorado. Councilmembers of the State Historians Council will work with History Colorado to produce and share scholarship about Colorado and connect with more residents throughout the state.

On Colorado Day, August 1, 2018, these changes will take effect and the new State Historians Council will be introduced to the public. The History Colorado Center celebrates Colorado’s statehood every year with free museum admission, performances, and activities.

Since 2016, Dr. Patty Limerick of the University of Colorado Boulder and the Center of the American West has served as the State Historian. “Dr. Limerick brought great expertise to the role and helped lead the evolution of our exhibition direction,” said Robert Musgraves, chair of the History Colorado board of trustees. “We deeply appreciate Dr. Limerick and her service to the citizens of Colorado.”

About the State Historians


Dr. Thomas J. Noel is a professor of history and the director of Public History, Preservation & Colorado Studies at the University of Colorado Denver.  Known as “Dr. Colorado,” Noel has written numerous books and articles about the state and serves as a tour guide for History Colorado. His courses at CU Denver include regional history (Colorado, Denver, and the U.S. West), historic preservation, heritage tourism, and the National Park Service, and classes on Colorado industries like mining and railroads. He is coauthor of Colorado: A History of the Centennial State. 

Dr. Nicki Gonzales is an associate professor of history at Regis University. Her research interests include the American Southwest, the Chicano Movement in Colorado, Chicano social, political, legal, and environmental activism, and the history of land grant communities. She has served as an advisor for History Colorado’s exhibits El Movimiento: The Chicano Movement in Colorado and Zoom In: The Centennial State in 100 Objects.

Dr. Jared Orsi is a professor of history at Colorado State University and director of the Public Lands History Center. He specializes in environmental and borderlands history, teaching courses on U.S. and Mexican history. His recent book, Citizen Explorer: The Life of Zebulon Pike, was a finalist for the Colorado Book Award for history, and he served as an advisor on History Colorado’s Zoom In exhibit.

Dr. Duane Vandenbusche is professor of history at Western State Colorado University. He has been teaching in Gunnison since 1962. He teaches on the history of the U.S. West, especially water, public lands, and the environment, and his history of Colorado’s Western Slope, A Land Alone, has been the standard text on the region since its publication in 1981.

Dr. William Wei is a professor of history at the University of Colorado Boulder. He is editor-in-chief of the online Colorado Encyclopedia and has held various national and international fellowships. His work focuses primarily on modern China, with research interests in Asian Americans. His latest book, Asians in Colorado: A History of Persecution and Perseverance in the Centennial State, was a finalist for the 2017 Colorado Authors’ League Award for General Non-Fiction. He was a lead advisor on the Zoom In exhibit in 2016-17, and is currently working on a book featuring the 100 objects from Zoom In.

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