Press Release

History Colorado Announces Two New State Historian's Council Members

DENVER — April 19, 2022 — History Colorado is pleased to announce two new State Historian’s Council members, Dr. Claire Oberon Garcia and Dr. Susan Schulten. Dr. Garcia and Dr. Schulten will support the State Historian’s Council’s role of interpreting the history of Colorado and the West.

"Drs. Garcia and Schulten bring fresh and expansive perspectives to a dynamic State Historian's Council. History Colorado values collaborative scholarship that builds greater understanding of our state's heritage, culture and landscapes. We are thrilled to welcome these two well-regarded scholars,” said Dawn DiPrince, executive director of History Colorado.

Dr. Claire Oberon Garcia is a professor of English at Colorado College. Dr. Garcia’s research focuses on Black history portrayed through literature, including an emphasis on women of the Black Atlantic in the beginning of the twentieth century. She is the co-editor of many notable works, including Uncle Tom’s Cabin and The Help: White Authored Narratives of Black Life, and her work has appeared in The Colorado MagazinePalimpsest: A Journal on Women, Gender, The Black International; The Feminist Wire.; The Ethnic Studies Review and The Chronicle of Higher Education, among others.

As a scholar and teacher, Dr. Garcia is particularly interested in the archives of the marginalized, the silenced and the “expendable” who did not have access to official institutions and dominant power structures. “It is important to bring fresh and challenging perspectives to canonical and institutional narratives that may perpetuate inequities and oppression. There is much to be proud of in Colorado history, but also much to come to terms with as we think about various groups—women, immigrants, members of religious or racial minorities,” Dr. Garcia shared. 

Dr. Susan Schulten is a professor of history at the University of Denver. Dr. Schulten’s research innovatively uses old maps to tell new stories about history. She was named a Fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and received a Public Scholar Fellowship award from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Dr. Schulten has also authored multiple books, including A History of America in 100 Maps, which examines how maps can reveal new angles on our past and Mapping the Nation: History and Cartography in Nineteenth-Century America, that explores how maps transformed American life by organizing information. 

For several years, Dr. Schulten has also served as an editor for History Colorado’s podcast,  Lost Highways. “I see this as an opportunity to amplify the work that other scholars are doing on less well known aspects of our state’s history. Lost Highways has been an education in and of itself, and a lesson in humility, for there is so much more to learn, and serves as a model of widening the scope of history and understanding of the past,” said Dr. Schulten.



What does being a member of the State Historian’s Council mean to you?

“It is a great honor to be invited to support the work of the State Historian’s Council to ensure that the story of Colorado’s past and present is inclusive and presented in all of its rich, multifaceted complexity. I hope that my perspectives as a Black teacher and scholar who has lived in the state for over 39 years will be helpful to further understanding our past and honoring our collective achievements. Colorado has a rich and complex history of many peoples, cultures, and human endeavors.” 

What new ideas and knowledge will you bring? 

“As an English professor who specializes in texts of the past and uses interdisciplinary methods in my teaching and research, I understand the importance of encouraging and developing knowledge of our shared history for people of all ages, especially at this moment in time when we are confronted as a society by profound questions about our collective present and future. Historians ensure that the stories that make up the multifaceted Colorado experience include all of the perspectives and contributions of the people who have shaped the state. A thriving democracy requires the participation of knowledgeable people who understand and respect each other’s past and lived experiences.”

What do you consider to be a significant moment in Colorado’s history and why? 

“The Lincoln Hills resort, which signifies one of many efforts on the part of marginalized, excluded and disrespected Coloradoans to create a space of relaxation, community, and joy as respite from the tensions produced by the pervasive racism of the era.

History is not made up just of chronological “moments” but lived experiences, voices, and presences that may be silenced or invisible from the traditional perspectives of the dominant power structures and institutions. It is important that these lived experiences and the perspectives, values, and ideas that they generate be acknowledged and understood and brought into conversation with the diverse communities that make up Colorado. That is key to the mission of History Colorado and I’m happy to have a small role in this work as a new member of the State Historian’s Council.”



What does being a member of the State Historian’s Council mean to you?

“Joining the State Historian’s Council is an opportunity to continue exploring Colorado and western history with a team of esteemed colleagues from around the state. I’ve been fascinated by the history of this region since I moved here to teach at the University of Denver in 1996. Along the way I’ve developed a particular interest in the way the state was represented through maps, and know that many Coloradans share my love of these materials.”

What new ideas and knowledge will you bring? 

“As a scholar of nineteenth and twentieth century America, I have been able to place the history of this region in a much wider context, showing—for instance—how the creation of the Colorado Territory in 1861 had everything to do with the secession crisis that led to the American Civil War. I’ve also studied the way Colorado and the Great Plains emerged as a region in the larger American culture in the nineteenth century, taking on significance and coherence that it did not have in earlier decades. I have worked with many institutions and individuals around the state—including the late Justice Hobbs—to develop a timeline of Colorado legal history which now occupies a permanent space in the Ralph Carr Judicial Center in downtown Denver.” 

What do you consider to be a significant moment in Colorado’s history and why? 

“While I’m not sure there’s one single most significant moment in the state’s history, it’s fascinating that Colorado Territory was born in the secession crisis. It’s quite common to see western history as a domain of its own, one dominated by mineral rushes, agricultural settlement, and violent conflicts with Native peoples. But it was the future of the West—the character of its settlement—that fueled the struggle over slavery, and I appreciate the efforts to see Colorado and the West as integral to the larger national dynamics of the nineteenth century.”



The State Historian’s Council includes five historians from five different institutions around the state, who each serve a five-year term with annual rotations for the State Historian role. Council members work with History Colorado to produce and share knowledge about Colorado and connect with more residents throughout the state. In keeping with the influential, forward-leaning practices of History Colorado—which is home to the nation’s largest state historical fund for preservation and operates the flagship History Colorado Center that was dubbed “the first great history museum of the 21st century” by Harold Closter of the Smithsonian—the council’s collaborative foundation represents one of America’s most innovative and inclusive approaches to historical leadership at the state level.   

Dr. Nicki Gonzales (Regis University) currently serves as official State Historian through August 2022, and is supported by four additional Council members: Dr. Claire Oberon Garcia (Colorado College); Dr. Jared Orsi (Colorado State University); Dr. Susan Schulten (University of Denver); and Dr. William Wei (University of Colorado, Boulder).   



History Colorado is a division of the Colorado Department of Higher Education and a 501(c)3 non-profit that has served more than 75,000 students and 500,000 people in Colorado each year. It is a 142-year-old institution that operates Colorado’s oldest museum, ten additional museums and historic sites, a free public research center, the Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, and the History Colorado State Historical Fund (SHF), which is the nation’s largest preservation program of its kind. More than 70% of SHF grants are allocated in rural areas of the state.

History Colorado’s mission is to create a better future for Colorado by inspiring wonder in our past. We serve as the state’s memory, preserving and sharing the places, stories, and material culture of Colorado through educational programs, historic preservation grants, collecting, outreach to Colorado communities, the History Colorado Center and Stephen H. Hart Research Center in Denver, and nine other museums and historic attractions statewide. History Colorado is one of only six Smithsonian Affiliates in Colorado. Visit, or call 303-HISTORY, for more information.