At the History Colorado Center, we’re always on the lookout for innovative ways to showcase our collections and incorporate history highlights into our public spaces beyond the exhibit galleries. One great example is our “100 Years Ago Today in Colorado” newspaper feature in the entrance hall. Our fantastic Design & Production team initiated that project last summer. The concept is pretty simple: every day, we display reproductions of the front pages of daily Colorado newspapers from 100 years ago. We currently feature The Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News, Pueblo Chieftain and Grand Junction Daily Sentinel.
Just a quick glimpse at each paper’s front page immerses you in the world of 1915 Colorado, with perspectives from different areas of the state. In the past year, the 100-year-old headlines have covered the Mexican Revolution, the outbreak of World War I in Europe, the death of Pope Pius X, Colorado mining news in the aftermath of the Ludlow Massacre, the sinking of the Lusitania and local news on agriculture, industry, politics and society. The papers provide great opportunities for discussion, particularly for visitors from Denver, Pueblo and Grand Junction, who still see the daily edition of the Post, Chieftain or Sentinel on their front porch or online each morning.
The process of creating these daily reproductions begins in our Stephen H. Hart Library & Research Center, the access point for History Colorado’s archival and artifact collections. Our holdings include the largest collection of historic Colorado newspapers available anywhere. For the daily 100 Years newspapers, our librarians begin by making scans of the front pages of each paper from our microfilmed holdings. Our Design & Production team then creates print reproductions for display, and our Guest Services team ensures that the daily displays are updated.
This feature is a work in progress, and we continue to learn as we go. At first, we’d hoped to feature a newspaper from the Eastern Plains, but we soon discovered that in the early 20th century most of the major towns on the Plains only had weekly papers, not dailies. Some of our newspaper holdings are incomplete, so we tried to select papers without large gaps in our holdings. And, some towns’ newspaper history doesn’t stretch back 100 years yet. Moving forward, our Exhibits staff is exploring strategies for incorporating more diverse Colorado locations and time periods, so stop by often to check out what we’ve got on display – it changes every day!