The Miles and Bancroft Awards—Who Just Won, and How to Apply

Through the generosity and foresight of two Colorado women, History Colorado recognizes—with an annual awards program—those who’ve significantly advanced Colorado history.

One of those women, Caroline Bancroft, was a colorful figure born into the upper echelon of Colorado society. Granddaughter of the co-founder of what’s now History Colorado, Bancroft authored many popular booklets on the state’s history.

The other, Josephine H. Miles, was the daughter of Colorado pioneers. Proud of her heritage, Miles was an active member of the Territorial Daughters of Colorado and a longtime History Colorado volunteer.

Both women chose to support Colorado history through bequests that established annual cash awards. The Caroline Bancroft History Project Award was initiated in 1987 and the Josephine H. Miles History Award followed in 1998. The awards are differentiated by the communities served, with the Bancroft Award restricted to nominations from communities with fewer than 50,000 residents. Like the women themselves, the winners for 2017 are diverse.

Historic Pueblo, Inc. received the Miles Award for Forging the West, a documentary about the history of Pueblo’s Colorado Fuel & Iron Company—at one time the biggest steel mill in the western United States and the largest employer in Colorado. The film follows the CF&I story from the company’s founding in 1872 by William Jackson Palmer to operations under the current owner, Evraz North America.

Produced by Havey Pro Cinema, the film has been shown on Rocky Mountain PBS. Science and history lesson plans were developed in cooperation with the Steelworks Center of the West, located in the former CF&I Dispensary where the company’s archives are housed. The lesson plans and a DVD were shared with every library and public and private school in Colorado to fill an acknowledged gap in resources about the industrial and labor history of Colorado.


The Aspen Historical Society garnered the Bancroft Award for renovation of the historic building that houses its archives collection. The project allows for more efficient use of space and ensures that industry-best practices for collections care and access are in place. The AHS operates one of the largest public archives of historic materials on the Western Slope. The project’s significance is twofold: It includes the renovation of a historic building with new space for programming and an ADA-accessible restroom, and it encompasses improvements to the collection storage environment, allowing better public access to AHS’s resources for research and use.

Courtesy of the Josephine H. Miles Trust, History Colorado also has resources to acknowledge additional projects through the designation of Honorable Mention awards, which also come with a cash prize. For 2017 there were three designees.

The Pine River Valley Heritage Society in Bayfield is a volunteer-run organization dedicated to preserving the history of the valley. Over the past year, volunteer Anne Schrier completed an ambitious project. A New Beginning: Pine River Valley Pioneer Roots traces the journey of the area’s earliest ranchers and farmers. Anne interviewed dozens of descendants of early settlers, recording and transcribing their stories. She also created a map display that allows visitors to follow the families’ journeys from Europe to the Pine River Valley. One of the stories reveals how Wolf Creek Pass got its name. No four-legged wolves were involved; the pass was named after William Wolf, an unruly wagon train member shot in an argument with the wagon master. Wolf was buried along the pass near the creek that’s borne his name ever since.

The Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum’s The Story of Us is an online platform and interactive mapping project integrating stories with modern GIS mapping technology to help visitors explore Colorado Springs and envision its changes over time. The digital research tool enables access to collection information in a unique geospatial format. The Story of Us is accessible online and in a new museum exhibit of the same name. In the most ambitious project ever undertaken by the museum, the University of Colorado Colorado Springs and Tierra Plan, a local GIS services company, collaborated in making Colorado Springs history accessible in these new and creative ways. 

The La Plata County Historical Society’s Animas Museum World War I project was a year-long tribute to local residents who served in the First World War. Major elements of the project were a special publication highlighting stories from the community and a museum exhibit. The project also featured public programs, a “Knit Your Bit” opportunity to support today’s troops, and program and event refreshments made using period recipes written to conserve sugar and flour, both in short supply during World War I.  

The 2018 Miles and Bancroft Awards Competition is accepting entries through October 1. See the PDFs below for more information and nomination form.