Colorado Historic Newspapers

Topics in History: Five Points: The Heart and Soul of Denver

Old Five Points Neighborhood (Photo Courtesy of Denver Public Library)

In recent decades, the city of Denver has undergone a drastic transformation both aesthetically and demographically. As young professionals flock back to the city’s center, neighborhoods that have existed as cultural centers for many of Denver’s deep-rooted and diverse communities are undergoing dramatic changes. One of the most significant of these cultural epicenters is Denver’s Five Points neighborhood. Designated from its earliest years as a space apart for Denver’s black residents, Five Points not only survived a time of extreme, institutionalized racial oppression in Colorado, but thrived and grew to become one of the most culturally rich destinations in the country, earning it the nickname, “the Harlem of the West.”

Denver NAACP Meeting (Photo Courtesy of Denver Public Library)

Five Points initially took shape during Denver’s period of rapid growth in the 1870’s due to the silver boom. The neighborhood took its name from the five vertices created at the intersection of Washington Street, 27th Street, 26th Ave, and Welton Street. The introduction of Denver’s first street railroad connected the Five Points neighborhood to its city center and brought a wide variety of residents from varying economic and racial backgrounds to the area.  However, when more modern and fashionable dwellings began to populate the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Denver, many of its wealthier, white residents moved out of the area. Due to the extreme racial oppression of the time, Denver’s black residents were not afforded the same mobility, and by the 1920’s, ninety percent of Denver black population lived within the Five Points – Whittier neighborhood.

The Rossonian Hotel (Photo Courtesy of Denver Public Library)

That decade saw Five Points grow and flourish as a social, cultural, and political center for Denver’s black community. The Glenarm branch of the YMCA was built in 1924 and acted as the unofficial Town Hall of Five Points. Denver’s branch of the NAACP was established and hosted its first national meeting in 1925 to address the racial hostility and inequity perpetuated by the KKK’s firm hold on the Denver politics and society. In 1927, a group of black students successfully sued the Superintendent of Public Instruction of Denver for the unconstitutional separation of social functions for students based on race. Five points had now established itself as a political center for the advancement of equality as more and more of its residents began to own property and establish businesses.

The Lounge at the Rossonian Hotel (Photo Courtesy of Denver Public Library)

The 1930’s, 40’s, and 50’s gave way to perhaps the greatest cultural boom in Five Points as the Jazz and Blues movement took root in the area. While Denver’s downtown hotspots invited popular musicians such as Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie, Miles Davis, and Nat King Cole to perform, they were not permitted to stay in the white-only hotels in those neighborhoods. Thus, Five Points played host to these artists who also performed in the neighborhood’s many jazz and blues clubs. The lounge at the now Historic Rossonian Hotel (originally the Baxter Hotel) was one of Five Points’ most iconic locales and was considered the best jazz club between Kansas City and LA. At the height of the jazz era, Five Points had become a destination where black and white visitors were welcomed together, despite the racial tension and segregation that still plagued the rest of the city.

Historic Five Points Neighborhood (Photo from

As the 1960’s saw the decline of discriminatory housing practices and legal segregation in the city, the residents of Five Points dispersed to other neighborhoods and suburbs. By the 1970’s Five Points fell victim to economic strife, crime, and drugs. However, the community that had once thrived in Five Points refused to disappear, and in the late 1980’s and 1990’s there came a dramatic push to preserve and restore the area’s landmarks. In 1988, Paul W. Stewart opened the Black American West Museum to the public in the former home of Dr. Justina Ford, Denver’s first black woman doctor. In 1995, the Rossonian Hotel was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has since undergone massive restoration with the help of former NBA star, Chauncey Billups, who is a partner in the project. In 2002, the Welton Street commercial corridor was listed as a Denver historic cultural district and in 2003, the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library opened on Welton Street in order to serve the neighborhood and preserve its rich history.

Juneteenth Celebration Bilboard (Photo Courtesy of Denver Public Library)

Five Points has even more recently become one of Denver’s most desirable neighborhoods, with home prices rising far above the median for the city. While this new influx of residents and businesses to the area has assured its survival and revitalization, the drastically inflated cost of living has driven out many of the same residents who fought for its preservation. Though Five Points now hosts its annual Jazz Fest and Juneteenth festival, drawing thousands of visitors to the area to celebrate its cultural heritage, it was Denver’s strong, black community that made the neighborhood a haven, a hotspot, and a home for decades in the face of oppression.


This post is brought to you by the Colorado State Library and Denver Public Libraries

Colorado State Publications Blog

Starting a Charter School

This is the time of year when those interested in establishing a new charter school need to begin the application process. Charter school establishment is overseen by the Colorado Department of Education’s Charter School Institute (CSI). They require a letter of intent to be filed by March 1, and the completed application is due March 28. For application materials and a full list of important dates, see the CSI website. Also be sure to view the Colorado Department of Education’s online Charter Schools Guidebook and Colorado Charter Schools webpage for important information.

Our library has many resources that can help guide you in the process of establishing a new school, or simply to help you understand how charter schools operate in Colorado. See the following resources for information:

Colorado State Publications Blog

New Report on Youth Suicide Prevention

The Colorado Attorney General’s Office just released a new report, Community Conversations to Inform Youth Suicide Prevention: A Study of Youth Suicide in Four Colorado Counties, which is now available to view online from our library. The report examines the growing rates of youth suicide in El Paso, La Plata, Mesa, and Pueblo counties, which have the state’s highest rates of teen suicide. In El Paso County alone, the number of suicide deaths in the 10-18 age group doubled from 2014 to 2017, according to the report, which analyzed statistical data as well as information from focus groups, interviews, and community feedback. Statistical data analysis was conducted from “death certificate, hospitalization and emergency department data, the Colorado Violent Death Reporting System, the Colorado Child Fatality Prevention System and the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey.” The latter three programs are all sponsored by the Colorado Dept. of Public Health and Environment, whose website includes data as well as resources on prevention.

You can also find more information on youth suicide in these other resources from our library:

Colorado's Beginnings

“Father” John Lewis Dyer: The Snowshoe Itinerant

Portrait: John Lewis Dyer (Photo from Colorado Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame)

When: 1812-1901

Where: Central Colorado Mountains

Why important: Beloved circuit-riding Methodist preacher


John Lewis Dyer was born in Franklin County, Ohio in 1812, but spent most of his early years in Illinois. He received little formal education and, after his marriage to Harriet Foster in 1833, Dyer moved his young family to Wisconsin in order to work in the lead mines. Unfortunately, Harriet died when she was only 35, leaving Dyer with their five children. After their infant daughter (also named Harriet) died very shortly after, Dyer decided to become a Methodist minister. He became a circuit rider, meaning that he traveled from town to town as his services were needed for weddings, funerals, and sermons.

Stained Glass Image of John Dyer in Father Dyer United Methodist Church (Photo from

Dyer’s circuit covered a very large area across both Wisconsin and Minnesota and often meant he had to travel in harsh winter weather through very deep snows. Fortunately, Norwegian immigrants in Minnesota taught Dyer how to make skis that allowed him to travel more easily and navigate the wintery terrain. In 1861, after a decade of circuit riding in Minnesota and Wisconsin, Dyer left his younger children with his sister and headed to Colorado to join his son, Elias, who had moved to Denver shortly before. Wishing to see the mountains, Dyer started a preaching circuit through Colorado’s many mountain mining towns. He was able to use his snowshoeing and skiing experience to travel from town to town on foot, a task that had proven too difficult for many younger preachers.

Cover of John Dyer’s Autobiography: The Snowshoe Itinerant (Photo from

However, Dyer faced a different challenge in the Colorado mining towns. The rough-and-tumble residents spent a great deal of their time drinking and gambling in saloons. Dyer saw this as a sign that his preaching was needed more than ever. He set up churches in many towns, including one in Breckenridge that still functions today: Father Dyer United Methodist Church. Dyer understood the hard lives of the miners because he had once worked in the mines. Also, Dyer’s life as a minister was far from easy. In fact, he made so little money on his circuit that he started carrying mail when he traveled over Mosquito Pass in order to make extra money. During these hard travels, Dyer became very well-known and was affectionately called “Father Dyer” even though Methodist ministers were not referred to as “Fathers.”

Stained Glass Portrait from Colorado State Capitol (Photo from Park County Histories)

In 1870, “Father” Dyer married Lucinda Rankin, a widow who lived near Castle Rock. Lucinda joined Dyer and took up residence in Summit County for fifteen years until Dyer could no longer travel on his circuit. At the age of 73, Father Dyer and Lucinda moved to Denver where he wrote and published his autobiography, The Snow-Shoe Itinerant. Father Dyer died in 1901 at the age of 89, but his legacy remains in Colorado. His stained glass portrait hangs in the State Capitol, Father Dyer Peak in the Tenmile Range is named for him, and he was one of the first inductees into the Colorado Ski & Snowboarding Museum Hall of Fame in 1977.

This bio is brought to you by the Colorado State Library

Colorado State Publications Blog Lifelong Literacy

Family Literacy Resources

Winter break is a great time to read with your kids! Learning doesn’t just happen at school; it happens at home, too. The Colorado Department of Education defines family literacy as the following:

Family Literacy

Integrates all the following activities:

  • Parent or family adult education and literacy activities that lead to readiness for postsecondary education or training, career advancement and economic self-sufficiency;
  • Interactive literacy activities between parents or family members and their children;
  • Training for parents or family members on how to be the primary teacher for their children and full partners in the education of their children; AND
  • An age appropriate education to prepare children for success in school and life experiences.

If you’re looking for ways to be more involved in your child’s education, here are some helpful resources available from our library:

To learn about the State of Colorado’s family literacy programs, see the following:


Colorado State Publications Blog

Time Machine Tuesday: Penmanship Lessons

Many schools are no longer prioritizing the teaching of cursive penmanship. Yet a century ago, it was a different story. In the days before computers – when even typewriters were something that not everybody had access to – handwriting was of vital importance. The 1912 Course of Study for the Public Schools of Colorado demonstrates the importance of the teaching of penmanship during that era.

The Course of Study book, an early-twentieth-century version of public school academic standards, outlined what was expected to be taught in Colorado’s public schools. The 1912 book devoted several pages to the instruction of penmanship: the ideal positioning for the paper, hand, arm, and whole body; which muscles of the hand and arm should move; the different letter forms; and exactly which materials to employ (“Use pens. Discourage the use of pencils in any writing, and do not permit pupils to use fountain pens of any make. Medium-pointed pens are the best for teaching a free, elastic movement.”) Seventy-four different handwriting exercises were also provided, for teachers to use with their students. The exercises included instructions on how each letter should be made (e.g., Exercise 22 for little o, “Close the top and finish with a retraced compound curve”) and sometimes included instructions on how quickly the characters should be written (students studying capital N should repeat forty-five in one minute).

To see more Course of Study books, visit our library’s Digital Repository.

The 1912 Course of Study book included penmanship examples along with exercises and tips on how to position the hand and body.
Colorado State Publications Blog

Identifying Students with Learning Disabilities

One of the most frequently-accessed publications in our library is the Colorado Department of Education’s Guidelines for Identifying Students with Specific Learning Disabilities. This publication helps teachers and parents understand the processes of identification and how they work with state and federal laws. The guidebook discusses an approach that “provides interventions as part of a problem-solving process at the earliest indication of need.” Information on how special education and general education can collaborate is included in the guidelines. Referral and evaluation, response to intervention (RtI), and areas of specific disability — such as oral, written, listening comprehension, reading, or mathematical — are also discussed. This is an essential resource for Colorado educators, administrators, and anyone working with schoolchildren with disabilities.

Colorado State Publications Blog

The Colorado READ Act

The Colorado READ Act (Reading to Ensure Academic Development Act) is a law passed by the State Legislature in 2012 (House Bill 12-1238). “The READ Act creates a system to identify students experiencing challenges with reading, to engage parents in the development of reading improvement plans and to provide quality support for those most at risk,” according to the Colorado Department of Education (CDE). As an early literacy program, the READ Act is intended to help struggling readers in the primary grades.

As back-to-school time nears, parents may have questions about the program and how it may benefit their child. CDE has set up a helpful Information for Parents webpage. Here parents can find videos and fact sheets about the program, as well as ideas on promoting early literacy at home. 

Educators and others can learn more about the READ Act on the program’s website. You can also access the program’s annual legislative reports from our library. Finally, see this Issue Brief from the Colorado Legislative Council for legislative information on the READ Act.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Video Resources from the Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind

The Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind (CSDB) not only provides services to students enrolled at the school, but also provides “outreach programs [that] serve students, staff, and families in communities throughout Colorado.” One of the ways CSDB reaches out to the community is through the many video resources they offer. Some of these provide helpful information for teachers of deaf and/or blind students. Others help the community understand these disabilities and how students are overcoming them and thriving.

On the CSDB website, you can find links to these videos. An introductory video about CSDB includes an audio-described version. CSDB has also produced a number of videos on American Sign Language. These include quick videos that anyone can use to learn sign language, and are also useful to sign language instructors. One of the highlights is their “Signs of the Month” series of short videos that teach a few sign words to go with the month or season. For example, in the June video you can learn about signs for flowers and gardening.

CSDB also broadcasts community segments on cable TV. To learn more about these segments or to view them online, click here. Finally, to view all of CSDB’s videos, including webinars, instructional tools, a series of “role model” interviews, technology information, provider information, employability resources, and “Voices of CSDB” interviews, visit the CSDB YouTube channel.

To learn more about CSDB, view their annual reports available online from our library.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Dual and Concurrent Enrollment

The Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE) recently released its annual report on concurrent enrollment for the 2016-17 academic year.  The report shows that nearly a third of 11th and 12th graders participate in dual/concurrent enrollment programs, which allow them to earn college credit while still in high school, with the courses also counting towards their high school graduation.  (For an explanation of the differences between concurrent, dual, and ASCENT enrollment, see this fact sheet.)  Credits earned are generally transferable.

You can find the annual reports back to 2010 on our library’s website.  Visit the CDHE site for more information about dual/concurrent enrollment in Colorado. You can also find information about concurrent enrollment from the college or university of your choice:

Colorado State Publications Blog

Time Machine Tuesday: Teaching In Colorado

Today is National Teacher Appreciation Day, a day for thanking the educators who made differences in our lives and for appreciating the hard work they put into it!  With new technologies and other cultural changes, teaching is quite different today from what it was a century ago.  Yet one thing hasn’t changed…teachers’ dedication and desire to see their students succeed.

For a fascinating insight into the teaching profession a century ago, take a look at the Colorado State Course of Study in Education handbooks, which have been digitized by our library.  These handbooks were issued by the state Superintendent of Public Instruction (today’s Department of Education) and given to all school districts in the state.  They include tips for teachers about ethics, professional growth, community relations, etc., but their main content is the grade-level curricula.  Here is outlined in detail exactly what lessons were suggested to be taught in each subject at each grade level, from kindergarten through high school.  It is quite fascinating to see what the students were learning and at what age — some of it may surprise you.  Comparing the books also gives an interesting look at how the profession, and curriculum, changed over time.  We have Course of Study books available digitally for the following years:

Check our library’s online catalog for other resources on Colorado teachers and school curricula through the years.

Finally, for a historical look at some of Colorado’s best teachers, view the Colorado Department of Education’s list of Colorado Teachers of the Year from 1963 to the present.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Open Educational Resources

Good news for students and professors! On Monday Gov. Hickenlooper signed HB18-1331, a bi-partisan bill that encourages “expanding the use of open educational resources at public institutions of higher education.”  Open educational resources, or OERs, are “high-quality teaching, learning and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits free use or repurposing by others and…[are] available to students for free or very low cost.”

OERs have gained popularity due to both the rising costs of textbooks and to professors’ desires to adapt and create content for their classes using a variety of mediums, such as streaming videos, software, online course modules, etc. The expanded use of OERs not only helps students save money on textbooks, but may help them academically, too — “research…indicates that, because of the cost of textbooks and other materials, students often do not buy [them], resulting in poor academic performance…Other studies indicate that students take fewer courses or drop courses because of the cost of textbooks and materials, extending the time to graduation,” according to the bill’s Legislative Declaration.

So what are those studies that the bill is referring to?  During last year’s legislative session, SB17-258 created the Open Educational Resources Council, which included representatives from higher education institutions and academic libraries across the state. The council issued their Report to the Joint Budget Committee in November 2017. This report cites the studies used to develop the reasoning for the new legislation. The bill signed this week continues the OER Council until at least 2021. It also provides for a new grant program “to support the creation and use” of OERs in Colorado public colleges and universities, helping save students money and giving teachers new options.

Colorado State Publications Blog

School Finance in Colorado

This week’s teacher walkouts have highlighted the issue of school finance in Colorado. Last week the Colorado Legislative Council issued a new booklet entitled School Finance in Colorado. This booklet is intended to help readers understand the complexities of Colorado’s school funding formulas, especially the Public School Finance Act of 1994 and its 2015 amendments. “Several illustrations are provided to help readers calculate funding under the formula. The booklet also describes several other provisions of law that relate to school district funding. These provisions include a description of revenue that is earmarked for specific functions, other local sources of revenue, categorical programs, and the Colorado Preschool Program,” according to the abstract.

The Legislature is also currently considering HB18-1379, a school finance bill that deals with per-pupil funding and district total program funding. For reference with the bill, Legislative Council has prepared a district-by-district funding comparison chart.

For a list of more helpful resources see my blog post from this past February about Understanding Colorado School Finance.

As for the teacher walkouts, according to Legislative Council’s website, SB18-264 prohibiting teacher strikes is currently the website’s most-accessed bill. To view all of the bills currently under consideration by the General Assembly, along with helpful resources by subject, visit their website.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Four-Day School Weeks

District 60 in Pueblo has announced that in August it will transition to a four-day school week.  Many Colorado school districts have already made the transition; in fact, according to the Colorado Department of Education, ninety-eight school districts and several charter schools have adopted four-day schedules.  It should be noted that even though they’re attending schools one less day a week, students are not spending less time in class; instead, they attend school for 7.5 hours instead of the traditional 6 hours.  The added class time can result in more in-depth lessons and can also reduce “latchkey” time when parents work.

Some of the popular reasons for switching to a four-day week include cost savings on transportation, utilities, and food services; a reduction in absenteeism; more time for teachers to work on grading and lesson planning; etc. If your district is considering a four-day school week, take a look at the Colorado Department of Education’s The Four-Day School Week Information Manual (2017) for more in-depth explanations of the reasons for switching, as well as data on how four-day weeks have worked for schools who have been on these schedules for a few years now.  See also the CDE research report entitled A Comparison of Colorado School Districts Operating on Four-Day and Five-Day Calendars (2009).

The law allowing Colorado school districts to experiment with four-day weeks was first passed in 1980. Some early studies on the program, including Student Achievement in the Four-Day School Week and An Evaluation of the Four-Day School Week in Colorado, can be checked out in print from our library.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Time Machine Tuesday: Springtime!!

Hooray for the first day of Spring!  Coloradans have always enjoyed springtime, with our mild and sunny weather.  A century ago, however, Coloradans celebrated more springtime holidays than we do today.  The State of Colorado Spring Holiday Book 1913 is a fun look back at some springtime holidays we still celebrate, like Mother’s Day, and others that have mostly been forgotten, like Good Roads Day.

The Spring Holiday Book was published by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction for use by teachers to help plan lessons around the holidays.  They include songs, stories, poems, artwork, and other items, such as “how to tell the age of a tree.”  Many of the items were contributed by well-known Colorado writers.  Also contained in this volume are many wonderful historical photos of Colorado schoolchildren and their celebrations; Colorado scenery; and more.

This book is a treasure for what it tells us about life and culture in Colorado more than a century ago.  It could also make a fun resource for today’s teachers to use to teach kids about life in Colorado’s past.  This particular copy, which has been digitized by our library, is extra fun because it includes handwritten notes in the margins from some long-ago teacher.

Photo of the Adams County Schoolhouse, from the Spring Holiday Book

Colorado State Publications Blog

Colorado Digital Learning Day

Governor Hickenlooper has declared today, Friday, February, 16, as Colorado Digital Learning Day.  This day highlights the important role of technology in today’s learning landscape.  The proclamation states in part that “Digital Learning Day will encourage teachers, students, schools, parents, policymakers, and the public to participate in activities that promote discussion about innovative learning practices.”

To find out more, see the Colorado Virtual Library’s blog post about Digital Literacy & Learning Resources.  Our library also has many helpful resources on digital learning and educational technology; search our online catalog for titles such as

The Colorado State Library Professional Collection also has numerous resources on this topic, available for check-out.


Colorado State Publications Blog

School Safety Resources

Sadly, there has been another school shooting, and our thoughts are with Florida during this difficult time.  The Colorado Department of Education (CDE) and other state agencies have many resources on school safety available to students, schools, and parents, such as

Colorado State Publications Blog

National School Counseling Week

“School counselors serve a vital role in maximizing student success,” says the American School Counselor Association, whether they’re helping a student find a good college or making sure the school is a safe learning environment.  Colorado has a grant program called School Counselor Corps that awards funds to schools and districts to “increase the availability of effective school-based counseling.”  The program’s annual report and impact summary offer information and statistics on the Counselor Corps program in Colorado.

Our library also has some historical resources that can provide perspective on how the role of school counselors in our state has changed over time:

  • Assessment of Guidance and Counseling Services in the Public Schools of Colorado, Colorado State University, 1975
  • Colorado Elementary Counseling and Guidance Handbook, Colorado Department of Education, 1970
  • Colorado Guidance and Counseling Handbook for School Counselors, Colorado Department of Education, 1978
  • Crossing the Cultural Bridge in Counseling, Colorado Department of Education, 1980
  • Legal Aspects of Guidance and Counseling in Colorado, Colorado Department of Education, 1976
Colorado State Publications Blog

Understanding Colorado School Finance

As one of the largest portions of our state budget, school finance is something that the Legislature keeps close tabs on.  There have already been a number of school finance bills introduced in the first month of the 2018 session.

Because of the number of laws that govern school finance in Colorado, such as the Public School Finance Act of 1994, marijuana revenue, and the State Education Fund, understanding how it works can be very complex.  So the State has issued a number of resources that can be helpful for navigating the complex web of school finance laws.  For starters, the Colorado Department of Education publishes an annual brochure entitled Understanding Colorado School Finance and Categorical Program FundingAlso, each February, the Colorado Legislative Council (the nonpartisan research office for the legislature) publishes their Report on the State Education Fund.  The new edition was just released; previous editions can be accessed from our library.

Here are some other helpful resources for understanding Colorado school finance:

Data on Colorado public school finance can be found in the Department of Education’s annual data spreadsheets and on their Office of School Finance website.

We have many, many more resources available as well, including historical information.  Search our library’s online catalog for more resources.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Colorado Public School Enrollment

You might be surprised to find out that in spite of the recent population boom in our state, the number of public school enrollments in 2017 showed the smallest increase since 1989!  According to figures just released by the Colorado Department of Education, public school enrollment only grew by 5,261 students in 2017 over the previous year.  Denver Public Schools is still the largest school district in the state, but showed markedly slower growth than many other districts.  Jefferson County Schools, the state’s second largest district, actually showed a small decrease.  You can find all of the numbers by viewing the department’s 2017-2018 pupil membership webpage. This includes breakdowns for race/ethnicity, free/reduced lunch, special education, online schools, English language learners, and more.  For a summary, see the department’s press release.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Fact Sheets from the Colorado Department of Education

Are you a parent interested in learning more about Colorado’s education system?  An educator seeking to familiarize yourself with a new program?  Or a researcher or reporter looking for quick facts?  Then be sure to check out the Colorado Department of Education’s series of Fact Sheets and FAQs for quick answers on a variety of education topics.  Find answers about:

  • Accountability
  • Assessment
  • Capital Construction
  • Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education
  • Dropout Prevention and Student Re-engagement
  • Early Learning and School Readiness
  • Educator Effectiveness
  • Marijuana Tax Revenue and Education
  • Postsecondary Readiness
  • READ Act
  • School Finance
  • School Nutrition
  • Social Media
  • Standards
  • Statutory Waiver Requests Guidance
  • Technology

…and much more!  Also, be sure to search our library’s online catalog for further resources.