Colorado State Publications Blog

Time Machine Tuesday: The Colorado Extension

In 1914 the Federal government passed the Smith-Lever Act, which established a system of Cooperative Extensions at American land grant universities, including the Colorado Agricultural College (today’s Colorado State University). Extensions were set up to provide rural and agricultural communities with classes, clubs, demonstrations, and publications to help them learn about farm, garden, and home economics practices. To introduce Coloradans to the program, the Colorado Agricultural College and the U.S. Department of Agriculture produced the publication The Smith-Lever Act and What It Provides for Colorado Farmers and Housekeepers, which you can read online from our library.

Ten years after the Act, the university published Agricultural Extension in Colorado: A Record in Word and Picturealso available to view online from our library. This commemorative publication describes the purpose, activities, and successes of Colorado’s Extension, and is full of great photos of farm and rural life in Colorado in the ‘teens and ‘twenties.

Colorado’s extension work had actually preceded the Smith-Lever Act. In 1912, the Colorado Agricultural College sponsored the office of the “State Leader of Farm Management Field Studies and Demonstration for Colorado.” Logan County was the first Colorado county to appoint an extension agent that year, and several others followed over the next two years. Then, in 1914, after the Federal law went into effect, Colorado’s Extension became official through an agreement between the College and the U.S. government. For more on the history of the establishment of the Extension in Colorado, including legislation, see this section from the CSU Extension’s staff handbook. The Extension has also produced a short video on their history.

Since its founding, the Extension has produced hundreds of bulletins and fact sheets on a wide variety of topics. CSU’s Extension is still going strong today, with county extension offices, classes, volunteer programs like the Colorado Master Gardener Program and Planttalk, and much more, in addition to their publications. To learn about their work and how to get involved, visit the CSU Extenison’s website. To read Extension publications from a century ago to the present, search our library’s digital repository.

Inside the Weld County Extension Office, showing the many publications offered, 1924.
Colorado State Publications Blog

Time Machine Tuesday: President Lincoln’s Birthday

Today marks Abraham Lincoln’s 210th birthday. America’s most beloved President was born on February 12, 1809, in a log cabin in Kentucky, although he lived most of his life in Illinois (aside from his time in Washington, D.C.). In the decades following his death, several efforts were made to make Lincoln’s birthday a national holiday, but were unsuccessful. President’s Day, however, honors Lincoln as well as George Washington, who was also born in February. Lincoln’s birthday is a state holiday in five states, but not in Colorado.

Our state has found other ways to honor Lincoln, however, including Lincoln County and even Lincoln Street in Denver. Colorado-quarried Yule Marble was used to build the Lincoln Memorial. And although Lincoln never visited here, Colorado Territory was established on February 28, 1861 — less than a week before Lincoln’s first inauguration — so it was the country’s newest territory at the time of his presidency.

In the early 1900s, the state’s Department of Public Instruction — now the Department of Education — issued books for teachers with lessons, stories, poems, and recitations in honor of Lincoln’s and Washington’s birthdays. Annual volumes of Birthdays of Washington & Lincoln have been digitized and made available online by our library.  The 1909 issue in particular is a special “centennial number” for Lincoln. Each volume gives fascinating insight not only on the lives of the presidents, but on the values, political atmosphere, and patriotism of the era in which the books were published. These volumes provide valuable primary source material for anyone researching American education and culture a century ago.

Finally, be sure to check out the Library of Congress’s website, where you can view the digitized Abraham Lincoln Papers.


Colorado State Publications Blog

Time Machine Tuesday: The WPA in Colorado

During the height of the Great Depression, as banks failed, unemployment soared, and farm prices dropped, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) was established as one of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal projects. The WPA focused on creating and providing jobs rather than handing out direct relief. Most of the WPA jobs were aimed at civic improvements, such as public buildings and roads. Thousands of out-of-work artists and artisans, architects, musicians, writers, historians, and others who had previously been employed in creative or intellectual fields were given temporary work. Parks, trails, bridges, public buildings, artworks, and literary projects produced by the WPA continue to be enjoyed to this day.

Colorado’s division of the WPA issued The WPA Worker: A Monthly Pictorial Journal for Workers and Citizens of Colorado Interested in the Statewide Projects of Works Progress AdministrationIssues from 1936 and 1937 have recently been digitized by our library. Each issue of this amazing periodical highlights WPA projects in all corners of the state. These included many construction projects like public buildings, roads, bridges, stadiums, and parks, but also included such varied activities as

As Coloradans suffered from the effects of the Great Depression, the WPA enhanced life in every part of the state, and often undertook long overdue projects that in many cases would not have been otherwise completed. Many of the projects continue to enhance our lives today.

For more resources on the WPA in Colorado, see the following publications available from our library:

Aguilar’s city hall was constructed by the WPA.


The playground at Lake Junior High in Denver was also a WPA project.


Old infrastructure was replaced across the state.
Colorado State Publications Blog

Time Machine Tuesday: History of Aspen, Colorado

Today, Aspen’s riches come from the ski industry — but they used to come from silver mining. Aspen was founded in 1879, during the glory days of Colorado silver mining — the same era when mining boomtowns like Leadville and Georgetown were being established. With seemingly endless amounts of silver in the nearby Elk and Sawatch mountains, Aspen thrived until 1893, when economic disaster struck. That year, Congress repealed the Sherman Silver Purchase Act, under which the federal government had purchased millions of ounces of silver for coinage. Without a market for the silver, Aspen and the other boomtowns nearly became ghost towns.

Despite a steady decline in population, and area mines and railroads going bankrupt, Aspen managed to survive — but it needed something to sustain it. Tourism, and the newly fashionable sport of skiing, became the answer. In 1924, the Independence Pass Highway was completed, making travel to Aspen easier. Then, in 1936, Aspen’s first ski lodge was opened, ushering in the industry that would give rebirth to the town. Ski enthusiasts and wealthy vacationers descended on Aspen. In 1946, the area’s first chairlift opened, the longest in the world at the time, according to an article in the Colorado Encyclopedia. New ski resorts opened, and Aspen continued to thrive.

It wasn’t just skiing that made Aspen famous, however. It became known as a center for arts and culture, hosting such notable events as the Aspen Music Festival, the International Design Conference, and the Aspen Institute. Today, Aspen is known as a playground for celebrities, with some of the most expensive real estate in the United States — a far cry from the Silver Crash days.

You can read more about Aspen in numerous publications from our library; many are available online. In 1958, William Wardell wrote a delightful article in the Colorado Historical Society’s Colorado Magazine, sharing his memories of childhood in Aspen before the Silver Crash. You can also read about Aspen during the mining years in Aspen: The History of a Silver Mining Town, 1879-1893, which is available for checkout.

Over the past several decades the University of Colorado’s business school has prepared numerous studies on Aspen tourism, including:

The University’s Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research also published several studies on Aspen environmental issues, including Quality Skiing at Aspen, Colorado (1975) and Landslides Near Aspen, Colorado (1976).

Other historical resources on Aspen available from our library include highway studies, air quality studies, a 1965 report on the Aspen general area plan, and, more recently, Climate Change and Aspen from 2006. Search our online catalog for titles. Finally, be sure to check out the Aspen Historical Society’s website for a historical timeline, digital archives, and more.


Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Colorado State Publications Blog

Time Machine Tuesday: The Colorado State Museum

Credit: Denver Public Library Western History & Genealogy Department

Have you lived in Colorado long enough to remember when the State Museum was located at 14th and Sherman, in what is now the Legislative Services Building?

The State Historical Society was established in 1879 and its earliest museum exhibits were located in the State Capitol. By the early 1900s, however, the Society wanted its own home. Architect Frank Edbrooke — who had completed the designs for the Capitol — was hired to design a new structure, which would be located across the street. Built of native Colorado materials including Yule marble and Cotopaxi granite, the three-story Classical Revival-style building was completed in 1915. The museum was best known for its impressive archaeological collections and early Native American artifacts. Later, in the 1930s, WPA activities resulted in a great deal of historical research as well as the creation of the dioramas that became one of the museum’s most memorable features. In fact, the amazingly detailed WPA diorama depicting 1860 Denver can still be viewed at today’s History Colorado Center.

You can learn about the old museum building in Colorado Capitol Buildings, a 1951 publication highlighting the State Capitol and its associated architecture. In addition, a 1972 museum brochure digitized by our library might bring back memories, with photos and descriptions of the exhibits.

The State Museum continued at 14th and Sherman until 1976, when it moved to a new home at 1300 Broadway. That second building was torn down in 2010 and the current building, at 12th and Broadway, opened in 2012. The old museum building became legislative offices, due to its proximity to the Capitol, and is a part of the Denver Civic Center National Historic Landmark District.

The Colorado State Museum under construction, circa 1915. Credit: Denver Public Library Western History & Genealogy Department.


Colorado State Publications Blog

Time Machine Tuesday: The Dotsero Train Wreck

110 years ago today occurred one of the state’s worst train disasters. On January 15, 1909 at 9:47p.m., a westbound Denver & Rio Grande passenger train collided with an eastbound freight train just outside of Dotsero, in Eagle County. Apparently the engineer of the passenger train had been confused about the time his train was ordered to depart. Twenty people, mostly passengers, were killed instantly in the head-on collision; another five succumbed to their injuries within a week of the accident. Thirty others were also injured.

The Dotsero disaster, along with several smaller wrecks and derailments occurring that same year, caused the Colorado Railroad Commission to examine railroad safety laws and pursue legislation for increased railroad safety. You can read their report and recommendations online, courtesy of our library. This report includes some unfortunate statistics – in all of the 1909 accidents combined, thirty-five passengers lost their lives and seventy-six were injured. That’s not even counting railroad employees or individuals who were trespassing on railroad tracks. If those numbers are taken into account, a total of 113 persons were killed that year, and 116 injured.

You can read more about the state’s investigation of the Dotsero wreck in the Biennial Report of the State Railroad Commission, another publication which as been digitized by our library. The state Railroad Commission eventually became the Public Utilities Commission, which still exists today, overseeing rail and transit safety alongside other utilities such as energy and telecommunications. Annual/biennial reports of both commissions from 1907 through 1930, as well as more recent reports, can be viewed online from our library. Finally, be sure to search the Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection for some fascinating digitized newspaper articles about the Dotsero disaster.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Time Machine Tuesday: Colorado a Century Ago

Our library has recently digitized a delightful publication from 1917 that looks at life in the various regions of Colorado. The Story of Colorado examines all parts of the the state, for the purpose of attracting settlers and investors. The portfolio is divided first by region, then by county within each region. Each contains statistics on the area’s agriculture and industry, accompanied by some wonderful photographs of each region’s architecture, industry, and natural beauty. Find the section on your part of the state, and learn what life was like in Colorado a century ago!

The Story of Colorado
Colorado State Publications Blog

Time Machine Tuesday: Denver’s First Christmas

160 years ago, in December 1858, about fifty settlers gathered for Denver’s first Christmas celebration. Among the revelers was General William Larimer, Denver’s founder. Lured by the prospect of gold, Larimer and his party had reached Cherry Creek and the South Platte just a month earlier. There they found two towns, Auraria and St. Charles, already staked out. The St. Charles town company had made the mistake of leaving their camp to head back east for the winter, so Larimer jumped their claim – according to legend, plying the guard with liquor – and called the new town Denver City. He chose the name to flatter James Denver, governor of Kansas Territory, of which the town site was then a part. Larimer didn’t realize, however, that Denver had retired as governor a few weeks before.

Other gold rushers came to the new town, and the settlers put together a committee to plan the town’s first Christmas celebration. The guests included E.P. Stout and S.S. Curtis who, like their friend Larimer, each have downtown Denver streets named for them. There were songs and speeches, but the highlight of that first Denver Christmas was the dinner. The settlers feasted on every kind of wild game imaginable, including some that are hard to imagine (“grizzly bear a la mode”?). They also had potatoes, beans, rice, vegetables, raisins, nuts, “prickley pear,” nine different kinds of pie, and a “wine list” that included everything from champagne to Taos lightning. The menu was recorded by A.O. McGrew, who sent the Omaha Times a colorful description of the festivities. In 1937, the Colorado Historical Society re-published the article in their Colorado Magazine, which you can now read online.

You can read more about William Larimer and the founding of Denver in the University Press of Colorado titles Colorado: A History of the Centennial State and Denver: Mining Camp to Metropolis, available for checkout from our library.

The State Publications Library wishes you and yours a happy holiday season! (Even if grizzly bear isn’t on the menu).

Colorado State Publications Blog

Time Machine Tuesday: Constructing Vail Pass

Colorado’s ski industry depends on transportation along I-70. What would your drive to the slopes be like if it weren’t for Vail Pass?

Charles D. “Charley” Vail was the visionary behind the pass, and it – along with the town and ski area – bears his name. Director of the state’s Department of Highways from 1931 to 1945, Vail proposed the route, but construction didn’t start until 1975, thirty years after Vail’s death. Construction took three years, and the result is one of Colorado’s engineering marvels.

According to a local magazine, Vail Pass was built with “the first bridge span in the country built with pre-cast concrete (with sections ferried from Denver), erosion-resistant landscaping (including a unique retaining wall designed by architects from Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West), the state’s first separated bicycle path over a mountain pass, and the first solar-heated rest area in Colorado.”

Our library collection includes a number of Highway Department documents concerning the construction of Vail Pass, and the various engineering challenges they faced. Some of these resources have been digitized by our library, including:

Also, a report on the solar-heated rest area is available for checkout from our library, as is a DVD of a 1978 promotional video, Vail Pass: A Highway in Harmony with its Environment.

Before-and-after aerials of Vail Pass, from I-70 in a Mountain Environment (1978)
Colorado State Publications Blog

Time Machine Tuesday: Colorado Facts and Figures

One hundred years ago the State of Colorado began publishing its annual Year Book, featuring of all kinds of facts and figures about the state. The year books were published by the State Board of Immigration and later by the State Planning Commission, as a way to attract newcomers to Colorado. Today, they are an extremely valuable resource for anyone researching life in Colorado in the first half of the twentieth century — and they are now available online from our library.

The Year Book of the State of Colorado was published from 1918 to 1950. In each edition you can find that year’s statistics on population, geography, climate, industry, agriculture, natural resources, highways, automobiles, railroads, telephones, schools, health, land classification, homeownership, elected officials, banks, post offices, commercial organizations, county data, and much more. Maps and charts supplement the data. If you’re looking for Colorado statistics from 1918 to 1950, start here!

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

Time Machine Tuesday: Colorado Constitutional Convention

3-storey brick building
The site of the convention later became known as Constitution Hall. Photo courtesy Denver Public Library Western History Department.

This Election Day, as we vote on changes to our Colorado Constitution, you might be wondering how the original state constitution came about. Colorado became a state on August 1, 1876. But several months prior, in December 1875, leading Colorado citizens gathered to draft a state constitution. The site of the convention later became known as Constitution Hall.

Delegates to the convention came from every district in the soon-to-be state. They met at the Odd Fellows Hall, upstairs from the First National Bank, on Blake Street in Denver (which burned to the ground a century later, in 1977). Attorney and Pueblo Chieftain editor Wilbur F. Stone was elected president of the convention. Other members of the convention included Byron Carr, who would later become Colorado Attorney General; Henry C. Thatcher, the first chief justice of the Colorado supreme court; long-serving legislator Casimiro Barela; Indian agent Lafayette Head, who became Colorado’s first lieutenant governor; and others.

Online via our library you can find two publications that tell the story of Colorado’s original constitutional convention. The first, dated July 1, 1876, contains the constitution as it was drafted along with an Address of the Convention to the People of Colorado. The second is the proceedings of the December 1875 constitutional convention, compiled into a book in 1907. The original handwritten Colorado constitution can also be viewed online. It was digitized by the Colorado State Archives.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Time Machine Tuesday: Ute Indian Water Rights

Animas-La Plata Project

This year marks the thirtieth anniversary of the federal government’s passage of the Colorado Ute Indian Water Rights Settlement Act of 1988. Three years prior, in 1985, the US government, the State of Colorado, and Colorado’s two Ute tribes began negotiating for water rights for Colorado’s two Ute reservations in the southwest corner of the state. Colorado’s Ben Nighthorse Campbell sponsored the 1988 act in Congress. With the passage of the act, the Utes’ rights to surface streams and tributary groundwater on the reservations were upheld. Amendments in 2000 allowed for the construction of the Animas-La Plata water project, which had first been planned for the area in 1956.

In the years leading up to the 1988 act, the State of Colorado published several studies on the area watersheds and the Utes’ tribal water rights. These studies include:

along with several other reports for nearby watersheds. Search our library’s digital repository for more studies. Also in our library you can find the 2001 publication How Well Do You Know Your Water Well?: Groundwater and Water Wells in Southwest Colorado, which was prepared in cooperation with the Southern Ute tribe.

The Animas-La Plata project was not completed until 2013. To learn more, see:

At our library you can also view a 1988 geotechnical map of the project.

For the history of Colorado’s Ute tribes and reservations, see Southern Ute Lands, 1848-1899: The Creation of a Reservation and The Last War Trail: The Utes and the Settlement of Colorado, available for checkout from our library; and Ute Tribal Paths, an online exhibit from History Colorado. For additional resources, search our library’s online catalog. Finally, for background on tribal water rights – although predating the 1988 act – see the publication Indian Water Rights in the West: A Study (1983).

Colorado State Publications Blog

Time Machine Tuesday: Festival of Mountain and Plain

In 1895, Coloradans were looking for something to lift their spirits. Two years before, the state had been devastated by the worst economic crisis in its history. But after a couple of years had passed, the state was slowly recovering. So, what better way to boost morale and celebrate Colorado’s resilience than with a giant party? The Festival of Mountain and Plain, as it was to be called, was planned by a committee of leading Denver citizens overseen by booster extraordinaire William N. Byers, the founder and former owner of the Rocky Mountain News.

Held October 16-18, 1895, the festival kicked off with an enormous parade through the streets of Denver. In celebrating the state’s economic recovery, the parade featured floats highlighting Colorado’s various industries — mining, agriculture, manufacturing — as well as floats from Denver school children and civic groups. A second, military parade was held the following day. In the evenings, 16th Street “from Larimer to Broadway” was lit with “over 3,000 electric globes.” The final day of the festival included a band contest, a miner’s drilling contest, “exhibits showing the resources of the state,” a free football game, and, in City Park, an “Indian Festival” with “dances, sports and ceremonies by Ute and Santa Clara Indians.” The festival culminated with a Grand Allegorical parade featuring the “Silver Serpent.” Because Colorado’s reliance on silver mining had been the cause of the 1893 crash, the festival symbolized the defeat of the “serpent.”

The festival was considered an enormous success, with over 100,000 people attending. The event was so popular that it was held again each October through 1899. Each year, new attractions were added: a “Balloon Ascension and Parachute Jump” in 1896; an enormous outdoor masquerade ball in 1897; a horse show in 1899. After this time, however, interest began to wane. Festival organizers skipped 1900 and tried again in 1901, but this festival was not nearly as successful as it had been in the 1890s. A final attempt was made in 1912, but again, the festival failed to make enough money and to attract the numbers that it had during its first years. Those years, however, became legendary and the festival was long remembered in the memories of those who had lived in Denver in the 1890s. Today’s many downtown festivals have their roots in the great Festival of Mountain and Plain.

In 1948, Levette J. Davidson published a two-part history of the Festival of Mountain and Plain in the Colorado Magazine. Part 1 can be found in the July issue and Part 2 appeared in the September issue. The articles present a detailed look at the festival programs, the reasons for its discontinuance, and some great photos of the floats and festivities.

The 1895 festival grandstand at Colfax and Broadway with view of the State Capitol. Courtesy Denver Public Library Western History & Genealogy Department.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Time Machine Tuesday: Victory Gardens

Victory gardens were a part of life on the home front during World War II. While farmers were encouraged to increase production to help feed the hungry soldiers, those living in urban and suburban areas were also encouraged to help the war effort by growing as much of their own food as possible. Eleanor Roosevelt even planted a victory garden on the White House lawn.

Many people who planted victory gardens were not experienced gardeners, or had only had small gardens before the war. So here in Colorado the Colorado State College (now Colorado State University) published a number of resources to help gardeners and small-size farmers learn the basics of home food production. Many of their publications focused on avoiding problems, such as diseases, which if controlled could lead to higher yield. One such publication, issued by the college’s Experiment Station, was Psyllid Control on Potatoes and Tomatoes in the Victory Garden. Other wartime Colorado State College publications included Increasing Home Vegetable Gardening and Starting Vegetable Plants.

The College’s Colorado Farm Victory Program published a series of brochures which included such titles as Alfalfa in Colorado; Diseases of Cucumber and Melons and Their Control; Concrete Tile for Sub-Irrigated Gardens; and Irrigation for Maximum Production.  Farm Victory Program brochures also focused on home food storage to reduce waste. Some of these titles include Drying Fruits and Vegetables; Home Storage of Fruits and Vegetables; Preservation of Meat, Poultry and Fish by Freezing; Home Canning of Vegetables in a Pressure Cooker; Clean Milk and Cream: How to Produce Them; and even Pest Control on the Home Front. Search our library’s online catalog for more Farm Victory Program brochures and other titles.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Time Machine Tuesday: Traffic Data

As more and more people move to Colorado, we all spend a lot more of our time sitting in traffic. Colorado’s highways were constructed in the mid-twentieth century, when the population was much lower. So how does your daily commute compare with a half-century ago?

In 1971, the Colorado Division of Highways released Traffic Volumes on Urban Freeways in Colorado, a report containing graphs and charts with average weekday traffic volumes for Colorado’s highways. You can compare these numbers to the current traffic volumes, which are available in the Colorado Department of Transportation’s Online Transportation Information System (OTIS) database, for some pretty amazing results!

Colorado State Publications Blog

Time Machine Tuesday: The Colorado Traveling Library Commission

In 1903 the Colorado Legislature passed an act creating the Colorado Traveling Library Commission. Appointed by the governor, the commission consisted of five volunteers from Colorado women’s clubs who oversaw the shipment of boxes of books to Colorado schools and towns. The program’s goals were to create a “love and habit of reading good books” and “to have more good books read per capita than any other state.”

The distribution of boxes of books was made to rural communities across the state. Each box contained fifty books of mixed collections of fiction and nonfiction. Anyone from a community could request the box, but they had to be responsible for its contents, to be returned to the commission after a period of six months. The program also sponsored a free magazine mailing to hospitals, train stations, and other public gathering places, as well as to prisons and reformatories.

During its first year, the program sponsored 122 boxes. Each box was purchased and assembled by a local club or charity; a few boxes were sponsored by individuals. Just five years later, they were up to 242 boxes! In 1912 the program’s biennial report carried comments from readers who had benefited from the program. This one is my favorite:

“I must thank you for the books. We are thirty miles from a railroad, four miles from neighbors. We have a dry claim. The hail came and left us nothing, and my husband and one son had to go away to work. Not more than once in four or five weeks do we see anyone. I cannot think what we would have done without the books. We are not able to buy books or anything. Certainly, of all charities this is the greatest.”

To learn more about the Traveling Library commission, see their biennial reports, which have been digitized by our library. Here you can find lists of the book boxes and who sponsored them; locations where the boxes were sent; and information on the commission members and other supporters. The 1910/12 report also contains a memorial tribute to Julia V. Welles, the founding leader of the program, who passed away in December 1912.

The years 1904 to 1912 were the apex of the program. After that time, the biennial reports were no longer required when the legislature changed how it appropriated funds to the program and these changes, alongside Welles’ death, caused the program to fade somewhat. But the commission did continue along until 1929, when it was was combined with the Board of Library Commissioners to create the new Colorado Library Commission. This combined program continued until 1933 with the establishment of the State Library as we know it today.

One of the commission’s traveling book boxes. Photo from the 1910/12 biennial report.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Time Machine Tuesday: Anniversary of the 2013 Floods

Five years ago today, the rain began to fall in what became one of the state’s most significant flood disasters, impacting twenty-four counties and causing millions of dollars in damage. The Colorado communities affected by the September 2013 floods showed amazing resilience and are thriving once again.

Here are some State of Colorado resources that tell the story of the 2013 floods and subsequent recovery efforts:

Flood damage near Jamestown, Colorado, September 2013.

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Colorado State Publications Blog

Time Machine Tuesday: 20th Century Fashions

Diagram of ladies’ hats from Planning One’s Clothes (1924)

In the early 20th century, keeping your family clothed wasn’t nearly as easy as it is today. Now, online shopping and large retail stores give us access to thousands of clothing options, but a century ago, clothing items were more expensive and often were not mass-produced, and many people still sewed their own clothing. As a result, mothers and housewives spent a great deal of effort mending, repairing, and caring for their family’s wardrobes. This is evidenced by publications from the Extension Service of the Colorado Agricultural College (today’s Colorado State University).
The Extension produced – and still produces – hundreds of bulletins, pamphlets, and factsheets that offer simple advice on agriculture, gardening, and home economics. Among the bulletins produced in the 1920s include several on how to care for clothing. For anyone researching early 20th century fashion and domestic life, these bulletins are excellent primary sources. Some of the 1920s titles include Simple Articles for Clothing and Household Use (1923); Clothing Clubs (1923); Baby Bunting’s Clothing Budget (1924); Blouses, Skirts and Dresses (1924); Planning One’s Clothes (1924); and Care of Clothing (1925). Although published in the flush times of the ’20s, their tips on caring for and prolonging the life of garments would become especially helpful to those affected by the Great Depression in the 1930s.
When WWII broke out, some clothing items were rationed while many clothing factories shifted from civilian consumer goods to the production of war materiel. Therefore, those on the homefront were encouraged to make do with what they had, or to remodel older garments into new uses. In 1942 the Extension produced Care of Clothing: Daily-Weekly-Seasonal; Care of Woolen Clothing; and Remodeling Clothing.
By the 1970s, clothing was becoming cheaper and more mass-produced, so the Extension began focusing on more on creative sewing, as well as how families, especially those on farms and in rural areas with less access to cheap consumer goods, could maximize their clothing budgets. 1970s titles included Rags to Riches: Recycle Your Clothes and Western Wear Wisdom.
Finally, in the 1990s, clothing became so mass-produced that many people had never learned the most basic mending techniques. The Extension came to the rescue with publications like Fixing a Torn Loose Pocket; Making a New Hem; Patching Knees in Pants; Replacing a Jacket Zipper; Replacing Elastic in Skirts or Pants; and Replacing Torn-Off Buttons.
In the 20th century, it wasn’t just the fashions themselves that changed, but people’s approach to buying and owning clothes changed as well. Check out these and other publications from the CSU Extension, available from our library, to learn more.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Time Machine Tuesday: The Colorado Attorney General

A.J. Sampson, Colorado’s first state Attorney General.

The Attorney General of Colorado is an elected official tasked with “represent[ing] and defend[ing] the legal interests of the people of Colorado and its sovereignty.” The Attorney General’s Office — comprised of the elected Attorney General and the state’s Department of Law — serves as legal counsel for state government and also focuses on issues of consumer/public safety and representing the state’s interest before the federal government.

Since Colorado became a state, thirty-eight people have served as Colorado’s Attorney General, beginning with A.J. Sampson in 1877. Two Colorado Attorneys General, Gale Norton and Ken Salazar, have served as United States Secretary of the Interior.* Several others have served in Congress. One third of them served in the State Legislature. The office has been held by twenty-three Republicans, twelve Democrats, one Populist, and two elected on the “fusion ticket” of the 1890s — a mix of votes from members of the Populist, Democrat, and Silver Republican parties.

The activities, cases, and opinions of the state Attorney General have been recorded in the office’s Biennial Report. The full run of the reports from 1877 through 1966 can be viewed digitally from our library, along with more recent reports from the past decade. You can also learn more about Colorado’s Attorneys General in The People’s Lawyer: The History of the Colorado Attorney General’s Office, published in 2007 by Attorney General John Suthers and his staff. The book examines each Attorney General in detail. You can also find short bios and photos on the History of Colorado’s Attorneys General webpage from the Department of Law.

*Six Secretaries of the Interior have been appointed from Colorado: Henry M. Teller, 1882-1885, under President Arthur; Hubert Work, 1923-1928, under Presidents Harding and Coolidge; Oscar Chapman, 1949-1953, under President Truman; James G. Watt, 1981-1983, under President Reagan; Norton, 2001-2006, under President George W. Bush; and Salazar, 2009-2013, under President Obama.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Time Machine Tuesday: Colorado Biographies

Genealogists and others looking for biographical information on Coloradans from earlier than 1927 should view volumes 4 and 5 of the State Historical Society’s History of Colorado, which has been digitized by our library. These final two volumes of the five-volume set are filled with hundreds of biographies on Coloradans. While many of these biographies do tend to feature the wealthier members of society, there are also many middle-class persons featured. Glancing through, I found biographies of teachers, insurance salesmen, and engineers mixed in with businessmen, politicians, and pioneers. Many women are also included, such as Dr. Mary Elizabeth Bates, the first female intern at Cook County Hospital in Chicago who practiced for more than thirty years in Denver, and Fannie Ellen Arnett, postmistress of the town of Peetz in Logan County.
Besides the History of Colorado, our library has many other resources where you can find biographies of Coloradans. Colorado Magazine contains numerous biographies, including the tales of many early settlers. They also published a series of biographies on Colorado first ladies.  For bios of Colorado governors, head to State Archives.
We also have in our collection numerous biography books from the University Press of Colorado, the Colorado Historical Society, and the state universities. Colorado Profiles from University Press of Colorado provides short bios on many colorful Coloradans. We also have standalone biographies on such individuals as Wayne Aspinall, Arthur Carhart, Herndon Davis, S.R. DeBoer, Thomas Hornsby Ferril, Irene Jerome Hood, William Henry Jackson, Enos Mills, George Norlin, John Otto, Thomas M. Patterson, Helen Ring Robinson, Henry M. Teller, Horace Tabor, Thomas Walsh, Edward Wynkoop, and many others. Also, be sure to check out the biographies of famous Coloradans featured in the Colorado Virtual Library.