Western History / Genealogy > Peoples and Cultures

Peoples and Cultures

The United States of America, like most countries in the western hemisphere, is a nation of immigrants, willing or not. Pre-contact American Indians are a fraction of the people who occupy the Americas today, while the majority of Americans can trace roots to every other continent on Earth.

Many people lost track of their family and cultural histories after arriving in the New World, some by chance or misfortune, and some deliberately. People today find meaning and purpose in discovering the history and origins of who they are, gaining a sense of connection, continuity and rootedness to history and the world at large. Ethnicity that was once effaced is now restored, shared and celebrated.

As different ethnic groups develop their history, our collection grows with the constant flow of new interpretations, retellings, and inspired gleanings.


X-9082,  X-12339, X-1974


The Denver Public Library's Western History / Genealogy Department maintains an ever growing variety of resources with information or themes of interest for ethnic, cultural or family history. Our collections focus on the trans-Mississippi West, meaning "west of the Mississippi." This includes Alaska, Hawaii, and western Canada. Our genealogy collections are national in scope.

Spanish land grants, maps, newspapers and photographs all provide primary source material for research topics. The department also offers a substantial number of books, magazines, journals, and videos on ethnic groups that "built the West."


X-21664, RH-1096, X-12948


The photographs below are from Burnis McCloud's collection, which document the social life of Denver's African American community in the 1940s and 1950s.

MCD-114, MCD-215,  MCD-134


X-29504,  Z-825,  X-21575, X-21597





X-6580, X-21651,  X-7502, X-21518

Many Asian Americans helped build the West. Their stories can be traced in the Western History / Genealogy Department's collections.


Western History / Genealogy Department
The Denver Public Library

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