Western History / Genealogy > Newspapers and Magazines

Newspapers and Magazines

Details of times past come to life in the publications of the era. The Library's holdings of newspapers, magazines, and other periodicals is a superb place to sample the day-to-day life of the world as it was. The collection represents publications from the western United States, particularly those from the Rocky Mountain region.

Denver's two major newspapers, the Rocky Mountain News and The Denver Post, extend to the beginnings of each paper, 1859 for The News, and 1895 for The Post. Other newspapers that reported on and boosted the development of the Mile High City were: The Denver Times, Denver Republican, Cervi's Journal, Labor Advocate, Great Divide, Rocky Mountain Herald, and The WCTU Messenger (Women's Christian Temperance Union). The holdings exist in microfilm, and in many instances, in hard copy as well.

Colorado towns outside Denver are well represented in the collection. Some examples of colorful, self-descriptive titles are: Idaho Springs Siftings, The Southern Ute Drum (Ignacio), Blackhawk Daily Mining Journal, The Gunnison Empire, Durango Idea, Gilpin County Observer, Estes Park Trail, The Primrose and Cattlemen's Gazette (Fort Lupton), Walsenburg Yucca, and the CF&I Blast (Pueblo - Colorado Fuel & Iron). The titles indicate the broad Colorado geography covered by the library's holdings, as well as some of the major interests that underpin Colorado's history - mining, ranching, and American Indians.

A western newspaper microfilm collection purchased in the 1960's added to the department's periodical offerings. Researchers can look up an 1849 Alta California citation right on the spot. Deseret News (Utah), Black Hills Times (Deadwood, SD), the Globe Livestock Journal (Dodge City, KS) are other titles readily available on microfilm. Territorial Enterprise (Virginia City, NV), for the 1860s period when cub reporter Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) was honing his creative skills, is part of this collection also.

It's not unusual to see a customer at one of our wide tables, poring over yellowed newsprint, savoring the atmosphere and events of 1890s Aspen, or Durango, for example.

Denver Newspaper MastheadsX-12339X-1974


Western Newspaper Mastheads

Besides the two major Denver newspapers, the Rocky Mountain News and The Denver Post, the Library has hundreds of local newspapers and magazine titles, reflecting the Rocky Mountain region's diverse communities and religious organizations, past and present. These tell stories and provide rich details not found elsewhere.


Special Interest NewspapersX-21164mX-28750X-12948


Magazines and "slick" publications from numerous interest groups find their home at the Western History / Genealogy Department.

Western MagazinesARL-171ARL-69ARL-7

Business and institutional periodicals can yield delightful surprises. These Denver Mining Company reports are full of statistics and chemistry, but the covers provide a visual treat. [Click images for larger versions]


Trade Publications


One of the unique treasures of the department is the extensive "General Index" card file that contains more than seven million entries on four million cards. Developed over the last century, it provides access to previously un-indexed materials, such as newspapers, local histories, biographical works, journals and other periodicals.

The General Index is an every-name index of the Rocky Mountain News from 1865-85 (a WPA project) and a partial index to other Denver newspapers up to the early 1990s. It is one the most important research tools available to the public. One historian said of the General Index:

"All hail to the generations of librarians and Denver taxpayers who have supported, built, and maintained such a superb research tool."

General Index Card
A card from the General Index

Other popular gold mines of information are special obituary indexes and 150 shelves of Denver newspaper clippings filed by subject and spanning more than a hundred years.



The headlines in these oversized scans of The Rocky Mountain News make interesting reading.
[Click for larger versions - 300 to 400 kb - images open in new windows]

January 1, 1901
April 16, 1912
May 22, 1927
Click For Larger Version
Click For Larger Version
Click For Larger Version


From Malcolm G. Wyer's Western History Collection, its Beginning and Growth:

. . .We have secured a number of newspaper files from different parts of the region. A file of the Santa Fe New Mexican was transferred to us from the Colorado State Historical Society; a set of the Rocky Mountain Herald was a gift from Mrs. Thomas Hornsby Ferril, and valuable papers from the Gunnison district were given by David Herrick. . . .

. . .We also succeeded in securing the original publisher's file of The Solid Muldoon, edited by the colorful Dave Day and published at Ouray and Durango. We learned that the file was in the possession of a member of the family living on a ranch near Durango. Many efforts had been made to purchase the set or secure its gift to one of the Colorado libraries, but the family would never consider parting with it. However, in a visit with Mr. George Vest Day the danger of leaving so important a newspaper collection in a ranch home subject to loss by fire was emphasized. This, and emphasis on the importance of preserving the collection for use in a well established library, finally induced the family to part with the set. . . .

Solid Muldoon Masthead

Wyer quotes the Great Divide:

"The Solid Muldoon is one of the most strongly individualized papers of Colorado. The first issue of the Solid Muldoon appeared September 5, 1879. All the mining camps of the region had newspapers, even then, but they were mostly mean, witless sheets, subsisting mainly on legal advertising of the United States Land Office. News was impossible, and opinions, they had none to express. The Muldoon, therefore, burst like a fountain of sweet out of this Sahara, and there was an immediate rush for it. The scene on the afternoon of its issue was a unique and memorable one in Ouray. Copies were snatched 'hot from the press' and read aloud amid roars of laughter by men assembled in front of the rows of saloons that lined the main street of the camp....Its range of editorial observation covered the public men and affairs of the whole state, and its terse, incisive, nipping wit had the great merit for a newspaper of being quotable, and of course it got widely quoted. . . .

The name itself was a hit. Its ridiculous incongruity with anything relating to journalism challenged curiosity. The world has probably forgotten that sometime before a party of impecunious showmen had 'worked a fake' on the public in imitation of the famous 'Cardif Giant' scheme, by 'finding' a petrified giant of enormous proportions in the Arkansas valley, which came to be designated the Solid Muldoon. This was the origin of the name."

Western History / Genealogy Department
The Denver Public Library

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