On This Day in Colorado History

I’m a history geek. I like exploring history museums, visiting historical sites and buildings, and am recently hooked on the show Mysteries at the Museum on the Travel Channel.

I especially love reading about historical events and real-life people and will more often choose a title like Operation Mincemeat by Ben Macintyre or anything by Erik Larson over the latest fiction novel (unless its “historical fiction” and then it moves up on the “to be read” list alongside exceptions made for the latest “Nordic noir”).

So, imagine how excited I was to discover the Colorado Historic Newspaper Collection (CHNC) at the Library. This online archive currently includes more than 971,000 digitized pages, representing more than 200 individual newspaper titles published in Colorado primarily from 1859 to 1923.*

The CHNC allows you to easily browse historical Colorado newspapers.

I came across the CHNC while doing research about Old Town Library (nee Main Library, Carnegie Library) last year for the library’s 40th Anniversary. At the time, I was searching for relevant news articles that shed light on the history of the library and how it grew since library services first began in Fort Collins in 1882.

I’ve recently come back to the CHNC purely for exploration and enjoyment. It’s fun to read “old” news articles, and not just because of the way in which they were written but also because many of the issues facing the state and local community years ago are not so different than news reports we see today.


July 27 Headlines

I thought it would be fun to take a look at what topics were making headlines around the state and in Fort Collins on this day, July 27, in history. Here’s what a quick search uncovered.

The front page of the Rocky Mountain News, July 27, 1861 edition

Rocky Mountain News, 1861

On this date in 1861 our state was still the Colorado Territory, and Rocky Mountain News was reporting on the latest session of Congress where “Mr. Crittenden asked leave to submit resolutions, declaring that the present civil war had been forced on us by the disunionists of the Southern States, now in rebellion against the Government of the United States.”

Other “Local Matters” from the evening news included a notice about 12-pound “Nugget” discovered by Mr. McIllheny and a companion in South Clear Creek as well as a short statement about the recovery of prize fighter Enoch Davies from “the effects of the severe surgical operation performed some twelve days since” and who is said to be training for a coming fight.

Denver Daily Times, 1876

In a section called “People and Things”, there is a list of short statements about random things. The July 27 edition includes:

  • “The walls of the Mormon Temple are now fifteen feet high.”
  • “Victor Hugo is worth half a million dollars and is as egotistic as he is rich.”
  • “Tennie Claflin says that that she and her whole family have become Catholics.”
  • “’Bilin peaches’ is the slang down South for illicit distilling.”
  • “In Paris they call mosquitos ‘cousins.’ Here we regard them as miniature mothers-in-law.”
Tennessee Celeste Claflin, aka Tennie Claflin

Fort Collins Weekly Courier, 1899

Among other headlines, the call for “More Old Fashioned Ideas” stands out. It’s suggested that “Girls without fortunes are nowadays supported in idleness and luxury y overindulgent parents and expected to be thus cared for after marriage. The annual cost of such a girl’s maintenance is more than the income of a young man, unless he is exceptionally fortunate. The fault lies with the parents…”

Weekly Courier, 1914

The big headline on this day in 1914 was in regards to President Wilson’s statement that “the United States will not meddle in European politics.” This came alongside headlines like “Old World Nations Mobilizing Troops for Bitter Conflict; Financial Panic Feared” and “Austrians Occupy Belgrade, Capital of Serbia – Powers May Not Interfere.”

Headline in the Weekly Courier 1914

Fort Collins Courier, 1922

The newspaper included this beauty tip for eliminating “Freckle Face”: “Here’s a chance, Miss Freckle-face to try a remedy for freckles with the guarantee of a reliable concern that it will not cost you a penny unless it remove the freckles…Simply get an ounce of Othine – double strength – from any druggist and a few applications should show you how easy it is to rid yourself of the homely freckles and get a beautiful complexion.”

A more serious article placed later in the paper examined “Who Owns the Colorado River?” and other important questions facing a commission of representatives from seven states and the federal government.

The 1922 Fort Collins Courier included a quick article about ridding yourself of freckles.

I could spend hours browsing through CHNC’s Colorado newspapers and continue to find articles and advertisements that fascinate and delight.

If you’re a history geek too, why not check out some of the Library’s great eResources for uncovering local and state history?


*Due to copyright restrictions, the Collection does not always include newspapers published after 1922, but the CHNC can digitize beyond 1922 if publisher permission can be secured.