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This guide provides print, online, and local resources for historical research.

Frequently Asked Question

What's the difference between websites/web searches and library databases?

1.  Generally, websites and library databases both can contain:

  • scholarly information (such as facts, scholarly essays, research results, and research reports), and
  • non-scholarly information (such as popular opinion and guesswork).

NOTE: Researchers should take the time to verify research results by checking several other reliable sources before using it or acting on it. (See more about how to determine what types of sources are credible at PPLD's LibGuide on Information and Media Literacy here.)

2.  Library databases do not generally use natural language to search, but use specialized wording and symbols. One of the benefits of using library databases is that they give more precise results than websites or web searches, which may include duplicate or irrelevant results.

3.  In addition, library databases contain content that is sometimes only available by paying for it. The library pays for access to that information on behalf of the community it serves.

4.  Online web searches often do use natural language, but the results may not be exactly what a researcher is looking for.

5.  The order of an online result list is also often based on the priorities of the companies who offer the search (usually at no out-of-pocket cost), rather than the priorities of the researcher.  

For a more detailed discussion of researching best practices, see PPLD's LibGuide on Information and Media Literacy here.

Colorado History Featured in PPLD's Collection

Military Matters: Defense, Development, & Dissent in the Pikes Peak Region

A collection of essays exploring the military influence on Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak Region.

Colorado Springs: The Way It Was

This series features a look back at Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak Region through the eyes of filmmakers over several decades. Includes vintage footage produced by the Alexander Film Company.

Forgotten Colorado: The Eastern Plains

Forgotten Colorado: The Eastern Plains explores this often ignored and underappreciated part of the state. Known as the agricultural center of Colorado, this region was once a thriving area for farmers, ranchers, and railroad workers. Over time, temperature extremes, dismal precipitation, high winds, and unfortunate events like the Dust Bowl have led to the gradual depopulation of the Eastern Plains. Today, history and relics from those early glory years can be found all over the region, if you know where to look.

Forgotten Colorado: The Eastern Plains brings to light and exposes historic schools where class is out forever; the largest track of dinosaur footprints in North America; the site of one of the worst air show disasters in U.S. history; an entire railroad ghost town, complete with an underground shelter; the location of a brutal U.S. Army conflict that required eating horses for survival; a place where carnival rides go to rust in Colorado when they are retired from service; a deserted town originally established as an African American agricultural colony; and much, much, more. Get ready to see a side Colorado you have never seen before!

The Woolly West: Colorado's Hidden History of Sheepscapes

In The Woolly West, historian Andrew Gulliford describes the sheep industry's place in the history of Colorado and the American West. Tales of cowboys and cattlemen dominate western history--and even more so in popular culture. But in the competition for grazing lands, the sheep industry was as integral to the history of the American West as any trail drive. The Woolly West is the first book in decades devoted to the sheep industry and breaks new ground in the history of the Colorado Basque, Greek, and Hispano shepherding families whose ranching legacies continue to the present day.

Colorado: A History in Photographs

From Colorado's Native American legacy and raucous early mining days to its emergence as the embodiment of "America the Beautiful," the state's rough-and-tumble history has been richly documented by numerous photographers. Their images -- from the mid-1800s through the 1950s -- serve as a "magic eye" with which to view Colorado's past, and provide a glimpse of how our predecessors shaped the present we experience today.

Colorado, A History in Photographs presents an extraordinary visual journey through time -- perfect as a fascinating review of the Centennial State's heritage or as a fond remembrance of bygone days.

Trinidad - Transgender Frontier

Edifying and intimate, Trinidad acquaints viewers with three extraordinary transwomen whose paths cross in an unlikely setting—the unassuming town of Trinidad, Colorado. Against the backdrop of the town’s history of transgender surgery, Trinidad invokes the passions and gender politics of these three individuals as they search for a place of empowerment and belonging.

Colorado: A History of the Centennial State

Since 1976 newcomers and natives alike have learned about the rich history of the magnificent place they call home from Colorado: A History of the Centennial State. In this revised edition, co-authors Carl Abbott, Stephen J. Leonard, and Thomas J. Noel incorporate more than a decade of new events, findings, and insights about Colorado in an accessible volume that general readers and students will enjoy. The fourth edition tells of conflicts, new alliances, and changing ways of life as Hispanic, European, and African American settlers flooded into a region that was already home to Native Americans. Providing balanced coverage of the entire state's history - from Grand Junction to Lamar and from Trinidad to Craig - the authors also reveal how Denver and its surrounding communities developed and gained influence. While continuing to elucidate the significant impact of mining, agriculture, manufacturing, and tourism on Colorado, this edition broadens its coverage. The authors expand their discussion of the twentieth century with several new chapters on the economy, politics, and cultural conflicts of recent years. In addition, they address changes in attitudes toward the natural environment as well as the contributions of women, Hispanics, African Americans, and Asian Americans to the state. Dozens of new illustrations, updated statistics, and an extensive bibliography of the most recent research on Colorado history enhance this edition.

Colorado City History Through the Eyes of The Iris

Colorado City, founded in 1859 in the Kansas Territory, was a pivotal town as the first successful settlement in today's El Paso County, Colorado. The Civil War was about to divide the nation, expansion West was on the horizon and the turn of the century was getting closer. Colorado City residents would live through some of the fastest changes in our nation; industrialization, women's rights, wars and the ever-growing desire to rid the nation of alcohol. The Colorado City Iris began publication in 1889. In those early days of Colorado City, the newspaper was the pulse of the city, informing citizens of news from the far reaches of the world, from the nation, around Colorado and the local home town. Colorado City History Through the Eyes of the Iris, provides a way to travel back in time to meet the residents and share the lives, loves and events that shaped Colorado City.

More Than Petticoats: Remarkable Colorado Women

Discover 13 extraordinary women from Colorado's past, including Martha Maxwell, one of the first female naturalists and taxidermists; Chipeta, a charismatic Ute Indian leader; and Sister Blandina Segale, a nun who befriended Billy the Kid.

A Tenderfoot In Colorado

A Tenderfoot in Colorado is R. B. Townshend's classic account of his time in the wild frontier territory known as Colorado. Townshend arrived in the Rockies in 1869, fresh from Cambridge, England, with $300 in his pockets.

He found friends among some of Colorado's more colorful characters, people who taught him much about life on the frontier. Jake Chisolm taught him how to shoot after rescuing him from two men preparing to skin him at poker. Wild Bill of Colorado taught him the meaning of "the drop" and warned him against wearing a gun in town unless he wanted trouble. Capturing the Western vernacular more accurately than any other writer, Townshend includes vivid details of life in the West, where he killed a buffalo, prospected for gold, and was present for the official government conference with the Ute Indians after gold was discovered on their lands.

African American Women of the Old West

The brave pioneers who made a life on the frontier were not only male--and they were not only white. The story of African-American women in the Old West is one that has largely gone untold until now. The stories of ten African-American women are reconstructed from historic documents found in century-old archives. Some of these women were slaves, some were free, and some were born into slavery and found freedom in the old west. They were laundresses, freedom advocates, journalists, educators, midwives, business proprietors, religious converts, philanthropists, mail and freight haulers, and civil and social activists. These hidden historical figures include Biddy Mason, a slave who fought for her family's freedom; Elizabeth Thorn Scott Flood, a teacher determined to educate black children and aid them in leading better lives; and the mysterious Mary Ellen Pleasant, a civil rights crusader and savvy businesswoman. Even in the face of racial prejudice, these unsung heroes never gave up hope for a brighter future.

Distant Bugles, Distant Drums

Looks at the epic march of 1,000 men recruited from Colorado's towns, farms, and mining camps to fight 3,000 Confederate soldiers in New Mexico. This book tells the stories of Union heroes such as Colorado governor William Gilpin and Colonels John Slough, John Chivington, Kit Carson, and Edward Canby, along with average soldiers.

Colorado History Databases & Recommended Websites

Resources at PPLD's Regional History & Genealogy department, in the 1905 Carnegie Library (located in the Penrose Library)

Research resources located in El Paso County, Colorado.

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