New and Improved Western History/Blair-Caldwell Website Coming Soon!

Posted by James Rogers on August 13, 2014 at 03:51PM

  • Coming soon!

There are some big changes coming to the Denver Public Library Western History/Genealogy Department and Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library websites. First off, the two websites will be combined for easier access and navigation. Second, a unique collaborative relationship between support staff and public service staff helped us to connect ideas and create innovative digital services.

Here are some highlights of those services that you can look forward to…

  • Content is created by WHG/BCAARL staff
  • The Research section has two main parts that focus on our primary source material and reference services – digital and in-library and how to access them.
  • Research Guides – topic based guides will give an overview of our digital and in-library resources for that topic including related resources, multimedia, and search boxes.
  • Research Access and Services – how to access the actual materials, planning for your visit, videos about using our special collections in the actual space and contact information.
  • The Denver section of the site provides a fun and engaging interactive experience for using our resources.
  • Interactive layered historical maps that illustrate the depth of our neighborhood’s histories via our collections.
  • Inspiring tutorials designed tell the story of discovering your house history.
  • Neighborhood History Guides that integrate valuable research content from the CYC site with the rich content and services of the Library.
  • The Genealogy section combines user friendliness and world class resources that will get beginners hooked and will feed those experienced genealogists with additional discoveries.
  • The Photos section will have a collection of Galleries that are created by staff and organized by topic and also include other photo research services and resources.
  • Staff will use the galleries to add depth and character to exhibits, blog posts, Research Guides, Neighborhood History Guides and Tutorials.
  • The About section provides customers with a centralized location for a calendar of events fed from the main site, online exhbits, information on how to use the Library, and Awards.
  • BCAARL – a distinctive section of the site for this special user group includes all of DPL’s relevant resources and services giving our customers greater understanding of what we offer as a whole while emphasizing those topics related to BCAARL and highlighting community events at that Branch.
  • Improved search-ability of our unique Indexes.
  • Newsletter and coordinated social networking.

As you can see, this is a major re-design of the WHG/BCL website. It will be rolled out the beginning of September and we can’t wait for you to see it. We hope it will provide you with improved research capabilities, improved searching, great blogs, and just plain fun browsing!

from Western History and Genealogy Blog
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webtrees Vytux suite of add-ons – replacing kiwitrees simpl add-ons

Posted by Jeff VoVillia on July 26, 2014 at 12:15PM

For webtrees users there’s often the question of whether to customize or not. Anybody that has used webtrees for longer than a year may side on NOT customizing simply because of the hassle of updating and making sure any add-on’s are compatible with new versions of webtrees.

Prior to the new 1.5 webtrees series we had kiwi and his suite of add-on’s called “simple add-on’s”. And they were indeed quite simple. I found quite a few of them very useful. Particularly the ‘simpl menu’ and ‘simpl gallery’ although there were many others.

Unfortunately Kiwi has split from the project and no longer updates his add-on’s to support webtrees 1.5 and up. They are still available if you have an older version of webtrees.

But do not fret, another volunteer programmer has stepped in to help us out. The vytux suite of add-on’s are basically what kiwi had done except that are compatible with the 1.5 and up versions of webtrees. His site is here. I’ve been a slacker and haven’t looked at my site for awhile but when I did I realized that there was no link to this blog! I have a link from the blog to my database but not the other way around – it was a one-way street. I simply downloaded the vytux menu2, uploaded to my server and checked the right boxes. It was that easy.

There are many other customizations, themes, etc. However, unless you’re computer savvy or quite experienced with webtrees I highly recommend starting out with the basics and just learning the multitude of what webtrees has to offer. Once you get comfortable with the basic layout, you can start to experiment with add-ons.

My current favorite add-on is the facebook login module. And although there are many discussions on reports and graphical outputs I’d like to see that improved. Afterall, if we’re going to have the best web-based family history software online then why not have it contain the best of everything? Customized color-coded pedigrees, fan charts etc.

What add-on’s have you used and enjoyed? What add-on’s would you like to see added to webtrees?

Happy Hunting!

from The webtrees Genealogist
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Dalies Frantz: Denver’s Titan of the Keyboard

Posted by Katie on July 23, 2014 at 12:41PM

Concert program, Denver, February 10, 1936. WH305
Article on Frantz, Sunday Boston Globe Magazine, 1927. WH305
Frantz at Denver's Union Station with Ruth Ellen Dodds, circa 1922. WH305

Long before the days of American Idol, Denver boasted its own musical virtuoso, Dalies Frantz. 

Frantz was born in 1908 in Lafayette, Colorado, the son of William Henry Frantz and Amalia Lueck Frantz (a performing soprano). Dalies grew up in Denver in a home at 760 Downing Street, where he began playing piano at age seven. Studying under teacher Blanche Dingley-Mathews, Frantz was considered a prodigy by age nine. At age 14, Frantz won a first place in a statewide piano contest conducted by the Charles E. Wells Music Company. He then studied at the Huntington Preparatory School in Boston, where he became captain of the swimming team, breaking several New England freestyle swim records.

In 1926, Frantz won a scholarship with the Julliard Foundation in New York City and was taken under the wing of famous concert pianist and teacher Guy Maier at the University of Michigan. After Frantz received a bachelor of music degree in 1930, he traveled to Europe to study with legendary pianists Artur Schnabel and Vladimir Horowitz. Frantz returned to the US, debuting with the New York Philharmonic in 1932 and the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1934. Shortly thereafter, he was signed by Columbia Concerts Corporation and traveled nationwide giving recitals and making appearances with several major American orchestras. Frantz returned to the University of Michigan to continue his musical studies. He married Martha King of Detroit in 1934; five years later, they divorced.

Frantz’s notoriety and good looks landed him a contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), and he starred in three pictures: Sweethearts (1938), Balalaika (1939), and I Take This Woman (1940). He was scheduled to play the soundtrack in a biopic about Frédéric Chopin (A Song to Remember), but the film was postponed by the onset of World War II. During the War, Frantz served briefly as an intelligence officer, but was discharged early due to medical issues.

Beginning in 1943, Frantz joined the faculty at the University of Texas Department of Music. In addition to teaching, Frantz played war-bond concerts and toured. Two months after playing Carnegie Hall in December 1945, Frantz collapsed and was hospitalized for nearly a year. Poor health would continue to plague him in the years thereafter.

Frantz continued to teach and write until his death in Austin, Texas, on December 1, 1965.

Dalies Frantz’s scrapbook (WH305) of correspondence, photos, recital programs, and newspaper clippings is available for research in DPL’s Western History/Genealogy department.

from Western History and Genealogy Blog
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Camp Amache

Posted by James Rogers on July 19, 2014 at 03:48PM

Camp Amache

WHG Intern Kayla O’Grady is our Guest Writer!

Kayla O’Grady is a history intern from the University of Colorado-Denver, working in WHG this summer on various projects. She put together a very interesting exhibit about Camp Amache in our monthly rotating exhibit case. Please read her blog describing the origins of the camp, then come in and check it out! It will be on display until the beginning of August.

Kayla O’Grady: 

“World War II is a crucial component of modern history discourse. Major discussions about WWII involve the actual fighting itself; however, there are plenty of aspects other than combat that make the story of WWII a fascinating and important part of world history. While the war encompassed lands far and wide, did you know that the state of Colorado itself played a prominent role during WWII? After President
Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, Camp Amache, located in southeastern Colorado, housed nearly 8,000 people of Japanese descent during the large campaign known as internment. Under Japanese Internment, the United States military was authorized to remove any person of Japanese descent forcibly from their homes on the West coast after fears of another Pearl Harbor-like attack sparked
national outcry for Japanese detention and removal.

Learn more for yourself by coming to the Western History and Genealogy Department at the Denver Public Library. For more information about Camp Amache, be sure to visit our exhibit case and/or speak with our knowledgeable librarians about available resources to aid your learning.”

from Western History and Genealogy Blog
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It was “Take Your Daughter to the Library” week…

Posted by Cari Taplin on July 17, 2014 at 10:15AM

Ellie at a microfilm reader in the FHL

Ellie at a microfilm reader in the FHL

At the beginning of June, I took my 11-year-old daughter to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City for a week of genealogical research. We had a great time. She’s short (not having started the sprouting up process yet) and cute and blonde and very into fashion. She is also very quick and has an analytical mind. She very quickly learned how to find microfilm, load the film (although she was about 1 inch too short but insisted on doing it herself anyway), be able to read the old handwriting enough to recognize the page numbers and surnames we were looking for, load the film on the scanner, resize, focus, adjust contrast, spot-edit, and scan to the flash drive. She learned all that on the first day and after I could see she knew what she was doing, I gave her films and lists and set her on her way. She did VERY well. I was happily surprised. We spent 2 days working on scanning all of the deeds for one family line and their collaterals.

The staff people at the library just loved her! They’d offer help but she quickly demonstrated that she knew what she was doing and even helped other patrons as the week went on. The scanning section has a tall desk in the middle where you stand to scan and then seated scanners along the perimeter. When she was at a standing scanner, she was a little short (but still able to work the machinery). About mid-week they found her a stool and would bring it out for her when she came up to the scanners. On Friday of our week there, the Family History Library staff asked if they could have someone interview my daughter. She was great! Loved having the photos taken, loved talking to the couple who came to interview us. You can read the article here: Family History Blog.

The week spent with my daughter taught me a few things:

  • My daughter is VERY independent. I mean I knew that before, but now that she actually CAN do things herself (as opposed to when she was 3 and really did need some help) she really wants to and will get mad if you try to help her too much.
  • Too much of even good things can be bad. We made sure to take breaks. While some of us adults can sit in a library for many, many hours on end, we should not necessarily do so. We packed a lunch everyday and instead of eating in the lunch room, we sat on a bench in Temple Square. And about 2 or 3 in the afternoon we took a walk to the Starbucks. Walking and sunshine can really wake up your brain (not to mention the coffee). We also quit working at 6 or 7 pm which I know is sacrilege to some of you die-hard researchers, and if it weren’t for my daughter I’d probably have stayed until closing too, but we also spent time in our room making dinner, watching movies and resting. All good things.
  • To do genealogy with young people, you have to remember what it was like to be a kid. While my daughter did help me a whole bunch, she also spent a fair amount of time playing “Plants Vs. Zombies” on her iPad, reading a book and knitting. Since she doesn’t quite understand what a deed can mean for research, she understands what it is at a high level and finds it completely boring. But when we found those names on a plat map and I could point to a section and say “And this was where great-grandpa and great-grandma’s farm was” (Great-grandma is still alive, kicking, traveling and my kids will remember her), she was very interested. Kids are about the stories.
  • And kids are about the technology. The fact that she got to run a scanning computer all week, handle films and all of that, kept her interested.

I am so grateful that I had the chance to take that trip with my daughter. Someday she might not want to go to the library or would rather hang out with her friends instead of me, but that day is not here yet. Until then, I will be planning next year’s trip!

Filed under: Genealogical Education, Research Trips, With Kids Tagged: Family History Library, genealogy with kids, Salt Lake City

from Genealogy Pants
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Fictitious Entries – Hunting for Paper Towns

Posted by Hannah on July 17, 2014 at 11:17AM

How to Lie with Maps
1971 Boulder County
Fictitious Mount Richard

One perk of my job is that I’m constantly learning new things, usually thanks to being asked questions by library users. This week I had a really fun interaction that started with one of my favorite reference questions to date!

A summer writing camp group from the Metro Denver Promotion of Letters came to WH/G to talk about adventure and survival writing. These young women looked at and discussed historic maps, photos, and books of early Denver and Colorado to get a sense of setting for their writing. As the group was settling in to use our resources, one participant asked a question that I loved, “Are there any known paper towns in Colorado?” After a “Yay for John Green!” moment, we got down to the business of hunting for local paper towns.

Paper towns, made more well-known by author John Green’s novel of the same name, are a cartographer’s trick to deter copyright infringement of their work. The idea is that a cartographer will deliberately add a fictitious entry, be it a paper town, a trap street, or other cartographer’s folly, to a particular map. Then, if he sees his unique fake landmark used on another cartographer’s map, he will know that his work was stolen.

It took some searching, but this young writer and I were able to locate Mark Monmonier’s How to Lie with Maps, which gives several examples of these fictitious entries, including one right here in Colorado! Interestingly, in the early 1970s, a fake mountain peak appeared on some Boulder County maps. Mount Richard was on these maps for at least two years before being discovered, and is likely the work of Boulder County draftsman named Richard Ciacci. Whether Richard was trying to protect his work or just wanted a mountain named after him remains unknown.

Since the Western History/Genealogy department has multiple Boulder County maps, we started digging to find some from the 1970s. Jackpot! We found a Boulder County road map from 1971 with the fake Mt. Richard in the southwest corner of the county, right along the continental divide.

Whether you are interested in maps, Colorado history, John Green books, or just random trivia, this great question by a local youth led us to an awesome discovery. Thanks to all our visitors for taking us on daily adventures and teaching us something new.

from Western History and Genealogy Blog
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Found In The Archives: Baby Shoes for Hilda, 1898

Posted by Katie on July 09, 2014 at 05:04PM

Baby shoes, box, and note card, 1898. From May-D & F Records (C MSS WH222)
May Co., Denver, between 1900 and 1910. X-24124
Note card, 1898. From May-D & F Records (C MSS WH222)

Nearly ten years have passed since the May Company department store was sold and its name changed to Macy’s. Back in 1877, the May Company began in Leadville, Colorado. By 1889, a headquarters was built in Denver.

DPL’s Western History/Genealogy Department holds a small collection of the May-D & F records (C MSS WH222). One intriguing item from the collection is a small, white box embossed in gold lettering with the words “Baby’s Box.” Written on the box’s cover is: “To Hilda, 1898.”

Inside are two well-preserved leather baby shoes and a note card that reads:

Please accept the accompanying pair of shoes with our best wishes for a long and happy life to baby and mother. When baby grows older and needs more shoes, we shall be pleased to furnish them.

Sincerely yours,

The May, Shoe Department, 16th and Lawrence Streets

While the May Company “Baby’s Box” was a kind gesture to Hilda (whomever she was—daughter of a May employee? VIP customer?), it was also a marketing message that declared May had wares for customers of all ages. This came at a time when children’s clothing was still primarily homemade—it would be another 20 years before a children’s apparel industry would develop in the United States.

While the Western History/Genealogy Department doesn’t have an extensive shoe collection, check out our other treasures at!

from Western History and Genealogy Blog
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1964 class photo poster found

Posted by ahoverst on July 15, 2014 at 11:55AM

1964 class photo poster

Happy 40th Reunion! 

Recently two researchers came to the Library to gather information for their upcoming Saint Luke’s School of Nursing, 40th class reunion. We helped them find photographs of the former nursing school located on the (now) Presbyterian St. Luke’s Medical Center campus in Denver. But we hit the jackpot when we found a poster with portraits of ALL their classmates in the archives collection – they were thrilled!  How on earth did they keep those little nurse’s caps from falling off?!

Happy 40th Anniversary Class of 1964!

from Western History and Genealogy Blog
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History Colorado Ticket Giveaway!

Posted by Hannah on July 13, 2014 at 11:12AM

History Colorado Ticket Giveaway!

Want a FREE admission ticket to History Colorado?

Stop in to DPL’s Western History/Genealogy Department (Central Library, Level 5) now through Monday, July 14, and take a photo with the Time Travel Trunk—a fun space on wheels where you can dress up in old-timey accessories, use a working telegraph kit, play with American Girl dolls and more!

Share your photo on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram with the tag #DPLTrunk and receive one FREE admission to History Colorado when you show your shared photo to staff at the Western History/Genealogy reference desk. (One per household, while supplies last.)

from Western History and Genealogy Blog
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The Lillybridges Of Summer

Posted by R Metz on July 10, 2014 at 04:51PM


Simple Pleasures, When Denver was a Quiet Little Town

School’s out ~ time to dig some worms and go fishing, or have a picnic in City Park, or just a shady stroll along the Platte. A summer day in 1915 was so much more peaceful than it is today. The people in these pictures are not stuck in traffic, or frantically checking their mobile devices for the latest tweet, or working 10 hour days to pay off some huge debt. Life in 1915 was not trouble free, but a look at some of these images is a peek into a time when people’s troubles were at least a little smaller.

Charles Lillybridge, who billed himself as a “Scenic Photographer,” took pictures of people almost exclusively, and these are just a few of his subjects.

Lillybridge’s studio, which was also his house, was a makeshift structure more akin to a shed. It was built right next to the Platte River, by the Alameda Avenue bridge. Especially in the days when flooding was a frequent event, that was the cheapest real estate in town. Despite the obvious lack of money, Charles Lillybridge dedicated himself to taking photographs, of whatever he could, and at any opportunity.

Lillybridge’s often crystal clear glass plate negatives provide candid and un-posed images of ordinary people, and zooming into the images in our database can yield some wonderful, detailed close-ups of faces that are both familiar and incredibly remote. It’s interesting to actually think of our database as a kind of “time machine,” that allows users to get a taste of the world that was – a world of bare feet, dirt paths, creaky wood floors, quiet streets, and something really difficult to find today: innocence.

from Western History and Genealogy Blog
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