Historical Research & Writing


I have been writing for the Boulder Daily Camera since 1977, starting with historical features, as well as a food column. From 1984 to 1988, I wrote historical features for the Longmont Times-Call. From 1996-1998, I wrote a history column for the Boulder Planet. During this time, I also contributed to the Coloradan (the University of Colorado's alumni magazine) and have freelanced for a number of national and international publications from the California Mining Journal and Evidence Technology Magazine to the British magazine Cornish World.

In 1998, I returned to the Camera as history columnist. Compilations of some of my history columns are in my books Only in Boulder: The County’s Colorful Characters and Boulder: A Sense of Time and Place Revisited (see Books page). I still write a history column for the Camera, sharing the position with long-time friend and colleague Carol Taylor.

Below are links to a couple of my recent history columns.

Dr. Luman Giffin, shown here with a class dissecting a cadaver, was head of the CU Medical School in Boulder from 1896 to 1907.

CU Medical School Started, But Didn’t Stay, in Boulder

Camera, February 11, 2018

In 1882, when the University of Colorado graduated its first class, only six students made it to commencement. Even so, university president Joseph Sewall was determined to start a medical school on the Boulder campus. ..… Read more

CU Medical School

This photo of the 1200 block of Pearl St. is the oldest-known photo of Boulder.

Detailed look at earliest-known photo of Boulder

Camera, August 27,, 2017
Lots of photos exist from Boulder's early days, including many taken by Joseph B. Sturtevant between 1884 and 1910. However, an 1866 photo of Pearl Street clearly bears his name, and it wasn't taken by him at all.

On March 20, 1889, the editor of the Boulder County Herald wrote, "In the rubbish, at a second-hand store, Joseph Sturtevant found an old photograph which he would not sell for $20. It was taken in Boulder in 1866.” Sturtevant re-photographed the image, then wrote his name on his own glass plate negative. Although his action confuses today's historians, the prolific photographer did us a service by allowing us to peer into the past. Read more

Boulder’s Oldest Photo

Oil derrick left of farmhouse likely added to photo.

Early photographer Joseph B. Sturtevant likely altered images

Camera, January 14,, 2018

Most people know better than to believe everything they see. This is especially true today when alterations to photos can easily be done on computers and electronic devices. Who would have thought that Joseph Bevier Sturtevant, one of Boulder’s most prolific photographers more than a century ago, appears to have made changes to some of his own images? From 1884 to 1910, Sturtevant, also known as “Rocky Mountain Joe,” took photos of nearly everything and everyone in the Boulder, Colorado, area. Years ago, a librarian at the Carnegie Branch Library for Local History, in Boulder revealed a startling discovery involving two of Sturtevant’s photos..… Read more

Sturtevant - altered photos

The “CU” on the third Flatiron was visible between 1949 and 1980.
Flatirons long have been used for messages

Camera, November 19, 2017
Words and images on Boulder's mountain backdrop are nothing new. Both the Third Flatiron (third crag south of Flagstaff Mountain) and Flagstaff Mountain itself have been used for nearly a century as gigantic billboards capable of projecting messages as far as the eye can see.

Most have been controversial, with the exception of the Flagstaff star, which has weathered the passage of time .…. Read more

Flatirons for Messages

Edward Baker’s grave has finally has been recognized, as documented in the Buffalo Soldier story. Below, in the first row, are a few photos from October 11, 2016 when members of the Buffalo Soldier Organization assisted Jack Box in setting the stone.

When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.
Sherlock Holmes (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)

Long-term missing persons
Unidentified remains
Cold case homicides
Boulder County, Colorado, history