May 2013 - Collection volunteer Francisco Rios recently retired after 12 years of stellar volunteer work in our division. Here Francisco tells us about his time with our division.
Tell us a little about yourself and how you became a volunteer for History Colorado.
In the spring of 2000, I retired from the University of Colorado at Denver after 30 years as a Spanish professor. For ten of those years, I was chair of the Department of Modern Languages. In the fall of 2000, I began volunteering in the Books and Manuscripts Department at History Colorado (then the Colorado Historical Society) and worked there for twelve years.
What types of projects have you worked on as a volunteer?
Over the years I've inventoried 35 collections, including Anti-Olympics (MSS #735), Keebler Cookies (MSS #1885), Governor Ed Johnson (MSS #347), Elitch Theatre Programs (MSS #2148 and MSS #1364), and Colorado and New Mexico Land Grants (MSS #374). The latter collection I examined hopefully, but unfortunately found no ancestors with vast land holdings or thousands of sheep.
Tell us about a favorite project that you worked on or a collection item that you discovered.
Early on, I didn't inventory so much as revel in the beautiful Elitch Gardens Architectural Drawings. The renderings of the rides, the sluices and boats, the animals and people, and the elevations of the ticket booths along 38th Avenue are an artistic and historical treasure.
During the year and a half that I worked on the Tabor Collection (MSS 614), I came to know and admire all the Tabors. Their correspondence reveals so much about them--Horace, Lily, Silver Dollar, and even the secretive Lizzie, popularly known as "Baby Doe." They'll always be my friends, which is why I periodically visit Horace and Lizzie's gravesite at Mount Olivet Cemetery.
For me, the essence of volunteering at History Colorado was not what I did, but what I learned about Colorado and the larger-than-life figures still alive in the collections.
Francisco Armando Rios
Click here to learn more about becoming a History Colorado volunteer, or contact our Volunteer office at 303-866-3961.
Contact the Library
Stephen H. Hart Library and Research Center
History Colorado Center
Denver, CO 80203