National Archives at Denver

Frequently Requested Archival Holdings

This is a list of the frequently requested archival holdings maintained in the Archives Division of the National Archives at Denver.

U.S. Food Administration:
In the records of the U.S. Food Administration, for example, a researcher can examine the effects of food rationing on communities in Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming during WWI. Included are letters from private citizens reporting their neighbors for violating the "Meatless Monday" edicts or for hoarding sugar. To get a real flavor of the times, try one of the "meatless, wheatless, sweetless" recipes prepared by the Food Administration.

U.S. District Courts:
Our records of the U.S. District Courts include bankruptcy, civil, and criminal case files and related dockets from most of the states in our region from approximately 1860 to 1960. Early bankruptcy cases may tell a historian what goods were carried by a bankrupt drygoods store in a frontier community in New Mexico. Genealogists may find an ancestor's naturalization records. Attorneys frequently use these records in researching precedent cases. Represented in these cases are stagecoach robbers, madams, polygamists, bootleggers, homesteaders, ranchers, Indians, railroads barons, murderers (including Billy the Kid), miners--in fact, the whole range of characters, notorious and ordinary, who helped settle the West.

Of related interest are our holdings from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which contain records of cases appealed from U.S. District Courts in Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming.

Bureau of Land Management:
The records of the Bureau of Land Management (formerly the General Land Office) provide information for a wide range of researchers. A genealogist may use the land office tract books, abstract books, and land entry case files to learn about an ancestor's homestead in Montana; a historian may use the same type records to study settlement patterns in South Dakota. Township survey plats in many cases were the first accurate, detailed maps of the West and show the terrain as it was perceived over a century ago. Correspondence of both the land office officials and the surveyors general illuminate some of the problems of trying to tame the frontier. Our Bureau of Land Management records relating to the Civilian Conservation Corps may be of interest to those who participated in that early conservation effort.

Bureau of Indian Affairs:
Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs are our holdings most used by historians. These records document the federal government's relations with Indians during the approximate period 1875-1950, ranging from the Blackfeet in Montana to the Pueblos of New Mexico. These are records created or received by the Indian agent or other officials on the reservations. Included are: correspondence and annual reports of the agent to his superiors in Washington discussing the overall operation of the agency; reports by the agency head teacher discussing progress in educating the children in white culture; reports by the agency farmer concerning his efforts to turn the Indians into farmers; and reports by the agency physician concerning the Indians' health. Also included are records concerning the issuance of annuity goods, land allotments, supplies, finances, censuses, and much more.

Bureau of Reclamation:
The Bureau of Reclamation is responsible for planning, building, and operating projects throughout the West to reclaim arid land through irrigation. The records we hold include correspondence, project histories, and general records filed under the agency's decimal classification system. We also hold over 100,000 photographs that show the projects during construction and also show the land before and after irrigation began. These records come from all the western states rather than just the states within our region.

Denver Mint:
The Denver Mint was established in 1862 when the federal government bought the privately owned Clark and Gruber Mint. During the first few decades of its existence the Mint's operations were limited to assaying, smelting, and refining precious metals. The records we hold include correspondence, assaying records, and records of deposits of bullion. Included in the correspondence is an interesting series of reports concerning and 1864 robbery of the Mint in which an employee absconded with about $37,000 in bullion and notes.

Internal Revenue Service:
Business historians and genealogists might be interested in examining records of the Internal Revenue Service. We hold monthly tax assessment lists from Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming, ca. 1873-1917.

Forest Service:
The Forest Service is responsible for promoting conservation and the best uses of national forests and grasslands. We hold land classification records from many national forests in our region; records concerning Forest Service Civilian Conservation Corps camps in Colorado; and "historical files" concerning the histories of many national forests in Colorado, Nebraska, and Wyoming.

We also hold about 60,000 rolls of microfilm, most of which are copies of original records held in the National Archives in Washington, DC. Please ask one of our staff members if you want more information about our microfilm.