Women’s Suffrage in Colorado: 1893 and Carrie Chapman Catt

Post written by Jenny Hannifin, Archive Assistant.

Women’s Suffrage in Colorado: 1893 and Carrie Chapman Catt

In 1893, it was Carrie Chapman Catt’s  turn to help Colorado women earn  the right to vote.  
National Archives: Carrie Chapman Catt Papers: Miscellany; Photographs; 1890 – 1920.

  • “In the midst of a severe economic depression [the Panic of 1893,  a depression not matched again until the 1930], the rallying cry of  ‘Let the Women Vote!’ was heard from Denver to Durango.”  (Brochure, 1893-1993: Colorado Suffrage CentennialLocal History Archive vertical file, LC – Civil Rights – Women’s Suffrage)  

In our first Women’s Suffrage in Colorado blog we looked at events leading up to the failed attempt to grant women’s suffrage in Colorado in 1877, and Susan B Anthony’s time in Colorado. In this post we will learn about Carrie Chapman Catt’s time in Colorado, and a happier outcomewomen’s suffrage achieved in 1893. 

In Colorado in 1893, after decades of work by suffragists across the country, enfranchisement efforts ramped up again. Denverite Ellis Meredith travelled to the World’s Fair in Chicago to convince Susan B Anthony to return to Colorado for a second try at enfranchisementThis time around, Colorado suffragists were linking women’s right to vote to equal rights, rather than to temperance (Suffrage: Women’s Long Battle for the Vote, Ellen C. Dubois: Simon & Schuster, 2020; p 135).  

  • Ellis Meredith … was both a married woman and a professional journalist, a combination difficult to imagine just a few years before. … She preferred to be called Ellis Meredith, a gender-neutral first name of her own invention and the last name she was born with. In 1893 she was already a journalist for the Rocky Mountain News. (Dubois page 133) 

Convinced by Meredith, Susan B Anthony sent to Colorado a rising young star of the movement named Carrie Chapman Catt (learn more about Catt here) 

  • Carrie Lane Chapman Catt spoke at Opera House in Fort Collins “very near to election time” (Triangle ReviewNovember 12, 1980, page 1)  
  • “One is hard pressed to find any unfavorable coverage of either Chapman’s meetings or the referendum in general. It is certainly a far different atmosphere than during the 1877 campaign.” (History Colorado, link above) 

The final vote on November 7, 1893, was 55% in favor of suffrage and 45% against. “Equal suffrage, women’s enfranchisement, won in Colorado and won strongly.” (Dubois page 137).  

Caption: Margaret Portner, pictured here, believes her mother’s scrapbook contains pictures of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B Anthony (ColoradoanAugust 23, 1978). Image: T03153  

1919-1920: The Nineteenth Amendment 

Suffrage Follows Lady Liberty Eastward 

The Awakening: Hy [Henry] Mayer. Puck, vol. 77, no. 1981 (February 20, 1915). Library of Congress 0312.00.00 

When the national suffrage campaign was waged in 1919, Colorado was helpful – but only after persistent negotiating by Coloradan suffragists 

In Colorado, where women had been voting for a quarter of a century, Republican governor Oliver Henry Shoup, considered to be a long-standing friend of suffrage, was one of those who refused to call a special legislative session to ratify. … If suffragists insisted, the governor said they would have to pay all expenses … Suffragists’ counteroffer was to serve as ‘stenographers, pages and clerical help’ without pay. In mid-June, Shoup accepted and announced he would call a special session.” (Dubois, page 259) 

Carrie Chapman Catt came west again, spending three days in fall 1919 in Denver, and pleading with Coloradans to vote for those who didn’t have the right yet. Governor Shoup called a special session, and on December 12, both houses of the Colorado legislature passed the bill, to no opposition (Dubois, page 260).  

On August 26, 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment became part of the constitution.  

  • “Women have suffered agony of soul which you can never comprehend, that you and your daughters might inherit political freedom. That vote has been costly. Prize it!” – Carrie Chapman Catt, 1920 

It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t fast 

In both 1877 and 1893, not everyone supported the movement:   

  • “Housewives! You do not need the ballot to clean out your sink spout.” (Fence Post, August 9, 1993, referring to “one of the leaflets of the day”) 
  • In Fort Collins, [female faculty member] Alice Curtis impressed young students like Justus Wilkinson with her accounts of chaining herself to posts in the battle for the suffrage amendment.” (Fort Collins Yesterdays p. 237) 

And after national suffrage was achieved in 1920, not a lot of women voted. 

  • “By the first of January 1894, only two Fort Collins women had registered to vote – Miss Grace Patton and Mrs. Jessie West.” (Triangle ReviewNovember 12, 1980, page 1) 
  • Learn more about Grace Patton here and Jessie West here. 

After ratification of the 19th amendment, much remained to accomplish true equalityWives were still economically dependent, women workers were woefully underpaid, and in half the states, women could not even sit on juries. In a future blog, we will look at later movements of the 20th century, particularly in the 1970s, as the women’s struggle for equal rights continued. 

  • “The struggle for women’s suffrage was one that transcended territorial boundaries and state lines. It covered entire generations, and lasted all the way from the American Revolution, through the entire 19th century, and right up until the Roaring Twenties. It was a unifying struggle that brought women, and men, from all across the nation together. (History Colorado). 

When you visit the Archive, here’s a list of local suffrage resources: 

  • LC – Civil Rights – Women’s Suffrage 
  • LC – Organizations – Women – Women’s Christian Temperance Union  
  • LC – Organizations – Women  
  • BIO – Ammons, Theodosia* 
    • Fort Collins Courier, 12/30/1897: The Non-Partizan [sic] Colorado Equal Suffrage Association 
  • LC – Civil Rights – Women’s Movement 
  • BIO – Sabin, Florence Rena 
  • BIO – Thorpe, Violet 


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Women’s Suffrage in Colorado: 1877 and Susan B Anthony

Post written by Jenny Hannifin, Archive Assistant.

Women’s Suffrage in Colorado: 1877 and Susan B Anthony

Susan B Anthony spent a month in Colorado   in fall 1877 dedicating her considerable political  talent to Colorado’s first attempt at voting rights for women.  It failed.   
(Image from U.S. National Archives [?] – used in e-article,  no date or identifier given)

While most of the country celebrates the centennial of women’s suffrage in 2020Coloradans began our celebration decades ago. That’s because women here got the right to vote in 1893. The road to state suffrage took decades of work, suffered several setbacks along the way – and brought luminary Susan B Anthony out West. 

But first – who was first? 

In 1869 Wyoming’s territorial legislature approved equal suffrage. The fact that Wyoming was a territory, not a state, is an important distinction (more on that below) – yet Wyoming’s achievement was important 

  • Ruth Orr says that her grandmother was one of the first “women in the world”   to vote in Wyoming in 1869 (Coloradoan, August 23, 1978).   Ruth discusses these and other suffrage issues in her oral history,   available in the Archive.  

The Colorado state legislature approved the suffrage referendum in January 1893, and male voters in Colorado approved full suffrage for Colorado women on November 7, 1893. Colorado men were the first men of the country to majority vote for female suffrage. Here’s what a few suffragists of the time said: 

  • Susan B Anthony: “The men of Colorado are the best in the world.” (Denver Post, EmpireNovember 20, 1977, page 39; quoting Anthony from May 8, 1895) 
  • Ellis Meredith in a letter to Anthony: “I can’t yet believe it is true—it is too good to be true!” (Suffrage: Women’s Long Battle for the VoteEllen CDubois: Simon & Schuster, 2020138) 

Let’s not forget, however, that Wyoming’s enfranchisement status, territorial though it was, served as an inspiration for the movement.  

  • Over these difficult years, only the women of Wyoming Territory were able to maintain their franchise rights without interruption, joining with men voters when statehood was secured in 1890. At last and at least, somewhere in the United States, women had full and equal voting rights. In Wyoming they could cast their votes for Congress and for president.  (Dubois, p 125) 

1877: Susan B Anthony comes to Colorado 

Colorado territory had not allowed their women at the polls, whereas other territories did (Wyoming Territory passed women’s suffrage on December 1869Utah Territory on February 1870)For the full story on which states can claim what and when regarding women’s right to vote, read this History Colorado article 

When Colorado sought statehood in 1876, suffragists raised the issue again. 

When Colorado Territory laid plans to become a state in time for the nation’s Centennial, local supporters of woman suffrage saw the historical opportunity to come into the union as the first state with full voting rights for women … Local suffragists petitioned the Colorado constitutional Convention, but it resisted … . Instead, Colorado politicians offered a compromise. Starting one year after statehood, a simplified voters’ referendum … could amend the new constitution to allow women the right to vote. Suffragists accepted the offer … “ (Dubois pages 119120) 

The suffragists of the West needed help   “enthusiasm was great, but resources were meager”— but few women from the East wanted to spend time here. “[Lucy Stone] wrote to her daughter that her father thought he could make a better living in Colorado than Boston, but ‘I’d rather be hung than live here.’” (Dubois page 120) 

The intrepid Susan B Anthony spent a month in Colorado in fall 1877 dedicating herself to the cause: 

  • “Anthony .. was a born agitator and an inveterate adventurer, and the call from Colorado proved irresistible. In early September, she arrived in Denver, ready to lecture throughout the state. … With casual fortitude, she rode on a narrow-gauge railroad over a nine-thousand-foot peak to reach a railroad town that was barely three months old.” (Dubois page 121) 
  • Read her diary of 1877 here 

Anthony’s efforts were in vain; the Colorado referendum of 1877 was defeated, for various and complicated reasons, by a margin of two to one (see a good account in Colorado Encyclopedia). It did, however, give Colorado women the right to vote in school elections and to hold school offices. 

As we all know, the fight was far from over. Our next Suffrage in Colorado blog will look at the events of 1893 and beyond. 

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Fourth of July Celebrations in Colorado

Post written by Alex Ballou, Marketing Assistant.

Fourth of July Celebrations in Colorado

Knights of Columbus float in parade in Fourth of July Parade, Denver, Colorado. From Frank McCafferty scrapbook. Circa 1919.


William Clifford “Cliff” Brollier in front of the old Elks Building at the corner of Walnut and Linden Streets, Fort Collins, Colorado. Photo taken during the July 4 Celebration. The photo was donated by Doris (Brollier) Greenacre. Circa 1913.


Festive Fourth: Sara Hunt, Jill Kusa and Emma Payton join hands to dance to the sounds of Liz Masterson and band during Fourth of July events at City Park. Fort Collins, Colorado. Circa 1993.


Japanese men with parasols marching in Fourth of July Parade in Denver, Colorado. From Frank McCafferty scrapbook. Circa 1919.


Fourth of July parade in Denver – two women with parasols in floral decorated car. From Frank McCafferty scrapbook. Circa 1919.


Similar features adorn the miniature Statue of Liberty at City Park and Rocky Mountain High School senior Chris Olson, who wore his hair in “liberty spikes” during the Fourth of July celebration. Fort Collins, Colorado. Circa 1989.


Spectators and runners enjoy the Fourth of July Firecracker Five race near Horsetooth Reservior. (The Triangle Review, 1979/07/08, p.2)


Fireworks stand in semi-truck trailer near Fort Collins, Colorado. Circa 1979.


Local history lives here. Like us on Facebook to see more historical images and artifacts. Archival images are available for research, purchase, and more through the online Fort Collins History Connection website.

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Father’s Day

Post written by Alex Ballou, Marketing Assistant.

Father’s in Fort Collins

Today we honor all Father’s, those in the present and in the past.









Local history lives here. Like us on Facebook to see more historical images and artifacts. Archival images are available for research, purchase, and more through the online Fort Collins History Connection website.

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Daily Discovery: Ghost Signs of Fort Collins!

Post written by Lesley Struc, Curator of the Archive.

Daily Discovery: Ghost Signs of Fort Collins!

A “ghost sign” sounds spooky, but it’s not! It is an old, painted sign on the outside of a building that once advertised things like grocery stores, hotels, and food and drink. They are called “ghosts” because they reflect life in the past; sometimes they are easier to see when the lighting is just right on brick buildings, or when rain brings out their faded colors.

Old Town in Fort Collins features many of these magical old ghost signs. Take a virtual tour of local ghost signs by visiting here!

Then, step into the past by making your own historically inspired ghost sign!


  • Small sponge rectangle (we used the edge of a “magic eraser” but any sponge will work)
  • White paper that takes paint well
  • Red paint (we used washable finger paint)
  • Paper plate for holding paint
  • Pencil and Crayons (bright, contrasting colors work best)
  • Glue stick
  • Newspaper or other scrap paper to protect your work surface
  • Construction paper that is larger than your white paper for mounting the final picture


  1. Lay out a few pieces of scrap paper beneath your white paper to protect your work surface from paint.
  2. Cut the edge of a sponge into a small rectangle (about 1” x 2”) for dipping into the red paint.
  3. Pour some red paint onto the paper plate and dip the sponge, saturating it in the paint.
  4. Start stamping the paper in a brick pattern as shown below.
  5. Let the paint dry completely. The paper may wrinkle a bit while drying, and that is okay!
  6. Sketch out your ghost sign on the bricks lightly in pencil first, then go over your design in crayon. Brighter, contrasting colors show up best on the bricks. Your designs can be inspired by actual signs in Fort Collins, like the Nedley Hotel sign in this example, or you can come up with your own idea, product, or business! (Fun fact: the Nedley Hotel ghost sign can be seen at 130 S. College in Ft. Collins and was painted about 110 years ago! It also had a light above it so it could be seen at night.)
  7. Using a glue stick, adhere your finished sign on a larger piece of construction paper to flatten and frame your art.

Want to download these directions? Click here for a handy PDF!

Follow along with our Daily Discovery! Click here for all activities that you can do at home.

Educational opportunities like this are supported in part by Fort Fund.

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Daily Discovery: Help Make History! / Descubrimiento en casa: ¡Ayuda a hacer historia!

Post written by Heidi Fuhrman, Discovery Camps Coordinator.

Daily Discovery: Help Make History!

Museums are places to learn, play, and discover…and they also have another important job: to collect, save, and share history! FCMoD focuses on the history of Fort Collins and Northern Colorado, and we need your help by telling us your story of living through COVID-19. Learn more below!

Hi, my name is Lesley Struc and I am the Archivist here at FCMoD. An archivist brings the past to the present by collecting and saving things like photos, letters, diaries, books, maps, and newspapers. I love keeping these things organized and available so that everyone can visit the Archive or our website to discover the history of Fort Collins!

One of my favorite stories about local history is our connection to Disneyland in California. A man named Harper Goff grew up in Fort Collins and later worked for the Disney company. In the 1950s he helped design the look of Main Street in Disneyland and used his happy memories of Fort Collins as inspiration! Here is a view of Walnut Street in Fort Collins from 1891…I think I can see a little Disneyland in there!

“Hi there! My name is Linda and I am the Curator of Collections here at FCMoD. I take care of the artifacts –which can be any of the objects we use to live our lives, while collecting as much information as possible about them. I make sure the rooms where we keep artifacts have the right temperature and light and are safe from pests that could harm them. My favorite moments with artifacts happen when people recognize something familiar in them: like when seeing a toy reminds them of how it felt to be younger, or a fingerprint on an ancient piece of pottery reminds them what it feels like to squish clay in their hands. (Visitors enjoy showing off their aprons from home while visiting an exhibit about historic aprons.)


What Can You Do? . . . Share Your Story!

We want you to tell us your story! Visit here to submit written, video, and photo files about your experience living during COVID-19. Use the ideas and questions below to help you get started.

We want people of all ages to complete it! That means you kids, teens, grown-ups, and families together. Remember your story is so important! You don’t have to be “famous” to be a very important part of history!

Not ready to share your story yet? That’s ok! Use the ideas below to record it anyway. When you’re ready, we’d love it if you share your story with us through our website. We want to help you save your story for your friends and family who will wonder about it later.

Get Started!

Not sure how to tell your story? Here are some ideas:
• Write a letter to your future self. What do you want to remember?
• Take a video of yourself telling the story of your quarantine.
Interview your friends and family (see our “Story Detectives” Discovery At Home to get started!)
• Become a photojournalist for a day/week. Write captions for all your photos and be sure to note
where you took it and the names of anyone in the photo!
• Create a graphic novel or art about living in COVID-19.
• Make a scrapbook! Include mask selfies, pictures of school at home, sidewalk chalk, baked goods, other parts of your experience! Be sure to include when, where, and who info about the photos.
You can share all of these with us through our website portal!

Think about these questions:

  •  If you were a kid learning about COVID-19 in 50 or 100 or 200 years what would you want them to
    know about your life? What would you want to tell them?
  • What do you want to remember about this time?
  • How are you feeling? What scares you? What makes you happy? What makes you sad?
  • What are you doing? What new things have you created or done to stay entertained?
  • What has been the hardest thing for you about stay-at-home and COVID-19?
  • What has changed in your life that is different from before?
  • How do you feel about wearing a mask?
  • How do you feel about doing school or work at home?
  • How do you feel about not seeing friends or family?
  • What has been the best thing about stay-at-home? What is the most fun thing you’ve done?
  • What is making you smile even when life is hard?

Want to download these directions? Click here for a handy PDF!

Follow along with our Daily Discovery! Click here for all activities that you can do at home.


Traducido por Károl de Rueda y Laura Vilaret-Tuma.

Descubrimiento en casa: ¡Ayuda a hacer historia!

Los museos son instituciones para aprender, jugar, descubrir… Pero también tienen otra responsabilidad importante: el colectar, preservar ¡y compartir la historia! El Museo del Descubrimiento de Fort Collins (FCMoD) también se enfoca en documentar la historia de Fort Collins y del norte de Colorado, y en estos momentos necesitamos de tu ayuda. Cuéntanos sobre lo que has vivido, lo que has visto, y lo que has experimentado durante la crisis del coronavirus (COVID-19). Encuentra información sobre este proyecto más abajo.

“¡Hola! Mi nombre es Lesley Struc, la Archivista de FCMoD. La función de un archivista es traer el pasado al presente. Yo me encargo de colectar y preservar artículos como fotografías, cartas, diarios y periódicos. Me encanta mantener organizado este material y hacerlo disponible para todas las personas que quieran descubrir la historia de Fort Collins, ya sea visitando el área de Archivo en el museo, o en nuestro sitio web. Una de mis historias favoritas es la conexión local que tenemos con Disneylandia en California. Un hombre llamado Harper Goff, creció en Fort Collins y luego trabajó para la compañía Disney en los años 50s. Ayudando a diseñar Main Street en Disneylandia, tomó inspiración de sus felices recuerdos basándose en algunos edificios ¡de Fort Collins! Esta es una fotografía de Walnut Street en Fort Collins del año 1891… ¡Creo que puedo ver un poco de Disneylandia es esta imagen!”

“¡Hola! Mi nombre es Linda y soy la curadora de colecciones aquí en FCMoD. Me encargo de los artefactos -que pueden ser cualquiera de los objetos que utilizamos diariamente- mientras recopilo la mayor cantidad de información posible sobre ellos. Me aseguro de que las habitaciones donde los guardamos tengan la temperatura y la luz correctas, y que estén a salvo de plagas que puedan dañarlos. Mis momentos favoritos con los artefactos ocurren cuando las personas reconocen algo familiar entre ellos: ver un juguete que trae memorias de su infancia, o una huella digital en una pieza de cerámica antigua les recuerda lo que se siente el aplastar arcilla entre sus manos.”

¿Qué puedes hacer? ¡Comparte tu historia!

¡Queremos que nos cuentes tu historia! Visita el sitio www.fcmod.org/making-history para enviar escritos, videos, fotografías, etc. sobre tus experiencias durante la crisis de COVID-19. Nos encantaría que nos ayudaran ¡personas de todas las edades! Eso significa que las experiencias de niños, de adolescentes, de adultos y de familias enteras son bienvenidas. ¡Recuerda que tu historia es muy importante! ¡No tienes que ser “famoso” para hacer historia! ¿Aún no estás listo/a para compartir? ¡No te preocupes! Cuando lo estés, nos encantaría recibir tu material a través de nuestro sitio web. ¡Estas historias podrían quedar para la posteridad!

¡Vamos a empezar!

Estas son algunas ideas para crear tu historia:

  • Escribe una carta dirigida hacia ti mismo, pero pensando en el futuro. ¿Qué te gustaría recordar de estos momentos?
  • Graba en video la historia de tu cuarentena.
  • Entrevista a amigos y familiares y anota sus experiencias.
  • Conviértete en reportero fotográfico. Escribe títulos para todas tus fotografías y asegúrate de anotar el lugar en donde fueron tomadas, así como los nombres de cualquier persona incluida en la imagen.
  • Crea una novela gráfica o alguna pieza de arte que exprese tu nueva rutina o alguna experiencia durante estos tiempos de crisis.
  • Haz un álbum de recortes. Incluye selfies con cubrebocas, fotos de “la escuela en casa,” dibujos hechos con gises sobre la acera, comidas especiales, o cualquier otra experiencia personal. Asegúrate de incluir información sobre cuándo, dónde y quién forma parte de las imágenes.

¡Comparte este material con el museo a través de nuestro sitio web!

¿Cómo les responderías a estas preguntas?

  • Si fueras un niño aprendiendo sobre COVID-19 en 50, 100 ó 200 años, ¿qué te gustaría saber sobre tu vida actual? ¿Qué te gustaría decirles a las nuevas generaciones sobre estos momentos? • ¿Qué quieres recordar sobre esta experiencia?
  • ¿Qué quieres recordar sobre esta experiencia?
  • ¿Cómo te sientes? ¿Qué te asusta? ¿Qué te hace feliz? ¿Qué te pone triste?
  • ¿Qué estás haciendo? ¿Has creado o inventado algo nuevo para entretenerte?
  • ¿Qué ha sido lo más difícil para ti sobre la orden de quedarse en casa?
  • ¿Qué ha cambiado en tu vida que ahora es diferente?
  • ¿Cómo te sientes al usar un cubrebocas?
  • ¿Cómo te sientes al tener clases y/o trabajar desde casa?
  • ¿Cómo te sientes al no poder tener contacto cercano con amigos o familiares?
  • ¿Qué ha sido lo mejor de quedarse en casa? ¿Qué es lo más divertido que has hecho?
  • ¿Qué te hace sonreír incluso cuando la vida es difícil?

¿Te gustaría descargar esta actividad? Haz clic aquí para obtener un archivo PDF.

Para encontrar actividades, ideas y mucho más descubrimiento en casa, ¡síguenos!

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Fort Collins & The Flu: 1918-1919

Post written by Sarah Frahm, Archive Assistant.

Fort Collins & The Flu: 1918-1919

What did Fort Collins look like the last time the city faced a widespread shutdown? From the fall of 1918 through the early spring of 1919 the citizens of Fort Collins found themselves under varying stages of quarantine due to the influenza epidemic. One document, currently at the Archive, that gives some insight into how the city officials handled the epidemic and quarantining of the population is a “Summary of Advisory Committee Recommendations.”

Fort Collins Quarantine Recommendations

Most telling about the problems the city faced in managing the flu epidemic is that the advisory committee was not even formed until December 1918, despite influenza raging in the city since at least October. According to an October 18th article in The Weekly Courier the state board of health had ordered the closing of “everything” in Colorado  but that those in charge of the college campus, where men were still doing military training, would not close the campus. The previous week an editorial had appeared in the newspaper demanding a “rigid quarantine be established” and that the city should be “shut down tight” like Boulder and Greeley. By the end of the October both the college and the city had enacted some form of closure, although without official documents it is a challenge to tell just how strenuous the shutdown was. Another article mid-November from The Weekly Courier complains that “quarantine has not been very rigid of late” with November seeing both elections and the armistice ending World War One and that these events and gatherings led to a rising in the number of flu cases.


The convening of a citizen advisory committee to the city board of health seems to be a recognition that the previous handling of the flu epidemic had been somewhat ad hoc and unclear (the November issues of The Weekly Courier discuss whether masks should be worn, or not, and if quarantine would be lifted, or not) and in need of some sort of codification.

But how did these regulations, once adopted, affect the citizens of Fort Collins? The first two points recommended by the advisory committee were not all that different from the quarantining, done before and after the influenza epidemic, for other diseases, like measles or scarlet fever. However, the third recommendation of shutting down schools and “ordinary public gatherings” was different. Social and fraternal clubs closed, such as the Elks (in April 1919, The Fort Collins Courier reports that the lodge was in remarkable good financial health despite having been closed for nearly three months. The women’s gymnasium, on the other hand, found itself struggling to have enough members in March.) The superintendent of the school district reported in the summer of 1919 that the school year had been full of “anxiety, hindrance, and depression” and that many of the plans for academic work had to be abandoned.

 The Elks Lodge was located at 202 Linden Street and was closed during the influenza quarantine.

If the lack of proper schooling and a severe curtail on social life were not bad enough, the fourth recommendation from the advisory committee was an extreme frustration to many in Fort Collins. Shortly after the requirement limiting the number of people in any place of business came out The Weekly Courier wrote an editorial telling people to quit complaining, pointing out that they too had to deal with these restrictions upon their office (if someone was to visit the newspaper office, a member of staff would have to leave in order to maintain the proper number of people per square footage). The editorial admonished the people the writer considered to be “knockers” to take the disease more seriously for the sake of the survival of the city.

While the committee was extremely serious on the subject of loafing on the streets (how else does a recommendation get to be written not only in capital letters but also underlined and starred?) the record of impact on peoples’ lives of that specific order is currently unknown. Rather it is the suborder that bares out most in the historical record. The committee called for a special officer to be appointed. The man who became “Quarantine Officer” was Orrin J. Watrous, then the secretary of the Fort Collins Commercial Club. According to The Fort Collins Express writing about the official vote of thanks put forth by the city government to Watrous, Mr. Watrous daily visited between “a dozen to twenty houses in his quarantine rounds” in order to ensure people were properly following the orders of the city.

Orrin Watrous, pictured here at the far right with a cigar in his mouth and boxing gloves on his hands.

When people did not follow quarantine regulations, there were consequences. One farmer, a Mr. Tom Hale, accused of breaking the quarantine on his house, had to go to court on December 27th and face trial. The Weekly Courier reported that Mr. Hale’s case was dismissed. While it is not clear what kind of fine or other penalty Mr. Hale would have had if he had been found guilty, his case is still an example of the added difficulties of living life under quarantine.

It is difficult to know, exactly, how people felt about the restrictions placed upon them by the city government. Currently there is only access to a weekly newspaper (even though the newspaper also ran dailies, Archive staff cannot get to them right now) and while there are potentially useful items held in the Archive collection, with our own doors closed, a lot of the details will have to remain unknown for the current time.

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The Neuroscience of Discovery

Post written by Jenny Hannifin, Archive Assistant.

The Neuroscience of Discovery

Last year we posted Problem-Solvers or Rocket Scientists? Same Difference, a blog that explored the nature of learning in informal settings. It explained how children and adults are constantly navigating “an ecosystem of learning opportunities, interconnected experiences that interact with and influence one another.”

A book about neuroscience published this year – The Brain in Context: A Pragmatic Guide to Neuroscience* – explains that the learning inherent in the act of discovery is not just a 21st century skill: it links directly to the neurobiology of our brain.

  • “Learning is our premium cognitive capability. The continued integration of skills … into frameworks of inquiry reflects our very nature …” (Moreno and Schulkin p 93)

Different brain regions are associated with different cognitive functions, most of which relate to the process of discovery: face recognition in the fusiform gyrus, the capacity for reflection on intentions in the angular gyrus, the consolidation of events into memory in the hippocampus and neocortex, working memory in the lateral prefrontal cortex, and memory extinction in the medial prefrontal cortex, to name just a few. Add in myelin interaction, glial cells, synaptic pruning, and environmental factors, and the result is a complex neural process much more nuanced than the outdated metaphor of “brain as computer.”

Our drive to discover –  the physical thrill we get from playing with, and learning from, ideas –is a form of appetite. We crave things. Neurotransmitters like dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin and acetylcholine modulate our arousal states – things like alertness, cognitive and motor organization, even emotions.

  • “Scientific hypothesis might seem like deadly serious stuff, but underneath it all, it is a form of play. … Play with ideas, the drudgery of test and failure, the excitement when something works, and, even more importantly, reliable replication, are all common themes, even in children’s play.” (Moreno and Schulkin p 193).

How we as humans think and act and learn is a dance of decisions and behaviors, constraints of neural design, interaction and compatibility with the external environment.

Here at the museum we wholeheartedly believe that problem-solving is something anyone can do. Neuroscience tells us that not only is it something anyone can do – problem-solving is something we are wired to do.


*All quotes from The Brain in Context: A Pragmatic Guide to Neuroscience, by Jonathan P. Moreno and Jay Schulkin (Columbia University Press, 2020)


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Making History Come Alive

Post written by Emily Smith, Archive Intern Spring 2020.

Making History Come Alive

At the beginning of the semester I started out physically in the Archive processing a new collection sent in from a genealogist who had ties to the area. In the procession of the collection of documents I learned the collection had connections to the Mason Family, as well as Northern Colorado in general dealing with documents from local Colorado archives as well as original Homestead application documents from the National Archive.

Nearing the end of that – there was the closure of the museum which consequently changed the way we were able to work in the Archive. To continue working from home I was unfortunately unable to continue my work on the collection, however, it gave me more exposure to new and different things the Archive does! Now working from home, I have helped with the transcribing of the Mary Hottel journal as well as, successfully transcribed one Oral History interview and I am now starting on a new Oral History to transcribe. While things have been drastically changing it has always been nice to go back to the Archive work as it is always engaging and interesting, while also understanding how many people in the community this will help in the future!

Thank YOU, Emily, for being an awesome FCMoD intern! We so appreciate your hard work and our community is grateful for the work you’ve done to make local history accessible to all.

Interested in interning at FCMoD? Check out opportunities under the “Internships” section of this page.

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Background in History!

Post written by Lesley Struc, Curator of the Archive.

Background in History!

Feeling the need to add a little historical zing to your online video meetings? Well, the Archive at Fort Collins Museum of Discovery has you covered. Feel free to download these images of Fort Collins’ past and use them as your virtual backdrop during your next online meeting or chat; impress your friends and coworkers with your fervor for local history!

Welcome to Camp Collins, circa 1865, looking southwest from the Poudre River toward the fort’s parade ground and buildings. This would have been near present-day Linden and Jefferson Streets. Download photo.

Fisticuffsmanship! Well, not exactly. This is wrestling match that took place circa 1908 on the east side of the 200 block of Mountain Avenue. All the people are looking at you, waiting for you to finish your meeting so they can start the bout. Download photo.

Meet your new officemate H.C. Lighter, Justice of the Peace for Larimer County, in his office at the Avery Block in Old Town, circa 1908. Download photo.

Your new office has a great view of the west side of North College Avenue, circa 1904. Download photo.

Now you’re on top of a streetcar in 1908, looking down North College toward Mountain Avenue. Check out all the cars in Fort Collins at that time and what is believed to be the earliest photo of the trolley. Download photo.

Finally, some color! Here’s a view of Pingree Park from a hand-tinted lantern slide from the 1910s. Ahhh, so peaceful. Download photo.

Nice office! Get things done here in the Poudre Valley Bank offices at 401 South College in 1967. This building is now home to Wells Fargo Bank. Download photo.

You can hold an important meeting in this stylish board room, also from the Poudre Valley Bank, 1967. Can you spy the Safeway out of the window? That building now houses Lucky’s Market at 425 South College Avenue. Download photo.

The Northern Hotel is looking bright and cheery in this postcard from 1958. Download photo.

Lounge around at the Safari Club, once located at 400 Link Lane in Fort Collins, where you could enjoy “Cocktails, Steaks, Prime Rib, Seafood and European Delicacies. Piano Lounge, Live Music, and Ballroom Dancing.” This image is from a circa 1975 postcard. Download photo.


Voila! Now boring video meetings will be a thing of the past… literally! Check out even more awesome local history photo background options by visiting the Fort Collins History Connections website: history.fcgov.com.

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