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Elvin R. Caldwell Papers

Identifier: ARL1


The Elvin R. Caldwell papers span the years 1950 to 2002. The papers comprise correspondence, campaign literature, photographs, newspaper clippings, articles and publications that record Caldwell's time as a Colorado State Representative, Denver City Council member and Denver Manager of Safety. Collection also contains photographs and material from the many clubs and groups of which Caldwell was an active member. There is a rich series of photographs that illustrate his years spent in the City of Denver's Department of Safety.


This series documents Caldwell’s career as a Colorado State Representative, businessman, Denver City Councilman and Denver Manager of Safety. The bulk of the series focuses on his seven terms as Councilman. Papers include campaign literature, newspaper clippings, correspondence, press releases, brochures and reports.


The series contains personal correspondence received by Caldwell and his wife, "Frankie". Documents from his involvement in social and community organizations form a portion of the series. Also included are newspaper and magazine clippings of current events which Caldwell collected over the years.

SERIES 3 AWARDS 1972-2002 BOX 4-5

This series comprises awards, plaques and certificates of appreciation received by Caldwell from community organizations. It also includes programs and newspaper clippings from various events at which Caldwell was honored.

SERIES 4 PHOTOGRAPHS 1954-1982, n.d. BOX 5

This series includes black and white photographs of Caldwell at various community and official functions.

SERIES 5 AUDIO-VISUAL 1984, 2001-2002 AVBOX 6

The audio-visual series contains an oral history interview recorded in 1984 and video cassettes of the Denver City Council meetings. Sound recordings of sermons by Reverend J. Langston Boyd of Shorter Community African Methodist Episcopal Church comprise a portion of the series.

SERIES 6 OVERSIZE 1955, 1963, 1973, 1979-1980, n.d. OVBOX 1, OVFOLIO 1-4

Epherma collected by Caldwell comprises the bulk of the series. Also included is a scrapbook compiled in 1963 that contains newspaper clippings, certificates, photographs from Caldwell’s bid for re-election as Denver City Councilman.


  • 1950-2002

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.


All requests for permission to publish, reproduce, or quote from material in the collection should be discussed with the appropriate librarian or archivist. Permission for publication may be given on behalf of the Denver Public Library as the owner of the physical item. It is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained by the customer. The Library does not assume any responsibility for infringement of copyright or publication rights of the manuscript held by the writer, heirs, donors, or executors. Reproduction restrictions are decided on a case-by-case basis.

Biographical / Historical

Elvin R. Caldwell was born April 11, 1919 in Denver, Colorado to Wilba and Inez Caldwell. He was one of 12 children. He graduated from East High School in Denver, Colorado and received a track scholarship to the University of Colorado. He also attended the University of Denver for two years.

In 1941, he married Frank "Frankie" Harriette Webb - a union that lasted for 60 years and produced 4 children: Elvin, Jr., John, Ken and Frances.

During World War II, Caldwell served as the Chief Statistician for the Remington Arms Company and as Assistant Superintendent for productions. Caldwell served three terms in the Colorado House of Representatives. In 1955, he was elected to the Denver City Council and is noted as the first African American to serve on a city council west of the Mississippi River. He served a total of seven terms (28 years). During his tenure, he served as President for five terms. During these terms, Caldwell played a key role in passing bond proposals that provided funding for the downtown Skyline Urban Renewal Project and the Denver General Hosptial facilty. He helped secured federal funds through the Community Development Agency for housing and economic development. He fought for an end to discrimination against minorities at the Colorado State Home for Dependent Children, Clayton College, Park Hill Golf Course, the Denver Fire Department and the Denver Police Department. He helped establish the Eastside Neighborhood Health Center and Five Points Community Center. In 1980, Caldwell vacated his City Council seat to accept a mayoral appointment to the position of Manager of Safety.

Over the years, Caldwell served on the boards of numerous organizations including the Glenarm Branch of the YMCA, Boy Scouts of America and PALS of Denver. He served on the board of directors for: the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Opportunities Industrialization Center, The Denver Improvement Association, Mayor's Commission on Community Relations, Colorado Municipal League, Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Five Points Businessmen's Association, Urban League and the Senior Support Services. Caldwell was one of the founders of the Equity Savings and Loan Association, the International Opportunity Life Insurance Company and the Black Municipal League. Caldwell was a member of the Shorter Community A.M.E. Church.

On April 23, 2003, the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library of the Denver Public Library was named in Caldwell's honor and Omar D. Blair's honor.

Caldwell died April 30, 2004 at the age of 85.


5 Boxes (5 linear feet)

1 Audiovisual box

1 oversize box

5 oversize folios

1 envelope

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, Elvin R. Caldwell, 2000.


Frankie Harriette Caldwell papers (C MSS ARL44)


Catalog record based on preliminary inventory.


Merrie Jo Schroeder

December 2005


Ellen Zazzarino

Elvin R. Caldwell Papers
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Denver Public Library, Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library Repository

2401 Welton St.
Denver Colorado 80205