Skip to main content


Identifier: WH1364


The Magdalena Gallegos Papers document her personal and professional life from 1951-2021. The collection is divided into five series: Personal, Professional, Displaced Aurarians, Audio-Visual, and Oversize. Materials include article drafts from Gallegos' personal and professional writing, research notes, meeting minutes, meeting agenda lists, clippings, correspondence, cassette tapes, Auraria area maps, awards, and plaques.


The Personal series is arranged chronologically. The series contains The Trail yearbooks from 1951-1953, certificates and awards Gallegos received for her successes as a student, writer, and community member. Included are personal correspondence in relation to her writings, clippings, and a memorial program for Gallegos after her passing in 2021.


The Professional series is arranged chronologically. This material covers her career as a writer for various publications, including Southwest Magazine, Denver Urban Spectrum, and El Semanario. The series is arranged into subseries that define her professional writing in general, and a subseries for her writing and editing for Southwest Magazine specifically. Included are drafts of her articles, correspondence in relation to her work as the editor of Southwest Magazine, clippings of her articles that were published and drafts of her short stories and play Sueños.


The Displaced Aurarians series is arranged chronologically and includes material relating to her research of the Auraria neighborhood, the Hispanic community of the Auraria neighborhood, and the Displaced Aurarians Scholarship. Included in the series are meeting minutes and correspondence in relation to the scholarship, drafts of Gallegos' essays about displaced Aurarians and the Aurarian neighborhood. Questionnaires, surveys, research notes, and clippings for Gallegos' oral history project are included in the series.


The Audio-Visual Series includes 2 cassette tapes recorded by Magdalena Gallegos: Corky Gonzales, CSU Student Center, Fort Collins, March 8, 1976 (La Semana Chicana event, speech) and Felix Gutierrez “Roots of Latin Journalism”, 1976


The Oversize series includes Auraria area maps that were collected for Gallegos' research. Awards and plaques for Gallegos are included in this series.


  • 1951-2014, 2021


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

Magdalena “Madge” Gallegos was born in Denver, Colorado on July 12, 1935 to parents Felix and Florence Gallegos. She was raised in the Auraria neighborhood when it was known as West Denver and received a traditional upbringing and a Catholic education at St. Cajetan’s School. She had two brothers Larry and Don and one sister Debra. She graduated from St. Joseph’s High School in 1953. She married Frederick Trujillo in 1955 and had four children Mary, Bernadine, Arthur and Richard. In 1975, she divorced and became a single parent. She later married publisher John Oliver Mitchell Sr. until he died in 1999.

As a contemporary Denver neighborhood, Auraria is synonymous with the Auraria Higher Education Center (AHEC), which opened in 1976, and home to the University of Colorado Denver, Metropolitan State University of Denver (previously known as Metropolitan State College of Denver), and the Community College of Denver. But before Auraria was known as the higher education center, Auraria was a neighborhood that served a multicultural community that was predominantly Hispanic. Householder directories of the decades from the 1920s through the 1960s reveal a preponderance of Hispanic surnames, with a smattering of households reminiscent of earlier residents. St. Cajetan’s Catholic Church, the spiritual and cultural heart of Auraria’s Hispanic community, was constructed in 1926 at the corner of Lawrence and Ninth.

The Denver Urban Renewal Authority announced plans to build a higher education center and chose Auraria as its designated site in the 1960s. Metropolitan State College of Denver received federal assistance to fund the land acquisition and pay for the relocation of the Aurarian residents. However, the local Aurarians were in opposition to this urban renewal project and protested the development. However, by 1972, demolishment of the neighborhood had begun and many people were displaced. Gallegos dedicated much of her career and activism to telling the stories of the displaced Hispanic community of Auraria.

She became politically active and found her calling to support the work of the United Farm Workers Union (UFW), boycotting, and raising money to help those in need. During her community work for the UFW she met César Chávez. Gallegos campaigned for Hispanic political leader Sal Carpio when he ran for Denver City Council and then worked as Carpio’s council aide after he was elected in 1975.

Pursuing her lifelong dream of a college degree, Gallegos enrolled at the University of Colorado Denver in 1980, majoring in ethnic studies with the help of federal grants, scholarships, student loans and work study. In 1984, Gallegos received her Bachelor of Arts with Distinction from UCD. She became a college counselor at the Educational Opportunity Center at the Community College of Denver, encouraging others to get degrees and become lifelong learners.

During her college career, Gallegos enrolled in an oral history class, choosing to document the voices of the former residents of her Westside neighborhood in her project “Auraria Remembered.” Gallegos advocated for the Displaced Aurarian Scholarship, which still covers tuition and fees for the displaced residents and their descendants to attend college on the Auraria campus.

Gallegos became the editor and publisher of Southwest Magazine with her husband John Mitchell — a quarterly publication telling the stories of Colorado’s people of color. Gallegos wrote a play, “Sueños,” first performed at Denver’s Su Teatro. She wrote human interest stories and theater reviews, becoming the first Chicana theater critic for Denver Urban Spectrum community newspaper. In 2011, she published her first novel, “Florence and the Butterflies,” which documented the fables her mother, Florence, shared about growing up on a farm.

Magdalena Gallegos’ years of hard work earned her accolades in the community. In 2020, she was awarded the Eleanor Gehres Award for her service to the Western History and Genealogy Department and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Champion Award from the Community College of Denver. Gallegos passed away on May 12, 2021.


3 Boxes (3 linear feet)

1 oversize boxes

1 audiovisual boxes

1 oversize folders

Language of Materials


Spanish; Castilian

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, Magdalena Gallegos 1999, 2010, 2015. Gift, Jamie Seemiller, 2021. Gift, Bernadine Gant, 2022.

Related Materials

John Oliver Mitchell Sr. Papers (ARL 155)


Repository also has transcripts and copies of oral histories conducted by Gallegos: Auraria remembered (OH500).
Myranda Valdez
December 2022
Description rules
Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Denver Public Library, Western History and Genealogy Repository

10 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy
Denver CO 80204 United States