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Identifier: WH1072


This collection contains Aaron E. Gove’s correspondence from 1874 to 1916. Most of the collection covers his work as the Superintendent of Denver Public Schools from 1874 until his retirement in 1904, and his involvement in the Great Western Sugar Company and beet sugar production from 1904 to 1916. The arrangement of materials follows their original order. All received letters where originally filed by senders last name within designated binders for a specific time frame. Some items pertaining to education can be found filed with his correspondence relating to the sugar industry.

Of the correspondence sent by Gove, few original items exist in this collection. Gove's sent correspondence are largely carbon copies of the originals. Copies were arranged chronologically into various books, and are indexed by name of recipient. These books span the years 1874 to 1904, and relate to either his administrative duties in Denver Public Schools or his private life. Some of the letters contained in the books have faded, are very faint or are damaged. Some letters may be difficult or impossible to read.


This series contains correspondence received by Aaron Gove during his time as either the Superintendent of Denver Public Schools or involvement with the beet sugar industry. Letters were originally grouped by a specified time period then alphabetically by sender. This series was organized following Gove’s original system, and, where possible, have been kept in the original binders. Some binders have been split into sections due to size of original binder.

Much of the school correspondence includes direct inquires pertaining to employment, curriculum, and letters of reference. Other topics covered are: Gove's employment opportunities outside of Denver, school facilities, various school administrative duties, life in Denver, and his participation in state and national education reform. Items pertaining to his years with the Great Western Sugar Company and in the beet sugar industry include state and national beet sugar production, the Trans-Mississippi Commercial Congress, national and international sugar legislation, sugar tariffs, Philippine sugar production and land purchases, professional journals, as well as commentaries on different political platforms and reforms. Some beet sugar industry correspondence have copies of Gove's responses attached..


The series is composed of letter books containing carbon copies of Gove's sent correspondence. Few items contained in the ledgers were written by Gove. There are also items written by W.M. Newton, secretary to the Board of Education, and H.R. McPherson, Gove’s secretary.

The letter books also cover personal correspondence and topics related to Gove's duties as Superintendent of Schools. Many of the letters reference personal interests: children, family, friends, finances, travel arrangements, former school employees, business ventures, involvement in various associations and clubs, and the National Education Association.


  • 1875-1916


The collection is open for research.


The Aaron E. Gove Papers are the physical property of the Denver Public Library


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.


Aaron E. Gove was born September 26, 1839, in Hampton Falls, New Hampshire. He was the first of three children born to John Francis Gove and Sarah Jane Wadleigh Gove. When he was eight years old the Gove family moved to Boston, Massachusetts. Gove and his siblings attended school in Boston until 1855, when the family moved to La Salle County, Illinois. At the age of fifteen, Aaron worked as both a blacksmith and a country school teacher. During time off from teaching, he attended the Illinois State Normal School, graduating in the spring of 1861.

In the summer of 1861, Gove enlisted as a private in the Illinois Thirty-Third Volunteer Infantry, Company B. By September 26, 1861, he was commissioned a second lieutenant. A year later he became first lieutenant, serving as both an aide-de-camp to Gen. C.C. Washburn and as the division ordinance officer. He later served as a brevetted major at the battles of Port Gibson, Champion Hills, Big Black River and Vicksburg. Discharged from the army on June 18, 1864, he returned to Illinois, and married Caroline Spofford from North Andover, Massachusetts on February 13, 1865. They had four children: Denver attorney Frank E. Gove; Denver architect Aaron M. Gove; Ellen Spofford Gove Hanington; and Caro Gove McMurtry. On March 13, 1865, Gove received a military commission for his “gallant and meritius services during the siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi”.

In 1868, Gove was appointed Superintendent of Schools of Normal, Illinois. During the five years in this position, he owned and ran the periodical, The Illinois School Master. In 1874, Gove was invited to become Denver’s Superintendent of Schools with a yearly salary of $2,500. During the thirty years he served as Superintendent he oversaw the creations of Denver’s first official public elementary and high schools, consolidation of the Denver School districts, and became the first president of the Colorado State Teachers’ Association. During this time he also received two honorary degrees: a Master of Arts from Dartmouth College in 1878 and a Doctor of Law degree from the University of Colorado in 1888. In 1903 he took a six month hiatus to Europe for health reasons. At his retirement in 1904, Gove was active in national education reform and a member and former director of the National Education Association. Because of his career and involvement in various associations he was nationally recognized for his work in education.

After retirement, Gove became associated with the Great Western Sugar Company. He again became a national figure, this time in the formation of legislation for the beet sugar and international sugar industries. He briefly became involved with the production of sugar in the Philippines. Consequently, he spent most of his time in Washington, D.C., working to improve importation, tariffs, and sugar production for the United States.

Besides his professional careers Gove was involved in many different civic and community organizations. He was active in the Republican party, and held position as a Commander of the Loyal Legion, was a thirty-third degree Freemason, a member of the Grand Commander of the Knights Templar of Colorado, and was connected with the Lincoln Post of the Grand Army of the Republic, member of the Denver and University Clubs, board member for the First Congregational Church in Denver and the curator and director of the Colorado State Historical Society.

During the last sixteen years of his life Gove suffered from ill health. On September 26, 1916, his wife Caroline Spofford Gove passed away in Denver. Gove was bed-ridden from 1918 until he passed away in his apartments at the Shirley Hotel in Denver, Colorado on August 1, 1919 at the age of 80. He was buried at Fairmont Cemetery in Denver, Colorado.


4 Boxes (2.75 linear feet)

9 oversize folios

Language of Materials



Papers were donated to Western History/Genealogy Department by an unknown source prior to 1983.


The Western History/Genealogy Department has additional collections with material related to Aaron Gove and some of the organizations in which he played a leading role, including:

Denver Public School records: WH1990

Frank E. Gove papers: WH165

Gove and Walsh architectural records: WH1542


Number of Boxes: 4 (2.75 linear feet)

Oversize: 9 Folios




Sally McDonald

December 2012


Abby Hoverstock

December 2012
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

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

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