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ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS RECORDS (**collection in process**)

Identifier: WH2129

Scope and Contents

This collection contains primarily photographs and clipping files obtained from the Rocky Mountain News' internal library after the newspaper ceased publication in 2009. The collection contains items dating from 1859 to 2009, with the bulk of the materials dating from 1950 through 2000. Photographs and clipping files are mostly arranged alphabetically by name or subject. The collection also contains 16 flongs (molds used for creating printing plates; 5 flongs from the original acquisition of materials and an additional 11 donated in 2022.


This series contains primarily black-and-white photographic prints taken by Rocky Mountain News staff photographers during the last half of the 20th century. Descriptive information (date, caption, photographer) is provided on the verso of most prints. Rocky Mountain News staff created a filing system that arranged photographs alphabetically in envelopes by name or by subject, and this system has been retained.

Some photo envelopes also contain copies of copyright-restricted Associated Press and United Press International images. These items are not available for reproduction.


This series is comprised of name and subject clipping files compiled and retained by Rocky Mountain News staff for the purpose of an internal research library. The bulk of the files date from 1950 to 1991, are arranged alphabetically by name or subject, and contain newspaper articles clipped primarily from the Rocky Mountain News and Denver Post. While many of the files contain news stories of local and state importance, national and international stories are also present.

The collection was indexed by volunteers in the Denver Public Library’s Western History and Genealogy Department, and largely names, subjects, and notes written on each clipping file envelope were transcribed as originally written by Rocky Mountain News staff. For that reason, researchers may encounter abbreviations, spelling and date errors, and antiquated and potentially offensive language.

To improve search success, researchers may wish to format names in the following way: surname, first name (example: “Speer, Robert”).


This series contains 16 flongs (molds used for casting newspaper printing plates) from 1941.


  • 1859-2009
  • Majority of material found within 1950-2000

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.

Conditions Governing Use

This collection contains some copyright-restricted Associated Press and United Press International images. These items are not available for reproduction. 

Biographical / Historical

The Rocky Mountain News was Colorado's oldest newspaper. Founded during the 1859 Colorado Gold Rush by William Byers, the paper closed its doors in 2009, just two months before its 150th anniversary.

After the paper closed, there was considerable uncertainty about the fate of its archives. Private-equity investor Brian Ferguson came close to acquiring the archives, but the deal fell through. On June 8, 2009, Scripps Howard announced it was finalizing an agreement with the Denver Public Library "to ensure responsible stewardship of the storied newspaper's archives and artifacts." The Library "would assume ownership of the Rocky's voluminous archives, including all digital and paper newspaper clipping files," while the Colorado Historical Society [now History Colorado] would receive "such other artifacts as signs, photographs, special editions, artwork and other information that documents the history of the Rocky."

Chronology of The Rocky Mountain News

April 23, 1859
First issue of William Byers' newspaper, the Rocky Mountain News, comes off the press, beating a rival, the "Cherry Creek Pioneer," by 20 minutes.
September - December 1859
The Rocky Mountain News headquarters moves twice, from the attic of Uncle Dick Wooten's saloon at 1413-15 11th Street to a log cabin at 14th and Market Streets, and then to 13th and Walnut.
August 1860
The Rocky Mountain News converts from a weekly to a daily newspaper. It moves to a building elevated on stilts in the middle of Cherry Creek, near 13th and Market.
May 1864
The Rocky Mountain News' building near 13th and Market is swept away by a flash flood.
After multiple moves, the Rocky Mountain News settles into a brick building called the "News Block" near 16th and Larimer Streets where it stays until 1887.
July 1870
The Rocky Mountain News changes from an evening to a morning newspaper.
Byers sells the newspaper to Colorado railroad magnate W.A.H. Loveland, who modernizes with telephones, typesetting machines and wire services.
Under new owners, the paper moves to the southwest corner of 17th and Curtis Streets.
First photographs are reproduced in the Rocky Mountain News.
First red ink headlines appear in the Rocky Mountain News, and were used until 1933.
The paper's headquarters moves to 1720 Welton Street.
November 1926
Scripps Howard Company purchases the Rocky.
April 1942
The Rocky Mountain News changes its format from a broadsheet to a tabloid, under command of the new editor, Jack Foster. The move helps revive the paper, which had been on struggling during the early 1940s.
June 1952
The Rocky Mountain News' offices move from Welton Street to 400 West Colfax Avenue.
March 1993
The Rocky Mountain News premieres a newly designed, full color newspaper
April 2000
The paper wins its first Pulitzer Prize in photography for its coverage of the 1999 Columbine High School shootings.
May 2000
The Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Post agree to a joint operating agreement that combined advertising, circulation and production departments while preserving two independent newsrooms.
April 1, 2001
The Rocky Mountain News publishes its last Sunday edition. Under the agreement with the Denver Post, the Rocky Mountain News published a Saturday edition and the Denver Post published a Sunday edition.
April 2003
The Rocky Mountain News wins a Pulitzer in breaking-news photography for its pictures of Colorado's 2002 wildfire season.
March 2006
The paper's daily circulation stands at 255,427.
April 2006
Rocky Mountain News reporter Jim Sheeler and photographer Todd Heisler are awarded Pulitzers for "Final Salute," a report on a Marine major who notifies loved ones of military deaths in the line of duty.
January 23, 2007
The Rocky Mountain News is redesigned to a smaller, magazine format, with a re-designed masthead and more color photographs. The redesign was the result of new printing presses, which were able to operate about 25% faster.
December 4, 2008
Scripps announces plans to seek a buyer for the Rocky Mountain News.
January 29, 2009
Rocky Mountain News staff and community supporters hold a candlelight vigil to show their support for the newspaper.
February 27, 2009
The Rocky Mountain News publishes its final edition.


517 photo boxes

1143 Boxes

8 oversize boxes

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, Scripps Howard News Service, 2009. Gift, Chris and Jamie Giellis, 2022.

Language Disclaimer

Original name and subject headings assigned to envelopes in the photograph and clipping files of this collection were created by Rocky Mountain News staff and include racist, derogatory, and offensive language. Rather than remove and/or replace these headings, we have chosen to retain the original language to document the attitudes and opinions of the people who created the material and provide greater social context of the time period.

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