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History Colorado taps first State Historians Council

Author: Joey Bunch - July 18, 2018 - Updated: July 18, 2018

History Colorado
Tom Noel, known as Dr. Colorado, will chair a new board of state historians. (Photo courtesy of the University of Colorado Denver)

History Colorado has created the first State Historians Council in its 139-year history.

Historian and author Tom Noel will chair the group of  historians from across the state for the historical society, which operates the History Colorado Center museum in downtown Denver and others around the state.

The council will be charged with interpreting Colorado’s story, urging collaboration between historians, supporting research and guiding visitors to museums and historical sites.

Noel is a professor and the director of public history, preservation and Colorado studies at the University of Colorado Denver. He is coauthor of “Colorado: A History of the Centennial State” and is known as “Dr. Colorado” for his books, TV appearances and articles discussing the state’s history. He also is a tour guide for History Colorado.

Colorado has had a lone state historian since 1924, and the State Historians Council will expand on that mission of “understanding of the historical perspectives, cultures, and places of Colorado,” History Colorado said.

Patty Limerick (Photo by Honey Lindburg, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

University of Colorado Boulder history professor Patty Limerick, the faculty director and chair of the board  for the Center of the American West at CU, has been the state historian since 2016.

“Dr. Limerick brought great expertise to the role and helped lead the evolution of our exhibition direction,” Robert Musgraves, chair of the History Colorado Board of Trustees, said in a statement. “We deeply appreciate Dr. Limerick and her service to the citizens of Colorado.”

The new council officially begins work on Aug, 1, which is observed annually as Colorado Day to celebrate statehood (with free museum admissions, performances and other history-related activities across the state).

Besides Noel, the council will be made up of:

  • Nicki Gonzales, an associate professor of history at Regis University, whose research includes the American Southwest, the Chicano Movement in Colorado, Chicano social, political, legal, and environmental activism and the history of land grant communities.
  • Jared Orsi, a professor of history at Colorado State University and director of the Public Lands History Center, who specializes in environmental and borderlands history. He teaches courses on U.S. and Mexican history and most recently authored “Citizen Explorer: The Life of Zebulon Pike,” which was a finalist for the Colorado Book Award for history.
  • Duane Vandenbusche, a history professor at Western State Colorado University since 1962, teaches on Western water, public lands and the environment. His book about the history of Western Slope, “A Land Alone,” has been the “standard text on the region since its publication in 1981,” according to History Colorado.
  • William Wei, a professor of history at the University of Colorado Boulder, is the editor-in-chief of the online Colorado Encyclopedia. He has held various national and international fellowships. His book “Asians in Colorado: A History of Persecution and Perseverance in the Centennial State” was a finalist for the 2017 Colorado Authors’ League Award for General Non-Fiction.

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.