Carnegie Library for Local History Collection Policy


The mission of the Carnegie Library for Local History is to collect, protect, and make available for research, materials in physical and digital formats relating to the history of Boulder County with a special emphasis on the city of Boulder.

Collection Policy

The Carnegie Library collects, preserves, and provides research materials relating to the history of Boulder County with a special emphasis on the city of Boulder. The collections focus on original and secondary physical and digital materials about the people, real estate, events, and businesses in Boulder’s history. The Carnegie Library collections include documents, photographs, maps, microforms, oral history interviews, dated newspaper clippings pertaining to a single topic, scrapbooks, ephemera, books, pamphlets, architectural drawings, periodicals and digital files. These collections are valuable historical resources, intended to be protected in perpetuity. Their care and preservation for the use of present and future generations is the principal responsibility of the Carnegie Library.

Scope of Collections

Historically significant materials relating to the city and county of Boulder will be accessioned into the archival collections. Any item selected for the archival collection must undergo assessment to determine its suitability for inclusion. Archival collections focus on materials with local, regional, and enduring value and represent the social, political, cultural, and economic history of the city and county of Boulder.


The archival component of the collections emphasizes the history of the area. Carnegie collects historic records of area businesses, community and civic organizations, religious institutions, and other public or private groups which have influenced Boulder’s development,

or have had a significant impact on the city and county of Boulder and its citizens. Selection of archival materials is assigned to the Carnegie Library archivists and is at their discretion whether materials will be added to Carnegie’s holdings.

Collection Criteria

In general, the collections are limited to images and documentary materials that support Boulder County history. Artifacts and other objects deemed to have a significant relationship to other items in the collections may be donated to the Museum of Boulder.

Types of items collected:

  • Documents (correspondence, diaries, notebooks, )
  • Photographs
  • Oral Histories
  • Architectural Plans
  • Maps
  • Digital files


Description of Collections

The Document Collection

The Document collection encompasses over 3 million materials that have been deposited at Carnegie in the print format. It includes a wide variety of sub-collections including newspaper clippings, business papers, catalogs, diaries, correspondence, ledgers, brochures, etc.

The Photograph Collection

Created when the Carnegie opened in 1983, the Photograph Collection is a combination of many different photograph sub-collections that document Boulder from 1859 to the present. Over 500,000 images of people, buildings, events and scenery document what life was like in Boulder during the past 150 years. This collection is built by donations as small as one photograph and as large as the entire negative collections of longtime Boulder area commercial photographers. Many of these photos are digitized and viewable on the Carnegie Library website.

 The Oral History Collection

An active oral history program complements the archival and manuscript collections by providing information not available through written sources. This collection consists of more than 3,000 reminiscences and analyses of events from persons who have firsthand knowledge of significant political, cultural, and economic events. The collection is in digital and audio format with transcripts and available on the Carnegie Library Oral History page. More than 1,000 interviews are also available in video format online.

The Architectural Plans Collection

The Carnegie Library’s architectural collection consists mostly of drawings and some photographs. This collection documents part of Boulder’s built environment, providing information about the work of Charles Haertling and Hobart Wagener, architects who practiced in Boulder. Their architectural drawings comprise most of the collection with highlights including: drawings of local residences and downtown buildings. Reproduction of the drawings from the Haertling and Wagener collections are restricted. Please ask staff for more information regarding use of this collection.

The Map Collection

The Map Collection consists of more than 800 maps that document Boulder’s and Boulder County’s growth, streets, ditches, subdivisions, zoning, bicycle routes, etc. The maps are categorized by city, county and mining and are organized by year beginning in 1860.

The Boulder Historical Society collection

This collection was created from the archives of the Boulder Daily Camera newspaper, whose editor, A. A. Paddock founded the Boulder Historical Society in 1964 to preserve and make available the Camera’s growing collection of community materials.  The collection documents the Boulder community from 1859 to the mid-1950s. Photographs emphasize prominent individuals, long-established families, churches, views and structures of Boulder, Colorado Chautauqua, Bluebird Cottage, schools, transportation, mines and mills, east county views, railroads, agriculture, sports, businesses, fire department, floods, Boulder-Colorado Sanitarium, and many others. The document collection includes articles pertaining to what was covered in the paper at the time as well as local history items the Camera collected for its archives. This collection was placed at the Carnegie Library in 1986.

The Daily Camera collection

Placed at the Carnegie Library in 2011, this collection documents the growth of Boulder through clippings and photographs from the Boulder Daily Camera from ca. 1930 to ca. 1996. This collection includes many clippings of community organizations, individuals and families, city and county government, business and political activities, and social/cultural events and small-scale articles, such as wedding announcements, arrests, births, obituaries, etc.             

Boulder County Assessor’s Office – Real Estate Appraisal Collection

Consisting of 191 boxes of Boulder County Assessor’s cards from 1929 to the 1960s, this collection is a visual record of all structures in Boulder county mostly from 1929 to 1949. Each card has at least one photograph of the structure and documentation of building characteristics. Cards from the city of Broomfield were given to the Mamie Doud Eisenhower Public Library in Broomfield.


Materials held by the Carnegie Library for Local History are considered for deaccession if one or more of these conditions are met:

  • Do not meet the collection policy.
  • Damaged or deteriorated to a degree to be unusable and/or a threat to other items in the archive.
  • Cannot be placed in any identifiable historical context.
  • Have minimal research value.
  • Duplicated in the other readily accessible collection.

Donors who completed a Deed of Gift [pdf] form and chose to be notified of materials not to be retained by the library will be contacted and offered the option of retrieving those materials from their donation.


Approved by the Library Commission on September 5, 2018.