Colorado Encyclopedia offers wealth of resources for learning at home

Chief Ouray and Chipeta
Boy in a truck full of sugar beets
Books at Morgan Library damaged by 1997 flood

The Colorado Encyclopedia covers everything about the Centennial State’s history and culture, from its people such as Ute Chief Ouray and his wife Chipeta, its agricultural roots including the sugar beets that were so important to Northern Colorado’s economy, and natural disasters such as the 1997 Spring Creek Flood that inundated Morgan Library. Photos retrieved from Colorado Encyclopedia.

As Colorado schools remain shut down to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, many parents find themselves lending a hand with their children’s education at home, and wondering how to answer questions like: What is our state animal? When did irrigation come to the Western Slope? How did the national tuberculosis epidemic of the early 20th century increase Colorado’s population?

The answer to these and many, many other questions about the history, geography, people and events that have shaped the Colorado of today can be found in the Colorado Encyclopedia, an online compendium of information created by educators and researchers from schools across the state, including Colorado State University and University of Colorado.

In addition to a wealth of interesting facts – did you know Denver’s beloved Mayor Robert Speer succumbed to the influenza pandemic of 1918? — the Colorado Encyclopedia offers articles and teaching resources for 4th, 8th, and 10th grade readers. Articles and information on diverse people and places, with virtual connections to archeological and historic sites, are provided for middle-grade and high school students.

Free authoritative resource

All resources on the Colorado Encyclopedia are available free of charge, initially funded by a 2015 National Endowment for the Humanities grant. The $350,000 grant was renewed in 2019 to expand and enhance the Encyclopedia’s more than 700 main entries with 350 additional articles on the state’s history and culture and 75 new annotated guides for K-12 educators.

The Colorado Encyclopedia is now recognized as an authoritative source of information, and ranked both nationally and globally alongside other long-established encyclopedias of similar size. It was recently chosen as a recommended resource for parents teaching at home by Colorado Humanities and Center for the Book.

The grant is administered by Dawn Paschal, associate dean of research, digital library and data services at the Colorado State University Libraries. Project partners include the CSU Libraries, Colorado State University’s Public Lands History Center, University of Colorado’s Center of the American West, History Colorado, Colorado Humanities, the University Press of Colorado, and K-12 school districts.

“The Colorado Encyclopedia was founded to create a reliable source of information on the Centennial State,” said Paschal, who also serves as managing editor for the project. “The Encyclopedia supports K-12 educators by providing articles, essays, interactive resources and other curricular materials. Content also features in-depth information for researchers and scholars.”

William Wei, professor of history at the University of Colorado Boulder, is the editor-in-chief of the Colorado Encyclopedia. He points to how the online format of the project lends itself to developing timely and relevant content for all users.

“As part of this new phase, Colorado Encyclopedia is participating in the Colorado Women’s Vote Centennial, a celebration of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (1920),” he said. “With the generous support of the University of Colorado Boulder and Denver campuses, and the Colorado State University Libraries, Colorado Encyclopedia will continue adding new articles focusing on this subject as well.”

About the National Endowment for the Humanities

The NEH is an independent federal agency that is one of the largest funders of humanities programs in the United States. The Humanities Collections and Reference Resources grant program supports projects that are essential for scholarship, education and public programming. About 200 applications are submitted for this NEH grant each year, and only 40 awards are made.