‘Ramily’ ties: Inside the genealogical research resources at CSU

1984 yearbook

A photo of the CSU yearbook from 1984.

With commencement around the corner, thoughts are turning toward traditions and the alumni among our family and friends, whose time at Colorado State University made them a lifelong part of the CSU “Ramily.”

Genealogical research is a way for different generations to share stories, learn about elders and connect more deeply with their community. If you have family or friends who were alumni, you may wonder things like, “What classes did they take? Where did they live? What did they do for fun? What did campus look like when they were here?”

The answers may lie in the Morgan Library Reading Room, where students and alumni find themselves huddled around tables to pore over old photos, yearbooks and catalogs in the archives to piece together their loved ones’ life stories.

If you’re ready to embark on your own genealogical exploration, here are a few important resources you should start with. If you have questions about these resources and how to view them, contact the Libraries’ Archives and Special Collections.

Rocky Mountain Collegian (1891 to Present)

The Rocky Mountain Collegian is the oldest college newspaper in the West, and it captures the many lived experiences at CSU over the decades. As a newspaper by and for students, it sheds light on what students thought about, what they cared about, and what they did on campus. Issues from 1891 to 1960 and 2006 to present are available online. Issues between 1960 and 2005 are only available in person.

University Historic Photograph Collection (1879-2001)

In the University Historic Photograph Collection, you’ll find thousands of photos taken by official campus photographers. Photos cover various aspects of campus life, including academics, athletics, student activities and faculty research. A small part of the large collection is available online and researchers are encouraged to contact the Archives and Special Collections to see photos that are only available in person.

Silver Spruce Yearbook (1895-2002)

The Silver Spruce Yearbook was the student-created annual snapshot of student life and academics. Like the Collegian, it provides a glimpse into the past through the eyes of students. In addition to student portraits, the Silver Spruce also generally highlights clubs, traditions, athletics campus events, and recreation. The yearbooks are not yet available online.

Campus Directories (1922-2014)

Campus directories are a great source of information for alumni names, majors, Greek memberships and addresses. They can help establish some basic facts about an alums time at the University. The directories are all available online.

Fort Collins’ Latinx and German-Russian Communities

The Libraries also has collections related to the larger Fort Collins community that may help genealogical research projects related to the Latinx and Volga German communities.

Members of the Latinx communities have used administrative materials such as payrolls from the Records of the Great Western Sugar Company to learn about their ancestors who worked for the Great Western Sugar Company, the dominant producer of beet sugar for 80 years in Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Kansas and Nebraska.

For those with Volga German heritage, the most frequently used collections are the Collection on Germans from Russia and Sidney Heitman Germans from Russia in Colorado Study Project Collection. These collections include genealogical information, publications, letters, oral histories, slides, photos, field reports, obituaries and church histories related to the local community of German immigrants from Russia.

Thanks to Vicky Lopez-Terrill, Archives and Special Collections librarian, for her resource recommendations and collection expertise.