The President’s Diaries: Transcribers needed for CSU history project

Samuel Johnson, Charles Lory, Margaret Durward, Miriam Palmer circa 1913
Towering figures in CSU History circa 1913 (from left): Samuel Johnson, Charles Lory, Margaret Durward, and Miriam Palmer

The Colorado State University Libraries need volunteers to help preserve University history by transcribing four handwritten diaries from Charles A. Lory, CSU’s longest-serving President.

The project will run until Aug. 31.

A challenge researchers face with Lory’s diaries is that cursive handwriting is not machine readable and researchers must painstakingly read through scanned materials to find the information they need. Transcribing Lory’s diaries will address this challenge by creating searchable, digital records.

After editing by library staff, completed transcriptions will be freely available on Mountain Scholar, a digital repository for institutions in Colorado and Wyoming.

Volunteers can contribute to transcriptions of four diaries: 1898, 1936, 1940, and 1951, using From The Page, a popular online transcription platform. These diaries cover a wide swath of Lory’s life, from his last year as a student at Colorado Normal School (now the University of Northern Colorado) to his last four years as President and retirement.

Three decades of service

From 1909 to 1940, President Lory oversaw the transformation from a promising land-grant institution to the burgeoning Colorado Agricultural and Mechanical Arts College that set the foundation for today’s world-class University.

“He had a profound impact on the university, but mostly we know him as the guy whose name is attached to the student center,” said project lead Clarissa Trapp. “His agricultural roots as an early settler and ditch rider were very influential in his early efforts to reach out to Coloradans and focus efforts toward Extension and outreach to Colorado’s general citizenship.”

Some of the most recognizable additions to campus during his presidency include establishing Extension Service, Mountain Campus at Pingree Park, the School of Agriculture, the master plan for buildings around the Oval, and the first student union building.

Although the Lory name looms large on local landmarks like the Lory Student Center and Lory State Park, the diaries reveal the man behind the name. Entries are a blend of professional, political and personal details of his life: luncheons with alumni and splendid Spring Commencements, business trips hobnobbing with political powerhouses, and happy afternoons with his grandchildren.

“Crowdsourcing transcriptions is a great way to for students, faculty and staff to engage with and take ownership of University history,” said Trapp. “This history belongs to all of us. It’s our story.”

For more information on President Lory and how to volunteer, visit the Libraries website.

Questions about the project may be directed to Clarissa Trapp,