The Archive's History

Charlene Tresner, Fort Collins Librarian who started the Local History Archives Department.

1974: The Archive began at the Fort Collins Public Library (now Poudre River Public Library District). It started with the development of the WICHE (Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education) oral history project and subsequent collecting of family materials and photographs. Charlene Tresner was the first Local History Librarian and conducted many of the oral histories and collected hundreds of historic photographs that remain part of the Archive today. She was assisted in her efforts in creating an archive of local historical materials by other history-minded members of the community.

1985: Karen McWilliams, now Historic Preservation Manager for the City of Fort Collins, began serving as the Local History Librarian at Fort Collins Public Library after Tresner's departure.

1992: Rheba Massey began her work as the Local History Librarian after McWilliams, spearheading the online Archive Access Initiative in the late 1990s.

1997-1998: The online archive, known at its inception as the Archive Access Initiative, began as a cooperative project developed by the Library, the Museum, and the Historic Midtown Neighborhood of Fort Collins, Colorado. This online archive project was funded in part by a grant from the Library Services and Construction Act administered by the Colorado State Library, and was supported by donations from the Friends of the Library, Doris and Jim Greenacre Foundation, Fort Collins Posse of the Westerners, Livermore Women's Club, the Fort Collins Historical Society, and many active volunteers. The project manager was Rheba Massey, and project consultants were Bill Thorson, Mark Grigsby, Todd Massey, Robi Sen, and Hussain Chinoy. Special image scanning software and hardware was provided by Hewlett Packard's Home Imaging Division. The original Fort Collins History and Architecture Database was designed and donated by Jeff Bridges, a resident of the Historic Midtown Neighborhood.

2007: The Archive and all of its holdings moved from the Library and re-opened at the Fort Collins Museum located at the Carnegie library building at 200 Mathews Street. Lesley Struc became Archive Curator at the Museum, and part-time research assistants were hired.

Also in 2007, the Fort Collins Public Library became the Poudre River Public Library District. Through a partnership between the Library District and the Museum, the online archive's records were transferred to CONTENTdm digital collections management software. Peggy Shaughnessy, Lingzhen Zhao, and Carson Block from the Poudre River Public Library District were instrumental in making this database possible. In 2008, the new Fort Collins History Connection website went live.

2012: Fort Collins Local History Archive changed its name to the Archive at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery and moved into the brand-new Fort Collins Museum of Discovery (FCMoD) at 408 Mason Court in Fort Collins on November 10, 2012. FCMoD is a public-private partnership between the former Fort Collins Museum, operated by the City of Fort Collins, and the Discovery Science Center, the non-profit partner organization.

Today: The Archive at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery is free to visit and open to the public 30 hours per week. The staff continues the work begun by Charlene Tresner over four decades ago by collecting and preserving unique historical materials that tell the story of Fort Collins and making them available for current and future research.

None of the Archive's efforts would be possible without the tireless effort and countless hours contributed by volunteers, work-study students, and interns. They have organized, cataloged, and scanned historic images, indexed and performed data entry of tax assessor records, photograph ledger books, historic scrapbooks and newspapers, and vertical files, created inventories and re-housed collections, and assisted with grants, computer problems, and development of the website. In short, the Archive wouldn't exist without our volunteer corps. Thank you!

Panorama of the Archive, 2017

Fort Collins Museum of Discovery          Poudre River Public Library District
Preserving the history of Fort Collins, Colorado & the Cache la Poudre region