Background, Need, and Goals

Latinos and their contributions are almost invisible in standard histories of Boulder County and in the American history taught in local schools. Many families (whether deeply rooted in the community or more recent arrivals) have their own stories about the past, but these memories have rarely been recorded and are in danger of being lost. The Oral History Program at the Carnegie Local History Library in Boulder has taped 1,800 interviews over the past three decades, but no more than 25 of them appear to have been with Latinos. The only exception is a little book, involving senior citizens of Longmont and published in 1988, called We, Too, Came to Stay; it summarizes in 10 pages the history of the town’s Hispanic community and offers short biographies of nine individuals or families. Conventional written histories mention Latinos only in passing, to say that they came as coal miners or agricultural laborers. No acknowledgment is made that their work—and that of Latino shopkeepers, professional people, and others—has been essential to the economic development of the county. Nor have historians written about the contributions of Latinos to its social, religious, and cultural life. This project is helping to fill that gap, by documenting and preserving the past. It demonstrates that Latinos are indeed visible, in written records as well as in photographs and people’s own memories. A century of local Latino life is thus emerging into view.

The Project’s Goals:

  1. To prepare a multi-media history of the involvement of Latinos/-as in Boulder County, in collaboration with Latino community groups, interested individuals, and local historical organizations.
  2. To engage members of the county’s diverse Latino communities in documenting, presenting, and honoring their own and their forerunners’ contributions to Boulder’s life over 100 years. An emphasis on teen participants is helping to develop their sense of cultural identity and prepare Latino historians for the future.
  3. To prepare a collaborative community history of such high quality that it can serve as a model for similar studies elsewhere.