Colorado State Archives
About Our Agency
Mission Statement, Services and
The mission of the Colorado State Archives is
to ensure the preservation of the state's permanent legal records and
information and to promote their use by the citizens of Colorado.
Records management, archives management and micrographics quality
control are administrative functions provided to state and local
government agencies in Colorado to ensure the preservation of
Colorado's permanent legal and historical records. Information and
research functions provide for citizen access to public records
created by the legislative, executive and judicial branches of state
The Colorado State Archives is the legal
repository for selected historical and contemporary records and
information generated by state and local governments in Colorado. The
National Association of Government Archives and Records Administration
and the Council of State Governments have said that "state archives
are the guardians of much of a state's public documentary heritage,
resources essential in establishing a citizen's rights, understanding
his past, coping with his present, and planning for his future...The
value of a state archive stems from the information it contains and
the evidence it provides. Its records are essential to administrative
and cultural continuity."
Records Management / Records Disaster Recovery / Records Destruction
Employees from state and local government agencies can request
assistance with records retention and disposition scheduling. By
statute, the State Archives sets legal retention periods and
disposition requirements for records created by over 240 state
agencies, offices of the 64 counties, 280 municipalities, 176 school
districts and 1400 special districts. The State Archives advises when
and how public records may be transferred, destroyed or if they must
be kept permanently. In addition, the State Archives can provide
guidance in the recovery of damage to records from disasters. Please
Records Management Page
for detailed information.
Optical Imaging and Disaster Recovery Services
Any agency of state or local government that microfilms or images its
records may store the original at the State Archives for back-up or
disaster recovery purposes at no cost. Guidelines on micrographics
quality and optical imaging are available from our office.
Transfer and Storage Services
The State Archives serves as the legal repository for permanent
records generated by state agencies. Records are transferred from
state agencies in accordance with agency records retention schedules.
Some records from local governments may be accepted for permanent
storage on a very selective basis.
Research and Reference Services
The Colorado State Archives has a wealth of information for research
and reference. We receive additional accessions periodically. We will
respond to mail and phone requests but suggest that you conduct any
extensive research at our facility whenever possible because of the
voluminous nature of our collections. Records deposited at the
Colorado State Archives are available for use subject to restrictions
or limitations imposed by law, by executive order, by the agency from
which they have been transferred, or by the State Archivist. The
research and reference functions are cash funded activities of state
government, hence fees for service apply. Information about fees is
readily available from our staff by asking us in person or by phone.
The staff will assist researchers in identifying records that will
assist them with their information needs and will retrieve records
requested by researchers. Many original records may also be available
for viewing in micrographic formats. Records must be used in the
Research Room because they may be the only or definitive copy, and may
not be withdrawn from the State Archives. The staff will make copies
of records upon request. Please see our
Resources and Collections
page for further descriptions of the records we have.
The following publications are provided to educate
and inform public officials and records custodians about information
issues they may confront.
Colorado State Archivist is on the
Colorado Historical Records Advisory Board
and is a member of
Colorado Preservation Alliance.
organizations improve the housing and care of and promote access to
essential historical documentation through education, identifying
materials of enduring value to Colorado and coordinating activities
In 1943, the Colorado legislature created the
position of State Archivist to oversee the retention and disposition
of public records. The first State Archivist, Herbert O. Brayer,
filled the office as a staff member of the Colorado State Historical
Society. Dolores C. Renze, one of three women to hold such a position
at the time, succeeded to the office in 1949, retaining the position
until 1973. During her tenure, the State Archives and the Public
Records became a division within the Historical Society. In 1959, the
State Archives became independent of the Society. George E. Warren
became State Archivist in 1974 and retired in 1987. The
latest State Archivist, Terry Ketelsen, worked for the state for over
40 years and retired in 2012. The State
Archives has been housed in four different state buildings during
these years, including the old Woodward mansion at 1530 Sherman
Street. Records were housed in tunnels under the capitol complex and
in rented storage space in nearby buildings before its move into the
Centennial building in 1976, where the State Archives now occupies the
three lower floors. The State Archives also stores records in a
satellite storage facility southeast of Denver near Simla, and a
northern facility in Thornton, Colorado.
Mail is the preferred method of contact. Please include a check or money order. Requests made without appropriate payment will not be answered. If additional fees apply, you will be contacted with the appropriate amount due. Always include complete contact information including mailing address, telephone number, and email address. If you pay with a Visa or MasterCard, you will be charged for all services requested. Please let us know in advance if you wish to place a limit on the amount you wish to be charged.
The first request is charged $15.00 for an in-state request, and $25.00 for an out of state request, each additional request is $14.00. Payment is due whether or not item is found to be available. You will be referred to potential sources if we are not able to satisfy your request so that you may be able to continue your research.
Please direct all correspondence to:
Colorado State Archives
1313 Sherman Street, Room 1B-20
Denver, CO 80203
Our public office hours are 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, holidays
excepted. Please note that we are closed on Wednesdays to public access.
Records will not be retrieved after 4:00 p.m. Two staff archivists are scheduled to assist all researchers during scheduled business hours, please be patient, currently we process over six-thousand research requests per year, not including administering a State Records Retention Program, inventory management, a records preservation program, and we are the primary source for Colorado legislative history.
If you need personal assistance with your research, you will be charged in increments of fifteen minutes a professional assistance fee of $8.00. This includes assistance with genealogical research, or locating specific documents within a case file.
Please click here for a list of current fees.
Research Area Telephone: 303-866-2358. Please do not leave a message, messages will not be returned.
Records Management (for state and local government agencies
only): Due to the State government's difficult financial situation and significant staffing reductions at the State Archives, we are asking that all records management questions be e-mailed to us at:
Please put "Records Management" in the subject line and include in your e-mail your name, name of your agency, phone number, address and a detailed message regarding your questions.
If you are a K-12 student and need general information about Colorado and its history, please see our links to Colorado and its history for further information. Unfortunately, we cannot send information to students through the mail.
In-depth Research Projects/ Large Volume Requests:
If you plan on spending all day or more than one day researching our collection please call in advance to make arrangements. Photocopy requests consisting of multiple files, or more than twenty-five pages of photocopies will not be available for immediate pick-up. Requests that require more than twenty-five pages of photocopies, multiple certifications, over twenty-five page count certifications, or additional professional research services must be held with a credit card. Please allow at least seventy-two hours for work to begin on your project. The professional assistance fee will apply to more than twenty-five pages of photocopies which involve the unbinding and rebinding of materials, tri-fold case files, onion skin paper, or extremely fragile documents.
Large Format Reproduction:
We do not have the capability to reproduce large format maps, drawings, volumes, or other images/documents on-site. If a third-party vendor is located that can reproduce the image, arrangements will be made and a handling/service charge will apply.
Hand held scanners and digital photography by patrons is not allowed as an alternative to standard reproduction policy performed by staff.
Our main facility houses over 80,000 cubic feet of records, we also have two remote storage facilities adding another 60,000 cubic feet of space. Arapahoe County Domestic Relations case files (1996 – 2008) are kept at one of these facilities. We retrieve records from this facility on Wednesdays (weather dependent). We have another remote facility with low accessed records near Simla, Colorado. We visit the Simla facility the first Wednesday of the month (weather dependent). If the court has given you an Archive Location number beginning with either an “N” or an “S” – please call ahead to make arrangements. If documents are needed immediately from one of these facilities, a minimum $50.00 rush fee applies and there is a twenty-four hour minimum turn-around time period.
Courts Case Files: Please contact the court or agency of origin to get a case number before making your request. The majority of courts have kept their case file indices, and we have no way of locating your case file without a case file number, date, and name/title. In many instances they should also be able to provide you with an archive location number.
Teacher licenses: are organized by certificate number. If you do not have your certificate number you will need to provide personal information on the Department of Education’s website search engine and then contact us with the certificate number. Please visit the DOE Teacher Licensing Division at:
Student Transcripts: If you are requesting a copy of your student transcript from the Division of Private Occupational Schools, and your record has been archived, you will need to provide us with a completed Student Record Request Form available at:
Divorce Case Files: If you are requesting anything other than a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage from a post-1990 domestic relations case – you MUST be a party to the case AND provide us with a copy of your photo ID. You can both scan and email your photo ID image to:
firstname.lastname@example.org, or fax it to: ATTN: Research 303-866-2229.
Sealed documents, or if you are not a party to the case and are requesting any documents in addition to the Decree – you must have a court order. Please contact the court of origin to begin that process.
Legislative Audio Recordings: The State Archives holds recordings of Legislative proceedings from 1973 through 2011. Recordings made from 1973-2001 can be obtained by requesting digital transfers to compact disk. Click here for further information. Recordings made from 2002 through 2011 can either be transferred or can be listened to in person by making an appointment to come to the Archives.
Comments About the Web Site: If
you wish to comment about the Web site please e-mail us at:
For Research/Information assistance please call between the hours of
9:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Mountain Standard Time, Monday, Tuesday,
Friday, holidays excepted.
For all other services, such as Micrographics Quality Control or Archives
Management please call between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.,
Mountain Standard Time, Monday through Friday, holidays excepted.
Please direct all fax requests to the Colorado State Archives at:
Our Website Address is