Colorado Genealogy and History Guide

Colorado Genealogy Resources:





Colorado quick facts:

  • Statehood:
    August 1, 1876
  • State Capital:
  • State Nickname:
    Centennial State
  • State Bird:
    Lark Bunting
  • State Song:
    "Where the Columbines Grow"
  • State Flower:
    Rocky Mountain Columbine
  • State Tree:
    Colorado Blue Spruce
  • State Motto:
    "Nil sine Numine"
    "Nothing Without The Deity"


Colorado Genealogy Research Guide:

Colorado Census Records:

The present day state of Colorado was included in New Mexico Territory when it was established in 1850 and included Arizona as well.  Colorado Territory was carved from the NM Territory in 1861, meaning to the genealogical researcher, you will find people who lived in what would become Colorado State, in early New Mexico census records for 1850 and 1860.  After Colorado Territory was created, Federal census records began in 1870 and were enumerated every ten years thereafter.

Colorado Federal Census Years:

  • 1870 Census (Index online at the State Archives.)
  • 1880 Census
  • 1890 Census: This census was completely lost in a warehouse fire.
  • 1900 Census
  • 1910 Census
  • 1920 Census
  • 1930 Census

Some Colorado state census were taken by the state in addition to the Federal ones.  the 1885 Special State Census can be a great help in filling in the gap left by the loss of 1890 census records.  The Denver Public Library has this census online for Arapahoe County.

Another helpful resource are the Indian Census Rolls 1885-1944.  These census rolls were taken annually by the reservation agents.  See American Indian Records at NARA.  There is a 1900 census index for Colorado Indian Industrial Schools online at the Colorado State Archives.

Free Census Extraction Forms - Use these census extraction forms to record information in the same format as the census year it was taken.

Colorado Military Records:

US Military service records can be obtained from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

Colorado soldiers records can be searched online at the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System but don't consider this a complete source.  The records held at NARA are more comprehensive.

Colorado Civil War Volunteers are online in an alphabetical index at the Colorado State Archives.  Also on the site, you will find Colorado Volunteers from the 1862 New Mexico Campaign, Colorado Civil War Casualties, and the Colorado Veteran Graves Index which includes all US veterans buried in Colorado.  These Civil War records can be viewed in person at the: Colorado State Archives, 1313 Sherman Street, Room 1B20, Denver, CO 80203

Colorado Civil War GAR (Grand Army Republic) Members are listed online at the Denver Public Library.

United States Civil War Prisons has some prisoner lists online.

Colorado Vital Records:

The Colorado Health Department holds vital records for the following years:

  • Birth records 1910 to present day.
  • Death records 1900 to present day.
  • Marriage records 1900 to 1939 and 1975 to present day.  NOTE: Years 1940 to 1974 must be obtained from the county offices.
  • Divorce records 1851 to 1939 and 1968 to present day.  NOTE: Years 1940 to 1967 must be obtained from the county offices.

Each county office in Colorado holds the earliest vital records on file.  These are usually the ones genealogy researchers are seeking.  These vary by county and can be as early as the mid 1800s.  See the list of Colorado counties and the years they hold.  These early vital records can be obtained from the county offices.

Colorado Genealogy Subscriptions Online:

Many websites with Colorado genealogy resources fare available online. Some offer free CO genealogy databases and other information for the online researcher, but the paid subscription websites hold a more consistent amount of quality data and offer free trials to that data, giving the genealogist an opportunity to try out the service.

1. Colorado Genealogy Databases at

          Get the Free Trial when you register!

2. offers genealogy databases, a library and U.S. Census Collection.

         FREE TRIAL of


Colorado ColumbineCondensed History of ColoradoColorado Columbine

The earliest known civilized people of Colorado were the "cliff dwellers".  Called the Anasazi, which is an Indian word for Ancient Ones, they lived in the Montezuma County area of Colorado until about 1300 A.D. when they mysteriously disappeared.  The Anasazi appear to be the ancestors of the Pueblo Indians.  Many American Indian tribes have called Colorado home.  These include the Utes, Cheyenne, Arapahoe, Kiowa and Comanche.

Spain and France both laid claims to the Colorado lands in the late 1600s and early 1700s, however the Louisiana Purchase which took place in 1803, ceded the Eastern part of Colorado to the United States.

In 1806, the U.S. sent explorer Zebulon Pike to learn more about this new land acquisition.  He discovered the famous Pike's Peak, which is named for him.  Following him were many fur trappers and explorers.  Forts and trading posts began to spring up in this great new land.

In 1848, when the Mexican War ended, more land was ceded to the U.S. by Mexico.  This land became the rest of what is known today as Colorado.

In 1850 the U.S. purchased all Texas claims of Colorado lands and the present day boundaries of the state of Colorado were established.  The first permanent settlement of incoming pioneers sprang up at Conejos in the San Luis Valley.  Indian uprisings caused by anger at the encroaching pioneers forged a need for protection for the early settlers.  In 1851 Fort Massachusetts was built in the San Luis Valley for protection from the Indians.

GOLD!  In 1858, gold was discovered near Denver, Colorado.  This event led to the 1859 gold rush, when throngs of people came searching for this precious metal.  Some found gold and prospered, while others took up ranching, farming and lumbering.  By 1861, the area had grown so quickly, the United States created Colorado Territory.  In 1862, the "Homestead Act" was enacted and settlers poured into Colorado Territory with the promise of land.  Golden, Colorado was the declared the capital city of Colorado.  In 1867, the capital was moved to Denver.

With the coming of the railroads and end of Indian / Settler battles, the growth of Colorado was booming and on August 1st, 1876, Colorado was admitted to the Union as the 38th state of the United States.

Mining remains a chief industry with gold, silver and coal mines popping up all over the state, creating boom towns and in their wake, leaving ghost towns, many of which remain as reminders of a distant haunting past.

In 1881, the great Ute Indian Tribe was moved onto reservations and the final Indian raid occurred in 1888 when the Utes band from Utah led by Colorow made one more stand and were defeated.

Today, tourism, gambling and the promise of powder on the ski slopes of the great Rocky Mountains, brings even more prosperity to the grand state of Colorado.

COLORADO HISTORY FACT: Colorado was admitted to the Union on August 1, 1876, becoming the 38th state.

COLORADO HISTORY FACT: The state name comes from the Spanish word "Colorado" which means "color red" which is in reference to color of the muddy Colorado River.


Colorado History Resource Links:



Columbine graphics courtesy of Santa Lady