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Colin B. Goodykoontz papers

Identifier: COU:667

Scope and Contents

Six sections constitute the Colin B. Goodykoontz Papers: Family Materials, Education and Mentors, University and Professional Materials, First Congregation Church of Boulder Materials, Audio-Visual Materials, and Oversize.

FAMILY MATERIALS consists of genealogies, diaries, correspondence between family members of a personal and business nature, financial/estate papers, and various personal effects of Colin B. Goodykoontz. Immediate family of Dr. Goodykoontz are grouped according to personage, and chronologies of birth and death govern the section’s arrangement after introductory folders concerned with parents Marion and Jennie Goodykoontz, those folders mostly prior to their son’s birth.

EDUCATION AND MENTORS divides chronologically from earliest schooling through to the end of Dr. Goodykoontz’s time at Harvard. The section concludes with individual folders according to personage, with separate folders for mentor publications (both signed and unsigned).

UNIVERSITY AND PROFESSIONAL MATERIALS represents the largest section of the papers. Folders specific to Goodykoontz’s university administrative work, committees, awards, salaries, and eventual retirement begin the section. Materials respecting Phi Beta Kappa follow. These include correspondence, but also programs and pamphlets, as well as numerous issues of the PBK publication, Key Reporter. Finished publications by Goodykoontz, as well as manuscripts and notes in varying forms, follow chronologically. Included with the publications are speeches and presentation pieces drafted and given by Goodykoontz for varying university occasions, as well as an entire body of papers reviewed by Goodykoontz when he was program chair for the forty-third annual meeting of the Mississippi Valley Historical Association. Dr. Goodykoontz’s lecture notes are placed after his publications. A small grouping of publications by state historical associations, academic foundations and government publications and professional-related university publications complete the bulk of the section.

The last division of the UNIVERSITY AND PROFESSIONAL MATERIALS section, Political and Social History, Pamphlet and Broadside Collection, warrants qualification. The materials, concerned with political issues and elections, international affairs, and social issues, both conventional and unconventional in terms of content, have been arranged chronologically as could be determined. As mentioned in the Biography of this guide, the University of Colorado Historical Collection, initiated by Dr. James F. Willard, developed as a collaborative collecting effort. Dr. Goodykoontz was undoubtedly one of the contributors to the effort, but there were others, and holdings became mixed as a result. Beyond issues of ownership, researchers interested in these materials are advised to carefully review collections of James F. Willard, Carl C. Eckhardt, and Percy Fritz, all present within this archive.

CHURCH MATERIALS includes documents related to Dr. Goodykoontz’s long affiliation with the First Congregation Church of Boulder in capacities of parishioner, officer, and historian. The section contains church-related presentations, manuscripts, drafts, and finished publications by Goodykoontz, in addition to local Congregational and denominational publications authored by others: sermons, news letters, missionary materials, and historical magazines. Financial records, budgets, fund-raising materials are also organized to reflect the different capacities in which Dr. Goodykoontz served the church.

AUDIO/VISUAL MATERIALS comprises a small collection of photographs, individually described that cross-reference sections of the collection in subject: family, professional life, church affiliation. In addition, 675 postcards, representing correspondence, souvenirs, and historical collection are individually described. Organization and order of these materials have been preserved mostly in the state they were received owing to indications in Dr. Goodykoontz’s hand. The cards, mostly spanning the period 1900-1940 have been described for purposes of the guide as follows: Depiction (most often using the cards caption); addressee; sender (signatory); date (of postmark); card type, with any note of content or circumstance.

OVERSIZE consists of newsprint and broadside material, except for one map. A substantial percentage of the materials, grouped primarily in the first four folders, relate either to Goodykoontz’s mentors, his professional career, Christian service, or personal/family interests. The remainder, grouped second, reflect contents of the pamphlet and broadside collection.


  • Creation: 1857 - 1958

Biographical Note

Colin Brummitt Goodykoontz (1885-1958), was an accomplished scholar in American history, a respected authority on the subject of the American West with numerous publications to his credit. He lived most of his life in Boulder, Colorado, arriving first in 1908 with his parents, and thereafter pursuing an undergraduate degree at the University of Colorado with great success. After a hiatus of nine years, during which time he completed his Master’s degree and Doctorate, he returned to Boulder hopeful of a productive future. Hired in 1921 by the university as a professor of history, he embarked on a distinguished career that would span more than thirty years, in the process raising a family and contributing positively to the Boulder community beyond the confines of the college.

But just as so many other Americans whom he would later study and seek to understand, Goodykoontz had traveled across the frontier, originally from eastern climes. Born in central Indiana, the rural town of Atlanta, both his parents had been teachers. His father, however, Marion Putnam Goodykoontz, was also an ordained minister, and it was the calling he preferred, and to which he devoted his life solely as he matured. His mother, Jennie Brummitt Goodykoontz, discontinued teaching after her son was born. Goodykoontz was an only child, somewhat unusual for the time, but this allowed his parents to devote that much more attention to his upbringing. Collection materials evidence that both parents valued and encouraged their son’s education from very early. He answered their encouragement and sacrifice with dedication and achievement. Certainly, it was not impossible to begin in a one-room schoolhouse and end with a doctorate, many did, but not without arduous work and support. Answering their efforts, Goodykoontz honored his parents throughout his life, caring for them generously in their senior age, just as they had done for him in his youth.

As an undergraduate, his first collegiate mentor was Dr. James F. Willard of the University of Colorado. Willard was known as a meticulous researcher in Medieval English history and a careful editor of primary texts. As he regarded Goodykoontz to be an excellent student, and wrote such in his grade records, he likely supplied recommendations to Dr. Herbert Eugene Bolton (also a medievalist) at the University of California, Berkeley, where Goodykoontz ultimately pursued his Master’s degree. Willard may also have been an enthusiastic voice in Goodykoontz’s later hire at Colorado, but he would hardly have been alone in that regard. Before making his way to Berkeley, the young Goodykoontz accepted the voted honor of carrying the senior cane at Colorado, proof of a far greater respect for his achievements and abilities than could be bounded by one department.

At California (1912-1914), under guidance from Bolton, Goodykoontz began narrowing the focus of his study. With his Master’s thesis, Spanish Exploration of Louisiana and the Adjacent Borders of New Spain, 1762-1800, he openly declared an academic interest in American history. Goodykoontz’s thesis reflected Bolton’s specific approach to an overall view of the Americas’ colonization and expansion, an approach articulated crucially in consideration of work by Frederick Jackson Turner (Turner, then at Harvard). Both Bolton and Turner were prominent historians of their moment, of different opinions, but related through their difference. Through study with Bolton, Goodykoontz surely encountered Turner’s writings and theories. But regardless how much he may have known of Turner beforehand, with his application and acceptance at Harvard, Goodykoontz discovered his second collegiate mentor in Turner, and dedicated study with Turner influenced Goodykoontz’s scholarly research and academic work for the rest of his life.

Colin Goodykoontz was an individual of engaged Christian faith. During his time at Harvard (1915-1921), he kept a detailed record of living expenses, both receipts and expenditures. Of particular interest are his frequent contributions to relief charities, religious groups, and churches. His concerns were both global (such as the War Fund Campaign and famine relief for China) and local (such as various church subscriptions). At Harvard, Turner’s views on the significance of the American Frontier provided Goodykoontz with the possibility to combine his faith and academic abilities in a scholarly and powerful way. The Home Missionary Movement and the West, 1798-1861, the dissertation he produced under Turner’s auspices, provided a foundation from which further research ensued, culminating eventually in Goodykoontz’s detailed work, Home Missions on the American Frontier, published in 1939, eighteen years beyond his doctorate.

When Dr. Goodykoontz returned to Boulder in 1921, hired as an assistant professor by the University of Colorado, he had already taught at Harvard, Bowdoin, and Yale. He and his fiancée had also made plans patiently while he diligently concentrated on the credentials to begin his career. In December of 1921, he married Susan Blakey in Shelbina, Missouri, although they had met many years earlier in Boulder. Fortunately for the newlyweds, Goodykoontz was promoted rapidly: associate professor in 1922, professor in 1924. In August of 1924, Susan gave birth to their daughter, Anna Louise, the Goodykoontz’s only child.

During his professional career at Colorado, Goodykoontz contributed significantly to the university in many ways. In 1925, he accepted a temporary position as Dean of Arts and Sciences, allowing then Dean F. B. R. Hellems a rare sabbatical. Three years later, Goodykoontz again assumed the deanship (1928-1929), but on that occasion Hellems was seriously ill and did not recover. Correspondence and materials in the collection suggest that Dr. Hellems’ death presented Goodykoontz with a significant personal as well as professional loss. It is also of interest that Dr. Goodykoontz did not pursue such a level of administrative service to the university subsequently. And yet, he served on myriad university committees through the years, whether concerned with curriculum, faculty promotion, university finances, or presidential searches, to name but a few examples.

Teaching, research, and writing represented Goodykoontz’s strongest priorities. Many of his extensive lecture notes show multiple revisions and rewritten versions, with illustrative enclosures added throughout the span of his teaching career. As to academic study, early on, in joint editor/authorship with his mentor Dr. Willard, the pair produced two books: Experiments in Colorado Colonization (1926); and The Trans-Mississippi West (1930), the latter resulting from the inaugural Trans-Mississippi Historical Conference which Willard and Goodykoontz organized for the university in 1929. Scholarly articles under his own name also appeared concurrent to his collaborations with Willard, both in edited compilations and academic journals, as well. Such articles continued frequently throughout his career, along with sundry book reviews and contributions to academic dictionaries and encyclopedias. His first major work, Home Missions on the American Frontier, appearing in 1939, as remarked above, represented the deliberate product of years of extended study. His second major book, Papers of Edward P. Costigan Relating to the Progressive Movement in Colorado, 1902-1917, published in 1941, suggests Goodykoontz’s supportive attention to the ideals of a political movement unique in Colorado history. But it surely provided a visible display piece, in book form, arguing for the university to serve as a repository for important historical collections and documents, an idea actively begun by his early mentor Dr. Willard, and carried forward mutually with his History Department colleagues, Drs. Carl. C. Eckhardt and Percy Fritz. In addition to his academic career, Goodykoontz devoted considerable service to the First Congregational Church of Boulder. He was not unique to the university in that regard. Review of Congregational Church membership lists contemporary to his time presents many prominent university names: Frank Wolcott, George Norlin, George Reynolds, A. Gayle Waldrop, Harl Douglass, Carl Eckhardt, James Willard, Warner Imig, W. B. Pietenpol, Earl Swisher, Percy Fritz, Mabel Van Duzee, Frank Walz, and Albert Bartlett, among others. Because much of his academic study dealt with historical aspects of American Christianity, Dr. Goodykoontz likely accepted an appointment as the church’s historian as a matter of course. He produced two church histories for publication: The First Congregational Church of Boulder, 1864-1939: An Historical Sketch (1939), and A Short History of the Congregational Church of Boulder, Colorado (1954). But he also worked extensively with church finances, constitution, selection of ministers, and numerous other concerns involving either committee or office appointment.

In late 1952, Colin Goodykoontz suffered medical difficulties with his heart, the fact and consequence of which brought considerations of retirement. The university, in reflection upon his significant contributions to the campus, honored him with the Robert L. Stearns Award in June of 1953. Granted Professor Emeritus in June of 1954 upon his official retirement, Dr. Goodykoontz continued with part-time teaching, continued working with the First Congregational Church, and remained in Boulder until his sudden death in 1958. Among the generous bequests in his will was a $20,000 contribution for the Board of Regents to administer to the University of Colorado at Boulder Library to improve its holdings in American History.


10.5 linear feet (22 boxes) : 22 Boxes, 2 CBX, 19 Oversize

Language of Materials



The Colin B. Goodykoontz (1885-1958) Collection consists partly of personal materials of Goodykoontz, his family and relatives: genealogies, correspondence, diaries, account books, photographs, and postcards. However, academic and educational materials created and collected throughout his professional career represent the majority of the holding. These materials consist of books, manuscripts, articles, presentation papers, lecture notes and illustrative pieces, articles by mentors, papers from participation in professional organizations, correspondence (including postcards), and photographs. Additionally, considerable research materials are collected pertaining to political elections; political, social, and religious issues; and organizations devoted to same. The remainder of the collected papers reflects Goodykoontz’s active participation in the First Congregational Church of Boulder, both as a parishioner and member, as well as his involvement in the Boulder community.


This collection is arranged into the following series: I. FAMILY PAPERS Personal Materials: Family, Parents, and Relatives II. EDUCATION AND MENTORS Primary, Secondary, Undergraduate, Graduate Mentors III. UNIVERSITY AND PROFESSIONAL PAPERS University and Professional Career, Awards Phi Beta Kappa Professional Publications of Colin B. Goodykoontz and Related Materials Lecture Notes Academic, Professional-Related, and University Publications (Various Authors) Political and Social History, Pamphlet and Broadside Collection IV. FIRST CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH OF BOULDER: PARISHONER, OFFICER, HISTORIAN V. AUDIO/VISUAL MATERIALS Photographs Family and related University Edward P. Costigan First Congregational Church of Boulder Photographs from Postcard Collection Postcards California California University Chicago Colorado Colorado University England & Europe Family Harvard Mesa Verde Miscellaneous New Mexico New York Oregon United States Washington D. C. Yale [University] X. Oversize. CAREER AND PERSONAL MATERIALS RESEARCH AND HISTORICALLY-COLLECTED MATERIALS

Processed by: Joyce Thurmer, Bethann Berliner, 1982 Reformatted by: Winglam Kwan, 2003
December 18, 2003
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Colorado Boulder Libraries, Rare and Distinctive Collections Repository

1720 Pleasant Street
184 UCB
Boulder Colorado 80503 United States