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Clifford P. and Therese S. Westermeier Collection

Identifier: COU:1686

Scope and Contents

The collection contains the personal papers of Therese S. Westermeier and Clifford P. Westermeier. The bulk of the collection is research material collected by Clifford Westermeier, as related to his career-long interest in cowboys, rodeos, and the American West. The collection is divided into five series: 1. PERSONAL PAPERS (1822-1986), 2. WRITING AND PUBLICATIONS (1897-1986), 3. RESEARCH FILES (1870-1986), 4. STAMP COLLECTION (1928-1978), and 5. FILM (1939-1949).

Series 1 contains photographs, news clippings, travel diaries, and other documentation from Therese Westermeier and the Stengel family, as well as the collected artwork, correspondence, and personal memorabilia of Clifford P. Westermeier.

Series 2 contains drafts and publications by both Westermeiers, including Therese’s poetry, short stories, and historical articles. Clifford Westermeier’s writing files include numerous academic articles and book reviews, as well as manuscript drafts and original book jacket and illustration designs for his published and unpublished works.

Series 3 contains research files, mostly newspaper and magazine articles, on various topics, as collected and maintained by Clifford and Therese Westermeier. Topics include blizzards of the Great Plains, cowboys, rodeos, western artists, western Americana, Wild West shows, Oscar Wilde in the United States, and the disappearance of CU Professor Thomas Riha and death of Gayla Tannenbaum in 1969-1971. Westermeier's later research includes information on black cowboys, Mexican and Native American vacqueros, women in rodeo, and depictions of cowboy sexuality and homosexuality. Series 3 also contains small collections of personal photographs and ephemera obtained by the Westermeiers from rodeo personalities Jim Eskew, Florence Randolph, Leonard Stroud, and Mayme Saunders, as well as art prints, cartoons, and posters from Western artists Charles M. Russell, Frederic Remington, Till Goodman, and others. Sub-series i, index subject files, contains research index cards created by Clifford and Therese Westermeier. The cards correspond to the research files held in this collection, listing and identifying the article clippings contained in individual research folders.

Series 4 contains the original stamp collection of Clifford P. and Therese S. Westermeier, featuring stamps of various Western historical topics. The original stamps may only be viewed with specific permission of the head of archives, though a color photocopy of the full collection is available for research.

Series 5 contains 16mm film reels, including rodeo and travel footage from Boulder, CO, Albuquerque, NM, Santa Fe, NM, and Yellowstone National Park.

Published books, periodicals, and some rodeo programs have been removed from the archival collection and can be found by searching the University of Colorado library catalog. Photographs are dispersed throughout the collection. See the Scope/Content notes for each series for more information.


  • Creation: 1869 - 1984

Conditions Governing Use

The University Libraries may not own the copyright to all materials in this collection. Researchers are responsible for contacting the copyright holder(s) for this material and obtaining permission to publish or broadcast. The University Libraries will not grant permission to publish or broadcast this material and are not responsible for copyright violations resulting from such use.

Biographical Note

Therese Katherine (Tracy) Stengel (November 6, 1902 – March 19, 1986) was from an old Boulder family. Her father Joseph Stengel worked in the coal mines around South Boulder and Marshall before he married her mother, Marie Dornberger, at the Sacred Heart of Mary Church in Boulder in 1891. Therese Stengel attended Mount Saint Gertrude Academy in Boulder, from which she graduated in 1921. For two years she taught at the Shamrock Rural School before she attended the University of Colorado, where she received a B.A. in 1926 and M.A. in 1928. She taught German at the University of Colorado, becoming an Assistant Professor in 1932. On October 19, 1945 she married Clifford P. Westermeier in Canon City.

The early education of Clifford Peter Westermeier (March 4, 1910 – November 13, 1986) was in fine arts. He attended the Buffalo School of Fine Arts, the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, and the New York School of Fine and Applied Arts in Paris, before receiving a B.S. from the University of Buffalo in 1935. From 1935 until 1944, he was an Assistant Professor of Fine Arts at the University of Buffalo.

In 1939, Westermeier received a M.S. from the University of Colorado. After leaving the University of Buffalo in 1944, he returned to the University of Colorado to work on his PhD. His field of interest had become the cowboy and rodeo in the American West. This interest was artistic, photographic, and historical. He looked at the roles, myths, and meanings of the cowboy and the development of rodeo. In 1946, he completed his PhD. His dissertation was entitled, “History of Rodeo,” and was later published under the title, Man, Beast, Dust: The Story of Rodeo. Westermeier continued teaching history at St. Louis University (1946-1947), Loretto Heights College (1947-1950), the University of Arkansas (1952-1964), and the University of Colorado (1964-1978). He served briefly as the military historian at the Army Chemical Corps in Baltimore, Maryland (1951-1952), and the chairman of the Department of History at the University of Arkansas.

Throughout their lives, the Westermeiers remained in close contact with rodeo personalities. Many of Clifford Westermeier’s portraits of riders are now housed in the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs, Colorado.


23 linear feet (53 boxes, 15 film cans, 4 flat storage drawers)

Language of Materials



This collection contains the personal papers and research files of Clifford P. Westermeier (1910-1986) and Therese S. Westermeier (1902-1986), both former professors at the University of Colorado Boulder. Clifford Westermeier was a painter and historian who published four books and over 20 articles on the history of the American cowboy, the rodeo, and the American West. The bulk of the material in this collection relates to his research and writing drafts. Therese Westermeier (née Stengel) was a professor of German, whose writing includes poems, short stories, American Catholic history, and the history of women at the University of Colorado.

Processing Information

A number of published books, reports, and periodicals were removed from this collection by Jamie Marie Wagner in 2019, because there are copies readily available from other sources, including the CU Boulder Libraries general collections. They were formally deaccessioned to the CU Boulder Libraries' acquisitions department in November 2022. A list of removed publications is available in Box 43, Folder 9 of this collection.

Processed by Harvey N. Gardiner in March 1986, with modifications by Thao T. Vo, Joe Long, and Kyra Glore (2006), Suzie Janicke (2008-2009), Ella Salvator (2013-2014), and Jamie Marie Wagner (2018).
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

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