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Walker Van Riper collection

Identifier: COU:1627

Scope and Contents

Walker Van Riper’s collection includes correspondence with colleagues and publishers. He published numerous articles and photographs. At other times his photographs were used to illustrate books and articles by other authors.

This collection contains seven series. Series 1: Correspondence to and from Walker Van Riper. This series includes correspondence about his publications from various people and his publishers. Series 2: Publications and articles by Walker Van Riper. This section is a collection of Walker Van Riper’s own publications and publications by authors with whom he had no correspondence. Series 3: Publications and articles by others. Series 4. Personal papers. This series contains materials relating to the Denver Museum of Natural History, the Colorado Yale Association. Series 5: Notes and catalogs. The notes are Van Riper's personal notes. Series 6: Photographs and photo albums. This section is comprised of photographs relating to Walker Van Riper’s interest in naturalism. Photographs of hummingbirds, rattlesnakes, and several species of spiders including the Black Widow Spider. After his death, his photographic collection was donated to the University of Colorado Natural History Museum. This collection is now in the Archives under the same name and comprises approximately 2200 photographs in addition to those listed in this guide. Series 7: Scrapbook, 1945-1959. This section details a scrapbook in which Van Riper collected various publications that he wrote or contributed to its content.


  • 1887 - 1960

Biographical Note

Walker Van Riper (1887-1960) was born in Sedalia, Missouri on March 9, 1887. After receiving an A.B. at Yale University in 1909 he was Secretary at the American Trust Company, St. Louis, Missouri 1909-1912, and received a B.L. from St. Louis University in 1912. He came west in 1912 for health reasons and taught Banking and Investments at Colorado College from 1914-1915, and Investment Banking in Denver from 1915-1925. From 1926 until his retirement in 1943, he was an Investment Analyst at Colorado National Bank in Denver.

Mr. Van Riper was an avid naturalist. Following his retirement he became the Curator of Spiders and Insects at the Denver Museum of Natural History at the salary of $1.00 per year. This collection of his papers relates only to his interests as a naturalist.

He was particularly interested in the photography of natural subjects. He became specialized in the photography of rattlesnakes, hummingbirds and spiders and wrote accompanying texts. From a technical photographic standpoint he was involved in the early use of the high-speed electronic flash, or strobe light, invented by Harold E. Edgerton of M.I.T., whom he knew and with whom he did photographic work on the hummingbird.


5.5 linear feet (13 boxes)

Language of Materials



Walker Van Riper (1887-1960) was curator of spiders at the Denver Museum of Natural History and an amateur naturalist and photographer. His special interests were rattlesnakes, hummingbirds, and spiders, particularly the Black Widow. His papers consist of correspondence, publications by himself and others, Denver Museum of Natural History Annual Reports 1945-1958 and some Programs 1946-1960. There are a number of photographs which include a series on the Virgin Oil field in Utah near Zion National Park.


The organization of each series is in alphabetical order, with the exception of series 5, which has no set order, and series 7, which are in loose chronological order.

Processed by: Harvey N. Gardiner; Edited by Grace Vallecillo-Drews, 2019; Uploaded to ArchivesSpace by Jennifer Sanchez, 2019
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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