Francis Cragin was the chair of the geology department at The Colorado College, in
Colorado Springs, where he devoted twenty-three years of his life to the study of the
zoology, botany, and geology of the southern plains and the Rocky Mountain Region.
Along the way Cragin amassed an enormous library of materials for a book he planned to write on the early history of the West, with descriptions of its settlers and native inhabitants. Unfortunately, Cragin died before the massive volume could be published.
In accordance with his will, the collection was deeded to the CSPM later that year.
Cragin’s collection includes 32 handwritten notebooks filled with personal interviews of
early settlers and their families. There are also hundreds of photographs, hand-drawn
maps, and other illustrations.
This collection is the local equivalent to the immensely important work of Hubert H.
Bancroft, who documented western migration by collection firsthand accounts.
Following in Bancroft’s footsteps and utilizing many of the same techniques, Cragin
devoted himself to preserving the stories of the people that settled in the Pikes Peak
Region. Unlike Bancroft, who focused on prominent men, Cragin captured memories of
a broad segment of the region’s residents, including women, Hispanics, and American Indians. He is primarily responsible for capturing the experiences of a passing generation. .
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Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum