The GITA Collection at the Auraria Library

The Gender Institute for Teaching and advocacy partnered with the Auraria Library in order to produce a digital archive open to the public, through the Auraria Library Digital Collections Repository. This interdisciplinary endeavor sought to delve further into archival materials to produce new histories of Colorado feminist and queer organizing from the 1970s until today.   

The Gender Institute for Teaching and Advocacy (GITA) @ MSU Denver digital collection houses archival materials collected by GITA, previously the Institute for Women’s Studies and Services (IWSS). Materials document feminist activism at MSU Denver and on Auraria Campus, in addition to events, posters, letters, papers and documents regarding gender, women’s and sexualities studies and services offered to students affected by sexism and other forms of oppression. Materials range from the 1970s until today. By making this work accessible GITA recognizes the decades of feminist, queer and anti-racist work the Institute, generations of students, the university and local and global communities have led. In preserving the memory, we hope that many more generations find inspiration in this archive to document, analyze, strategize, and continue the work to end sexism and all forms of oppression.

Project Highlights:

  • GITA’s archive team employed 4 student workers in 2022-2023. One of the student workers was paid thanks to the CLAS Innovation Grant. Students scanned 1641 documents, which were uploaded to GITA’s SharePoint site and the Auraria Libraries’ Digital Collection. Plans are in development to feature additional documents on the GITA website.
  • In March 2023, the team presented the 30+1 Bridge Speakers Exhibit at GITA, which was designed by GITA’s lead student archivist, with the collaboration of the three other students from the archive team, GITA student workers and student volunteers.
  • GITA publicized a call for scholars to apply to an archive mini grant to popularize the archive. We circulated the call through personal contacts to other scholars and networks in the field of Gender, women’s and sexuality studies. The circulation of the call spread the word on the existence of this archive, GITA and MSU Denver, as a site with a history of a long engagement with Gender, women’s and sexuality studies and feminist and queer activism. The winner, a PhD candidate in Communications Studies at CU Boulder (Mikayla Torres) will do a presentation on their work at MSU Denver in November 2023.
  • The project team will present at the the National Women’s Studies in Baltimore, MD, on October 28, 2023.

Arkansas River Valley Field Experience

The 2022-2023 Dean’s Innovation Grant was used to bring awareness to MSU Denver students of the rich diverse history and cultural heritage of southeast Colorado.  Often the focus of Colorado history is focused on Denver and the mountains, but not of the state’s Arkansas River Valley. The grant enabled MSU Denver Senior Lecturer of History Kevin Rucker to travel and research to the region’s historic sites to create the MSU Denver Maymester class “Colorado History: Arkansas River Valley Field Experience” and MSU Denver student internship programs at Bent’s Old Fort Historic Site and Boggsville National Historic Site. The cultural and history of the region encompasses Native Americans, Spanish conquistadors and settlements, Santa Fe Trail, fur trade, Pueblo and steel industry, Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad, Sand Creek Massacre, ranchers and farmers, and World War II Japanese-American internment facility at Camp Amache.

The grant award enabled students to attend the five day Arkansas River Valley Field Experience, June 6 – 10, with lodging and museum fees covered by the award. Students provided their own transportation and to bring spouses and children.  The field experience began at Fort El Pueblo and Pueblo Heritage Museum then traveled to Rocky Ford and spend the night at La Junta motel. The second day the tour traveled to Comanche National Grasslands’ Vogel Canyon, then to Bent’s Old Fort where students were treated to a barbecue and spend the night with bedrolls in the fort’s actual rooms.  Third day students toured La Junta’s Koshare Indian Museum and Otero County History Museum, Las Animas’ Bent County History Museum before arriving at Historic Boggsville where they were greeted with a barbecue and spend the night with bedrolls in the two-story 1867 Prowers ranch house.  The fourth day had students travel further east down the Arkansas River to visit Fort Lyon, Bent’s New Fort Historic Site, Lamar’s Big Timbers Museum and Granada’s Camp Amache Japanese-American Internment Camp before retiring for the evening in Lamar Motel.  The final day the tour visited Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site before returning to Denver.

While researching for this class two new internship programs were created at Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site and Boggsville National Historic Site.  During spring of 2023 had one MSU Denver student at Bent’s Old Fort and one student at Historic Boggsville as an inaugural pilot program where they performed site maintenance, acted as docents and learned hands-on historic archival research.

The Maymester “Colorado History: Arkansas River Valley Field Experience” class will be offered again in 2024 as well as internship programs at Bent’s Old Fort and Boggsville.

The Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project

The 2022-2023 Dean’s Innovation Grant allowed team members to investigate the Hellenistic period (323-31 BC) of the Vigla site in Cyprus which falls under the umbrella of the Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project (PKAP). PKAP is a two-pronged program focusing on undergraduate teaching and original research. The primary educational focus will be giving MSU Denver undergraduates an opportunity to expand their historical awareness by actively studying abroad in a safe and accommodating Mediterranean country and receive historical and archaeological training through the departments of History and Anthropology of MSU Denver. It’s a collaboration with undergraduate students from multiple institutions (Reed College, Boston University, the University of South Carolina, the University of Michigan).

Read more about this project in the MSU Denver RED Story:

Past Stories

Prior to 2022, CLAS Dean’s mini-grants were provided to faculty to support their scholarly research, undergraduate research and teaching which strengthened faculty and student engagement and ultimately, improved our programs and offerings.

2021 Mini-Grant Stories

College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

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