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Families

What do these photos tell you about how city families were like?

The Dofflemyer Family

This is a photo of the Dofflemyer family. They lived in Gunnison, Colorado in the 1890s.

The Dofflemyer Family

Photo: Denver Public Library, Western History Collection

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Many people found good-paying jobs in the cities of Colorado. James Dofflemyer, the man in this photo, managed Gunnison’s telephone and telegraph company. His wife, Jennie, was the town’s first telephone operator. The Dofflemyers were part of Colorado’s growing middle class.

The Brown Family

The Brown family of Greeley posed for this photo. It probably was taken in the 1890s.

The Brown Family

Photo: Denver Public Library, Western History Collection

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Many African American families settled in Colorado. Most lived in Denver, which had an African American population of over 6,000 by 1920. Most worked in service jobs, such as Pullman car porters, barbers, cooks, waiters, and servants.

Their Own Words

"After the third child was born to the Robinson family, in New Mexico, my grandfather decided to move to Colorado. He had never forgotten how beautiful the mountains had been when he first came west. . . .Since he was an excellent cook, he was never out of work."

Source: Dorothy Bass Spann, in Black Pioneers: A History of a Pioneer Family in Colorado Springs.

The Levy Family

This photo shows the Levy family standing on their front porch. This family lived in Breckenridge. The children’s names are Agusta and Max.

The Levy Family

Photo: Denver Public Library, Western History Collection

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Charles Levy, the man in this photo, owned a clothing and dry goods store in Breckenridge. The cities of Colorado provided a comfortable life for the families of merchants like Mr. Levy.

An Immigrant Family

This family of European immigrants was photographed in their apartment in Denver.

An Immigrant Family

Photo: Denver Public Library, Western History Collection

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Large numbers of immigrants arrived in Colorado during the late 1800s. They found jobs in the cities, as well as in mines and on farms. Poor immigrant families like the one in this photo lived crowded together in apartment buildings.

Their Own Words

"In the fifteen or twenty years prior to 1920, the coal companies had actively recruited laborers from the impoverished and crowded areas of southern Europe. The recruiting continued into the 1920s but on a decreasing scale. Few of the children in our school knew any English when they entered. Their parents paid scant heed to some of the subjects the children studied—but no so with English! The children were made to repeat English lessons at home—and in this way, of course, parents learned the language too."

Source: Letha M. DeVoss, “Superstar,” in Margaret J. Lehrer, ed., Up the Hemline (Colorado Springs: Williams and Field, 1975): 99.

The Ferlin Family

This photo shows the Ferlin family. This Denver family played music together. The Ferlins had three daughters. The photo was taken in their parlor or front room. The family dressed up to have their photo taken.

The Ferlin Family

Photo: Denver Public Library, Western History Collection

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The Ferlin family was most likely quite wealthy. What in the photograph suggests that this was the case? One clue the photo offers is that each family member would appear to play a musical instrument. Instruments and music lessons were too expensive for many people to afford.