Mesa County Oral History Project

The Mesa County Oral History Project began as a joint project of the Museums of Western Colorado and Mesa County Libraries (MCL) in 1975. The Oral History Project collected tape-recorded interviews with pioneers of Mesa County and surrounding areas, and interviews with the children of pioneers. The Central Library housed the duplicate audio cassettes and provided patron access to the histories. The Museum stored the master tapes and kept files and transcripts related to the oral history collection. The Mesa County Historical Society also contributed significantly to the Oral History Project by collaborating with the library and museum to select interviewees, and by providing interviewers and other volunteers.

Today, the Museums of Western Colorado continue to record oral histories with residents who have important knowledge of the area’s history. Mesa County Libraries no longer partner with the Museum in recording interviews and no longer keep duplicate copies of tapes. But the library now works with the Museum to digitize interviews from the Mesa County Oral History Project and to provide online access to the interviews through Pika, the library catalog. The Museum continues to house the original audio cassettes, interview transcripts, and other source material for the project.

Featured Oral Histories


Chipeta: Ute Indian leader, and wife of Chief Ouray

John Otto: Locally renowned eccentric whose work building trails and in advocacy for local public lands resulted in the creation of the Colorado National Monument

William McGinley: One of Grand Junction’s founders

Charlie Glass: A skilled cowboy and African-American pioneer who worked for ranching outfits in eastern Utah and western Colorado.

Jean Urruty: Basque sheepherder and immigrant who overcame poverty and discrimination to become a hotel owner on Colorado Boulevard