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University Library Association Records

Identifier: M027


The University Library Association Records consists of the records of the University Library Association, established in 1956 as the Women's Library Association (WLA) to raise funds and acquire book and archival collections for the University of Denver library. Under the early leadership of Marion Gottesfeld (Hurwitz) and Peg Bradford, both University trustees, the organization flourished and quickly became an important source of support for the library. Today, the organization has grown to over two hundred members and continues to provide financial support to the University of Denver libraries through their bookstore sales, educational lecture series, Living Library Fund, and a variety of other special events and a variety of other special events and fundraisers. The collection is organized into administrative papers, annual reports, events, membership records, newspaper clippings, publications and publicity, and scrapbooks.


  • 1958-2001


Biographical / Historical

The Women's Library Association, "dedicated to the premise that a great university must have as its heart a great library," was established in 1956 as the Women's Committee of the University of Denver. At the request of Chancellor Chester Alter, Marion Gottesfeld (Hurwitz) and Peg Bradford, both University trustees, formed a committee to raise funds for the University's libraries and to acquire book donations and manuscript collections to support University research and teaching. This committee, composed of seven other members, including Mrs. Harry Bellamy, Mrs. Horace Bennett, Mrs. David Chalmers, Mrs. Dayton Denious, Mrs. William Iliff, Mrs. Sam Levy, and Mrs. Harold Webster (Frances), organized an initial campaign that resulted in significant contributions to the Mary Reed Library.

In 1958, the Women's Committee of the University of Denver became the Women's Committee for the Library, also known as the Women's Library Committee. Under the leadership of Marion Gottesfeld (Hurwitz) the activities of the group were expanded, and the organization set out to build the library's collections through the solicitation of donations from organized women's groups and individuals, and the creation of a memorial book program. The new committee's enthusiasm and commitment was summed up in a 1959 Denver Post article, in which Marion Gottesfeld, referring to the Mary Reed Library, stated that, "a woman built this library so it's up to the women of the community to keep it up."

By 1965 the Women's Library Committee had grown to over 130 members and their impact was strongly felt, as they were responsible for acquiring seventy percent of the gifts made to the University of Denver libraries from 1964-1965. To reward this dedicated work a new organization was formed in December 1965 by proclamation of University Chancellor Dr. Chester M. Alter. The Women's Library Committee was renamed the Women's Library Association, with its own bylaws and Executive Board. Marion Gottesfeld (Hurwitz) was named the first Executive Chair, with Janet Pirkey appointed as the general chair of the Annual Support program. The new organization was designed to involve a greater number of women from the Denver community. They hoped to reach this goal with the Annual Support program, which recruited women to become Sustaining, Associate, and Contributing members of the WLA. Members were eligible to attend a series of educational lectures, which became the WLA Lecture Series, presented by University faculty and community leaders.

In the 1970s and 1980s the organization developed several creative events. Some of the most notable include the annual Art and Antique auction, the Bargain Bazaar garage sale, the WLA cookbook A Stirring Experience, Mansions in Miniature (a miniature collectible show and sale), the Craftskeller gift shop (a store for students in the student union), and the annual spring book sale. Along with providing funding for books and manuscript collections, the work of the Women's Library Association also reached more widely into campus affairs. They had a representative on the committee to select the architect for Penrose Library, which opened in 1972. In addition, they sponsored many special events on campus, including a reception in 1964 for U Thant, Secretary General of the United Nations, and an exhibit in Penrose library of the University's collection of prints by photographer Edward S. Curtis in 1975. To foster inclusivity, in 2014 the name was changed to the University Library Association (ULA).

Today, the University Library Association remains an important source of support for the University of Denver Libraries. Their used bookstore, The Book Stack, comprises the majority of their efforts for the libraries, along with the ULA Lecture Series, the Living Library Fund, and the contributions of annual members.


27 Linear Feet (28 boxes)

Scope and Contents

The collection is organized into administrative papers, annual reports, events, membership records, newspaper clippings, publications and publicity, and scrapbooks. The collection spans the years 1956-2001, with the bulk of the material documenting the WLA's work in the 1970s and 1980s. Administrative papers (1958-2001) include correspondence, calendars, financial documents, meeting minutes, membership lists, and other material related to the daily operations of the organization. Annual reports (1964-1996) consist of the formal reports submitted by committee chairs to the WLA Executive Board. Materials relating to Women's Library Association events are arranged alphabetically by event and include information about historic WLA such as the Art and Antique auction, the annual book sale, the Bargain Bazaar, Mansions in Miniature, and the WLA cookbook. The collection also contains several bound membership record books that list cumulative membership and donation information by members' last names as well as bound volumes that document yearly membership (1982-1991). Newspaper clippings, taken primarily from the Denver Post, span the years 1958 to 1992. Material in the publications/publicity includes two WLA publications (Bookworm and Focus) along with event programs, invitations, pamphlets, fliers, advertisements, and a book written by past WLA executive chair Betsy O'Meara, titled A Mansion in Miniature. Finally, scrapbooks (1958-1998) contain newspaper clippings, photographs, event programs, invitations, and a variety of other materials compiled by past WLA members.


The records are arranged in seven series:

  1. Administrative Papers, 1958-2001
  2. Annual Reports, 1964-1996
  3. Events, 1971-1991
  4. Membership Records, 1982-1991
  5. Newspaper Clippings and Publications/Publicity, 1958-2000
  6. Scrapbooks and Memorabilia, 1958-1998
  7. Financial Records, 1993-2001

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Transfer from the Women's Library Association, 1990, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2007.


Further accruals are expected.

Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and Archives Repository

2150 East Evans Avenue
Denver CO 80208
(303) 871-3428