The doctor is In: Noel appointed state historian

History Colorado names Professor Tom Noel, ‘Dr. Colorado,’ as official historian

September 20, 2018

CU Denver’s own “Dr. Colorado” is now the official State Historian for Colorado.

Tom Noel, PhD, professor of history and director of Public History & Preservation, was appointed by History Colorado and started in the post on Aug. 1, Colorado Day.

Professor Tom Noel
Professor Tom Noel has been named State Historian for Colorado.

The role of state historian is itself a part of the state’s history; since 1924, History Colorado has appointed a state historian to help the organization preserve, interpret and share Colorado’s past.

“I am honored to be named Colorado’s state historian following in the footsteps of Colorado’s foremost historians,” said Noel. “I started out at History Colorado in 1977 as a volunteer tour guide, and I have held positions there in one way or another, including serving as an author and a board member, ever since.”

This year, History Colorado established its first-ever State Historians Council, an assembly of five noted historians working to connect with more residents throughout the state. They are tasked with expanding the understanding of the historical perspectives, cultures and places of Colorado.

As state historian, Noel is the leader of the council, and said he hopes to concentrate on scholarship and publications about Colorado, drawing on History Colorado’s vast archives.

“Publishing my first article, ‘All Hail the Denver Pacific: Denver’s First Railroad,’ in Colorado Heritage was a thrill,” said Noel. “I could not have written or co-authored my 53 books about Colorado without all of the wonderful resources at History Colorado.”

Many of Noel’s students have also become published authors of History Colorado’s magazine articles and books.

“I love teaching at CU Denver, where I’ve taught Colorado History since 1976,” said Noel. His joy for learning about Colorado’s past is evident in his teaching style. He requires students to write research papers so he can learn as much from his students as they learn from him.

Learn about Dr. Colorado’s popular events and lectures online at

Read more about his prestigious appointment as state historian in these news articles:

Colorado Politics – July 18, 2018
History Colorado taps first State Historians Council
Historian and author Tom Noel will chair the first State Historians Council for Colorado’s historical society, which operates the History Colorado Center museum in downtown Denver and others around the state. Noel is a professor and the director of public history, preservation and Colorado studies at the University of Colorado Denver. He is coauthor of “Colorado: A History of the Centennial State” and is known as “Dr. Colorado” for his books, TV appearances and articles discussing the state’s history. He also is a tour guide for History Colorado.

Westword – Aug. 1, 2018
Happy Birthday, Colorado: The Doctor Is In
A bit of trivia: How Noel got his nickname, Dr. Colorado, long before he had his Ph.D.
When he was a grad student, visiting every bar in the city while working on his thesis that would become “The City & the Saloon: Denver 1858-1916,” Noel was invited to be “Dr. Colorado” in a booth at a big convention, answering questions about the city and state. For the gig, he wore a lab coat with the title “Dr. Colorado.” The rest is history.