From Auraria's archives: Degrees of separation from Thomas Hornsby Ferril's autograph

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Thomas Hornsby Ferril was the poet laureate of Colorado until his death in 1988. The home where he spent most of his life is a Denver landmark that Colorado Humanities plans to sell.

But Ferril left other things to remember him by, including books of poetry that are part of the Auraria archives.

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Rosemary Evetts, the purple-haired archivist at the Auraria Library, recently invited me to visit the archives, where so much of Denver's history is written, typed, filed, numbered, boxed and shelved right there on the Auraria Library's third floor. The archives are not just open to students; anyone with an interest in Denver's history is welcome.

Evetts had set aside three books for me to look at. The first was a copy of a collection of Ferril's poetry that he'd signed for Donald Sutherland, a classics professor at the University of Colorado: Words for Denver and Other Poems. Ferrill's signature appears right under the title in a plain, straightforward cursive; his inscription also includes the phrase "Ave Atque Ave" -- likely some variation on the Latin phrase "Ave Atque Vale," which means "Hail and Farewell" -- and the date: February 7, 1967. In the bottom corner is a quarter-sized doodle of a trumpet. An arrow drawn next to the trumpet instructs the reader to turn the page over.

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