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Charles E. Aiken Papers, Ms 0001

Finding Aid created September, 1984 by Ginny Kiefer.

Scope and content

This collection is primarily Charles Aiken’s bird notes from the years he lived in Colorado. Also included are some photographs and pictures, mostly of birds and of dogs, and diaries and a few letters relating mainly to natural history.

Also included is a collection of clippings and notes relating to some artifacts discovered in Arizona in 1924. Although the whole episode was later labeled a hoax, Aiken spent a great deal of time and attention trying to identify the mysterious people who had apparently left inscribed crosses, spears, and swords in the Arizona desert about 800 A.D.

Biography (based on Aiken’s obituary in the Colorado Springs Gazette, January 16, 1936)

Charles E. Aiken was born in Benson, Vermont on September 7, 1850. He moved to Colorado Springs in October 1871, the year in which the city was founded.

Aiken was involved in various businesses during his years in Colorado Springs. In 1874 his interest in natural history led him into the taxidermy business. That same year he joined the Wheeler Geographical Survey as naturalist. Later he bought Well Price tannery and wool pulling factory. In 1878 he became part of the firm of Tith, Aiken and Hunt, an agency for selling pianos and sewing machines in Manitou Springs, with a curio shop in connection. He also booked traveling shows and other entertainment into the Colorado Springs courthouse before the Opera House was built.

Aiken was considered to be an authority on ornithology, paleontology, the history of the earth, evolution, heredity, and the breeding and training of dogs. He spent 25 years developing a strain of bird dogs. In 1907 he sold his collection of 5,000 bird skins and mounted specimens to General William Palmer, who gave the collection to the Colorado College Museum. In the 1960s, when the CC museum was dissolved, the college donated the collection to the Museum of Natural History at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

Aiken died of pneumonia on January 15, 1936 at the age of 85.

Note (2011): for further information on the Aiken family, see the Colorado Springs Century Chest collection.

Box 1


Numbered series of bird notes

#1 1897
#2 1898
#3 1899
#4 1900‑1905
#5 1907
#6 1908‑1923
#7 1924‑[1935]

Notebooks relating to birds

#1 1872‑4 List of birds collected with Wheeler expedition; lists of birdskins on hand, birds collected and birds noticed.
#2 1874 Notebook signed Ansel P. Williams
#3 1876 Lists of distances, eggs collected, skulls and sternae, lists of birds seen at specific locations
#4 1876 Descriptions of birds; notes on Gila river trip
#5 Notes on birds noticed on trip to Arizona; miscellaneous bird notes
#6 1877 Records of birds collected in Southern California by Frank Stephens for C. A. Aiken
#7 1877 Record of nests and eggs collected by F. Stephens for Charles E. Aiken
#8 1908 Lists of bird count, miscellaneous notes
#9 1920 Miscellaneous bird notes
#10 n. d. Listing of birds by species, date seen, locality and collector

Miscellaneous notebooks

#11 Description and drawings of exhibits at Smithsonian Institution
#12 Index to BAE and Smithsonian Reports, K‑Z only
#13 Writings about the sun's rays, water extinguishing fire, light and heat, moveable poles

Box 2


#1 1894
#2 1922
#3 1923
#4 1924
#5 1925
#6 1926
#7 1930
#8 1931
#9 1932
Three sketch books

Box 3


Fd 1 People (some of Aiken, some unidentified)
Fd 2 Owls
Fd 3 Birds
Fd 4 Dogs
Fd 5 Pet prairie dog
Fd 6 Alaska
Fd 7 Miscellaneous


Fd 8 Letters written Aiken, 1926‑1934 (scattered)
Fd 9 Unsigned letters and drafts, probably by Aiken, 1900‑1934
Fd 10 Letter to Jessie Aiken, December 13, 1932, from “Dean Carl’s Mother” (?) in California.


About birds

Fd 11 Juncos
Fd 12 Pigeons
Fd 13 Records of birds by classification number
Fd 14 Lists and notes about Colorado birds
Fd 15 Notes about New Mexico and Arizona
Fd 16 Bird stories and poems
Fd 17 Lists of birds delivered to the College
Fd 18 Lists of birdskins for sale
Fd 19 Lists of birds, skins, eggs
Fd 20 Miscellaneous notes about birds

About alleged pre-Columbian artifacts found in Arizona

Fd 21 Newspaper accounts
Fd 22 Aiken's theories
Fd 23 Notes about the inscriptions on the artifacts
Fd 24 Notes and calculations regarding the episode
Fd 25 Speculation about individuals named in inscriptions
Fd 26 Notes about circumstances in the New World (especially Mexico) and attempts to tie in with
mysterious people
Fd 27 Notes about circumstances in Middle East during 8th century and earlier

About Aiken's other interests

Fd 28 Reminiscences
Fd 29 Miscellany: theories on freezing of water, world government, killing of beaver, age of deer, time. Drafting book; various cards, clippings, notes.

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