About Columbia Cemetery
Situated on 10.5 acres at Ninth and Pleasant Streets, the cemetery is a virtual "Who's Who" of early Boulder--a historic, cultural, and artistic resource containing the remains of many of our city's founders and pioneers.
Nearly 6,500 persons are interred in Columbia Cemetery. The gravestones are not simply inanimate markers of granite, marble, sandstone, or metal--they are narratives that reveal provocative clues about who we were, how we lived and died, what shaped our values, attitudes, and traditions. The epitaphs, engravings, and decorations provide insight into the minds and hearts of the hardy pioneers that have helped to make Boulder and Colorado what they are today. We invite you to browse the various links below to enhance your understanding and appreciation of Boulder's historic pioneer cemetery.
Burial Index and Interactive Map
The city has completed a Columbia Cemetery Burial Index that allows users to search for interments at the cemetery by first or last name or their location in the cemetery. The index also includes an interactive map so if you know the location of the interred, you can find out more about them.
The index compiles data from thousands of sources and will be updated as new information becomes available.
Death Data Difficulties
Columbia Cemetery did not give up its burial information easily. The earliest books (if any existed) maintained by the Masons and Odd Fellows have never been located. The first known book of the Masons begins in 1887. The Boulder Clerk & Recorder’s office does have records of some lot purchases in Columbia, but in the early days it was not necessary by law to record lot purchases.
Several maps have been drawn by various people that include names of owners and occasionally of burials. Responsibility for keeping the records of Columbia Cemetery fell to Howe Mortuary. Norman Howe gave these records and maps to Carnegie Branch Library for Local History in 1988. Some Columbia Cemetery maps may have been lost.
Several Columbia Cemetery grave markers contain names, but no death dates. This may be due to the fact that they are not yet deceased, they are deceased but have been buried elsewhere, arrangements for inscribing the marker were never made, or there is simply no available information. The remains of 56 persons went to the University of Colorado Medical School, eventually being buried in “boxes” in Columbia Cemetery. And there is a question of whether some of the people named are indeed buried in Columbia—early obituaries did not always state the name of the cemetery in which the deceased were buried.
“Columbia Cemetery, Boulder, Colorado 1870 to the Present" A Monumental Effort
The most comprehensive information on burials in Columbia Cemetery is included in an eight-volume document entitled, “Columbia Cemetery, Boulder, Colorado 1870 to the Present." Initially published in 1997 by Mary McRoberts, author, genealogist and Columbia Cemetery volunteer, and the Boulder Genealogical Society, these volumes contain an index of Columbia Cemetery burials, maps of lots, and biographical information.
The authors have permitted the inclusion of much of the information contained in the publication to be made available to the public on this site. The eight volumes are available for reference at the Carnegie Branch Library for Local History. Please note that there are more than 700 persons who are believed to be buried in Columbia, but their specific burial location in the cemetery is unknown. Their location is listed in the Index of Burials as “Section X.”
The goals of the publication were to locate every burial in Columbia Cemetery, compile biographical information about each person, ascertain the purchasers of each lot, and to attempt to determine descendants of the deceased. Many sources were used for research, including Columbia Cemetery Ledger books at Carnegie Branch Library for Local History, records of Howe Mortuary, Crist Mortuary, Boulder County Clerk and Recorder records, censuses of Boulder County, Estate Files of Boulder County, obituaries, Boulder Daily Camera newspaper files, and family histories. Every source has been listed with each entry and all sources are included in Glossary and Abbreviations .
A 1971 Survey of Columbia Cemetery by Robert L. DiMarco was the initial document consulted for available information. DiMarco’s publication was prepared for the City of Boulder to update and fill in gaps in the burial records, and to centralize all of the available information. Historic Boulder, Inc.’s 1993/1994 publication entitled “Columbia Cemetery Gravestone Inventory” was also consulted. Mary and Barrie McRoberts completed a visual survey of Columbia Cemetery in 1997, with Mary McRoberts completing an additional survey in 2001.
In most cases, the 1971 DiMarco survey and the Historic Boulder, Inc. inventory agree, but there are some differences. Occasionally, neither agrees with the written record of an individual’s burial location. Usually, the written record prevails, except for a few cases in Section E of the Cemetery.
Rules and Permits
Columbia Cemetery is a place of memory and quiet reflection. It also functions as a sculpture garden, a primary source for genealogical research, and a rich resource for local history. Most importantly, Columbia Cemetery is still active as a burial ground. Please treat this historic cemetery, its residents, and its visitors with respect.
Cemetery Visitor Rules and Regulations
- The Cemetery is open from dawn until dusk (BRC 8-7-3.)
- Pets must be leashed, and all excrement must be picked up and properly disposed of (BRC 6-1-16, 6-1-18.)
- For visitor safety and resource protection, it is unlawful to lean against, push, pull, shove, kick, climb on, or strike any grave marker (BRC 8-7-9.)
- Projectiles (balls, boomerangs, frisbees, paint balls, model airplanes) are prohibited (BRC 8-7-5.)
- Gravestone rubbing can damage grave markers and is prohibited (BRC 8-7-8.) Instead, use a mirror to direct sunlight onto the face of the marker to read the information on the stone. Preserve the epitaphs and artwork by taking a photograph.
- You are responsible for knowing and obeying all City of Boulder Revised Code Cemetery regulations. Violations are punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, 90 days in jail, and/or full restitution for damage.
Documents and Forms
Documents and Forms are available in the Related Resources menu on this page.