Americana: Colorado

Dear Mrs. Mayfield
January 15, 2008 to February 09, 2008

This exhibition examines the state of Colorado and its capital city, Denver, from an individual, everyday-life perspective based on excerpts from "Molly Mayfield," an advice column that ran for three decades in the state's oldest newspaper, the Rocky Mountain News.

In 1942, in an effort to save the paper, newly arrived editor Jack Foster introduced "Molly Mayfield," the first advice column for the lovelorn to run in a major English-language newspaper. It was written by his wife, Frances Foster. Initially intended to appeal to wives of servicemen stationed at the nearby Lowry Air Force Base, "Molly Mayfield" not only kept the Rocky Mountain News in business but also quickly became the most popular feature of any Denver paper. Similar columns—written by Ann Landers, Abigail Van Buren, and other soon-to-be household names—were before long a staple of almost every American daily. A 1957 article in Time magazine recognized "lovelornist Molly Mayfield" as the predecessor to Dear Abby and all the rest.

Newspapers are excellent documents of their times. Since its founding 148 years ago, the Rocky Mountain News has witnessed, and frequently participated in, Colorado's rise, development, and prosperity. Excerpts from the 30-year run of the "Molly Mayfield" column offer a glimpse of how life was led during that time and, through the questions asked and the advice given, what most concerned local residents.

Special thanks to Dr. J. Wendel Cox, Senior Special Collections Librarian of Western History and Genealogy at the Denver Public Library, for his assistance in research and reproduction of the columns; to Michael Lordi of CCA's Simpson Library for making the initial contact with the Denver Public Library; and to Jet Lim for consulting on the exhibition display and visual design.

Chialin Chou

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