Published: March 18, 2021 By

In December 1879, CU Boulder classes were just over two years into existence. The newly constructed $40,000 Old Main building sat on 51 acres of land donated to the university. Buckingham Library, situated on the second floor, had 1,500 volumes. Seventy-eight students attended the university.

It was time to report the news.

“We have not a large number of students and no loyal alumni to whom we can look for assistance,” declared CU’s first student newspaper, University Portfolio, in its inaugural issue. “But we feel sure that there are many warm friends of the University and students in all parts of the State.”

University Portfolio initially ran from December 1879 through October 1885 and ranged from three to six issues per school year. An annual subscription cost $.25, and a single copy cost $.05. Harold Thompson (A&S1882) and Henry Drumm (A&S1882), among CU’s first six graduates, served as editors.                        

“To all healthy college humor we will gladly open our columns. To matters of educational and literary interest we will devote what space we can,” the staff wrote in their opening letter.   

The Portfolio’s first issue lamented the lack of a university glee club, reported anticipation for the upcoming Christmas holiday and exclaimed that Dr. Sewall — CU’s first president — would work the eight chemistry students 15 hours a day if he could.

Several of the businesses and individuals who paid for advertisements in the newspaper were among the 104 original donors who secured the university for Boulder.

After ceasing publication in 1885 for budgetary reasons, the paper was revived as The Portfolio in 1889 for another three-year run after the Regents approved $100 in annual financial support. That year, Helen Beardsley (A&S1889) became the paper’s first woman editor-in-chief. Student literary and poetic writings became a staple aspect of the paper.

The Silver and Gold took over as CU’s student newspaper in September 1892. It printed weekly at the request of then-CU president James H. Baker, who wanted the publication to better keep pace with the news from the growing university. Silver and Gold left behind much of the student literary submissions The Portfolio carried to free space for advertisements and news about sporting events, clubs and on-campus activities.                        

Its final issue printed Aug. 22, 1952, giving way to the Colorado Daily, which thrived for 20 years on campus before becoming an independent paper, and later, part of Boulder’s Daily Camera newspaper.

Today, CU Boulder has two student newspapers, The Bold, funded by the College of Media, Communication and Information, and the CU Independent, which is currently seeking funding sources separate from the university. 

Photos courtesy of Carnegie Library for Local History Collection.