Ira D. Kneeland moved with his family from Kansas to Valmont, Colorado around 1881, and shortly thereafter to Boulder. He worked for Meile, a photographer on Pearl Street. At some point, Ira quit the gallery and went into prospecting until 1886 when he became interested in the Topolobampo co-operative (American socialist) colony in Sinaloa, Mexico. In 1889 he went to Mexico as the photographer for the Credit Foncier Company of Sinaloa. The colony failed in 1913 and the colonists fled as refugees. After that he only did a limited amount of photography and settled on a homestead in the Black Mountains of California with his sister Clarissa Kneeland. Both Ira and Clarissa Kneeland died of pneumonia within days of each other. Ira was 87 and died on January 20, 1950. Upon his death, his niece, Mrs. Viola Gabriel, gave his collection of over 500 Topolobampo colony photographs and many colony-related documents and manuscripts to California State University, Fresno while the CU Boulder Archives hold his materials taken in and around Boulder.
The University of Colorado Boulder Libraries will celebrate the centennial anniversary of the Archives on June 6, 2018. This is story #17 in our series: 100 Stories for 100 Years from the Archives!