City Cast

Meet Sam Howe, the Author of Denver's 'Murder Books'

Peyton Garcia
Peyton Garcia
Posted on November 13
Sam Howe with one of his ledger books.

Sam Howe with one of his ledger books. (History Colorado Collection, H.1347.38)

Sam Howe was Denver’s very first police detective. He moved to the Mile High in the mid-1800s and spent nearly five decades on the city’s police force. More than his crime-solving capabilities, Howe is most revered for establishing one of the country’s first crime databases and revolutionizing record-keeping at the Denver Police Department.

During his time at DPD, Howe chronicled 73 handwritten books detailing an estimated 58,400 Denver criminal cases. Much of his documentation was on petty crimes and misdemeanors, but two of his books were dedicated exclusively to local murders.

Now, Howe’s two “murder scrapbooks” are in the possession of History Colorado, and the museum is asking for volunteers to help digitize Howe’s deteriorating collection of newspaper clippings, photographs, notes, and case records on Denver homicides from the turn of the 20th century to go into a digital, searchable database.

The only requirement to volunteer is the ability to read cursive. People of any age and location are welcome to apply to help.

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