Photo of Dr. Jay Fell
Senior Instructor

Office: Student Commons Building, Room 3117

Mailing address:
CU Denver History Department
Campus Box 182
P.O. Box 173364
Denver, CO 80217-3364

Physical Location:
1201 Larimer Street
Room 3102
Denver, CO 80204


Fall 2021 Remote Office Hours:
By appointment only, please email me.


Expertise Areas:
American West, Colorado History, Economic and Business History

A.B., Colby College, Waterville, ME
M.A., University of Colorado Boulder
Ph.D., University of Colorado Boulder

James E. Fell, Jr. is a native of Fall River, Massachusetts. He graduated with a B.A. in chemistry from Colby College in Waterville, Maine, in 1966, then worked for a time as a chemist for Eastman Kodak Company in Rochester, New York. While there, he retreaded as an historian in night school and subsequently earned his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Colorado. He held a nonteaching faculty appointment at The University of Arizona from 1976 to 1977. Returning to Colorado, he worked in both historic preservation and exhibits at the Colorado Historical Society. From 1981 to 1983, he was the Harvard-Newcomen Fellow in Business History at the Harvard Business School and managing editor of the Business History Review. For the remainder of the 1980s, he served as manager of communications for United Banks of Colorado until it was acquired by what is now Wells Fargo & Co. Since 1990, he has taught at the University of Colorado Denver, though in the 1992/1993 academic year he was visiting associate professor at Colby College and has also taught summer school at the University of California, San Diego.

He is the author of Ores to Metals: The Rocky Mountain Smelting Industry (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1980); co-author with Stanley Dempsey of Mining the Summit: Colorado’s Ten Mile District, 1860 – 1960 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1986); and collaborator with Jay E. Niebur on Arthur Redman Wilfley: Miner, Inventor, and Entrepreneur (Denver: Colorado Historical Society, 1983), and has served as co-author or co-editor on other book projects. He is also the author of various articles and many reviews in professional journals, and has presented papers at various professional academic conferences. He is the current treasurer and a former director of the Mining History Association, which awarded him its Rodman Wilson Paul Award for distinction in mining history. And in 2012 and 2013 he was one of about 25 scholars involved in the World of Copper project, sponsored by the University of Glamorgan in Wales, a project which held conferences in Wales, Australia, and Chile to study the development and global dissemination of the Welsh process of copper smelting. He has been a member of various public boards in Boulder County and served for many years on Colorado's Inactive Mines Advisory Board for the Division of Reclamation, Mining, and Safety. He is a hiker in the summer and a skier in the winter and served two terms on the Board of Directors of the Colorado Mountain Club, which he continues to serve as member of its publication committee. He is currently engaged in several research and writing projects on Colorado history, other mining history, and the life of the famous detective author and screenwriter Raymond Chandler.


Ores to Metals: The Rocky Mountain Smelting Industry (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1980). Reprinted by University Press of Colorado, 2009.

Arthur Redman Wilfley: Miner, Inventor, and Entrepreneur (Denver: Colorado Historical Society, 1982). Collaborator with Jay E. Niebur.

Aurora: Gateway to the Rockies (Evergreen, Colorado: Cordillera Press, 1985). Co-author with Steven F. Mehls and Carol J. Drake.

Mining the Summit: Colorado’s Ten Mile District, 1860 -- 1960 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1986). Co-author with Stanley Dempsey.

Book of Proceedings: 5th International Mining History Congress (Milos, Greece: MilosConferenceCenter—George Eliopoulos, 2001). Co-editor with P.D. Nicolaou and G.D. Xydous.

100 Years Up High: Colorado Mountains & Mountaineers. (Golden: Colorado Mountain Club Press, 2011). Co-author with Janet Neuhoff Robertson, David Hite, Christopher J. Case, and Walter R. Borneman.


"Nathaniel P. Hill: A Scientist-Entrepreneur in Colorado," Arizona and the West (1974).

"Rockefeller's Right-Hand Man: Frederick T. Gates and the Northwestern Mining Investments," Business History Review (1978).

"Iron from 'the Bend': The Great Western and Brady’s Bend Iron Companies," Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine (1984).

"Robert S. Towne y la Compania Metalurgica Mexicana: en estudio de caso en empresa internacional," Vetas: Revista de El Colegio de San Luis (2001). Translated by Alma Parra.

"Old Mines, New Developments: Preservation, the Environment, and Public History in the Mining West," in Andrew Gulliford, ed., Preserving Western History (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2005)

"Silver to Snow: the Cyclic Development of the Cottonwood and American Fork Mining Districts, Salt Lake and Utah Counties, 1863 -- 1983," published as "Alta, the Cottonwoods, and American Fork" in Colleen Whitley, ed. From the Ground Up: A History of Mining in Utah (Logan: UtahStateUniversity Press, 2006). Co-author with Laurence P. James.

"'To the Task, Metallurgists!' Technological Advances in Ore Processing in Colorado, 1858 – 1914," Journal of the West (2010)

Encyclopedia Articles

Brief articles on John Murray Forbes, Kountze Brothers, David H. Moffat, Jr., and Populism and Greenbacks in the Encyclopedia of American History and Biography: Banking and Finance to 1913 (1990).

Biography of William Cornell Green in the American National Biography.

Biographies of the Douglas Family, Albert B. Fall, and Hugh Glass, and brief article on lead mining in the Encyclopedia of the American West.

Other Publications

Booklet: "Limon, Colorado: HubCity of the High Plains, 1889-1950." (Limon, CO: Limon Heritage Society, 1997)

Booklet: "Twenty-five Years of Banking in the Rockies: The Story of United Banks of Colorado, Inc." (Denver: United Banks of Colorado, 1989).

More than 50 brief biographies and other entries on political, economic, social, and environmental themes for an interactive videodisk detailing the history of Denver, Colorado (Denver: Colorado Historical Society, 1992).


American Business History
American Environmental History
American Film: The Studio Era
American Film and Popular Culture, 1945-1975
American West
American West on Film
Civil War and Reconstruction
Colorado History
Denver History
History of Mining in Western America
History of the Rocky Mountain West
History of U.S. Radio, T.V., and Film
Immigration and Ethnicity in the U.S.
Jacksonian America
Seminar in Early 19th Century America
Seminar in Science, Technology, and American Industrial Development
Survey of U.S. History to 1877
Survey of U.S. History since 1865
Technology, Corporate Strategy, and Competition
Twentieth-Century Europe
Western Civilization since 1714

Courses largely outside history

Business Ethics
Issues in Management
Special Projects in Science/Technology Studies
Technology, Corporate Strategy, and Competition