About the Institute, and about Historical Geography

The Colorado Institute of Historical Geography was borne of an understanding of the connectedness of the world. Its programs focus on local matters as expressions of broader and deeper dynamics in time and in space.

  • A narrow-gauge railroad in one mountain community is a small part of a network of transportation services needed for the settlement of a large and complex ecosystem and geography.
  • With the arrival of electricity, telephone, internet connectivity networks, communities and the lives of their residents were irreversably altered.
  • The settlement of a community is an end result of national and international economic events far beyond the vision and understanding of the people who build their homes and businesses and start their families.

The broad sweep of time reveals patterns of birth, growth, and transition in the life of our communities, our organizations, and in our own personal family histories.


It is the mission of COIHG to explore these realms, document them at this particular moment in time, and share them with today's generations.


The Executive Director

The career of Michael O'Neill has been focused on social applications of general systems theory. Working as an independent scholar, he has been a consultant to and staff member of a wide variety of organizations, communities, and governmental bodies. In his early career he was clinical director of a community mental health center and an elected member of a Board of Education.


He refined and enhanced his understanding of complex systems with a position in the corporate world, then returned to non-profit work in the planning department of world-renowned metropolitan government. His work with the Colorado Institute of Historical Geography is the culmination of a lifetime focus on understanding, cultivating, and enhancing Community, in all of its richness and all of its meanings.


A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, he devoted two decades of study and service to families and communities from a private office in the heartland of the United States. Since 1992 he has made his home amidst the national forests in the mountains of Colorado. His PhD was granted by the University of Utah in 1974. Actively developing a breadth of study and interest, His work in community have taken him far afield from his original work in social and clinical psychology.

Mr. O'Neill continues to support and subscribe to the ideals of Rotary International, though his choice to live in a remote mountain location prevents active engagement in a local club. The Four-way test never fails.


Married more than 50 years, he remains committed to nurturing and supporting the radical generosity of a progressive community-based church. He counts as among his greatest satisfactions his continuing friendships with the two generations of young people in his family.

Professional and Personal Advisors


By its very nature the field of geography is wide-ranging discipline, and specializing in historical applications serves to widen that perspective even further. Our work is generously supported by a constantly evolving variety of resources. We count among them librarians, geographers, city planners, engineers, lawyers, historical preservation specialists, historians, industrial archeologists, earth scientists, statisticians, and sociologists.


The arts are at the heart of all meaningful relationships, natural and human. We respect their power to connect us, to tap into universal truths, their revelation of archetypes. We include them in our life and our research, and actively engage them in our education efforts.


Through it all, and as a base, we are nourished by the understanding that there are truths far beyond our ability to yet grasp them. We are part of something much larger than ourselves. The life of Spirit supports us.



The Mission

of the

Colorado Institute


Historical Geography


To encourage the continued growth of the community and all its members


by emphasizing our common interests


through nurturing a sense of time and a sense of place.

PO Box N

Fort Collins CO 80522 USA

501(c)(3) DLN 26053699001115

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