Olibama Lopez Tushar
Olibama Lopez Tushar
Date of Birth
Born 1906 Died 2004
Olibama Lopez Tushar’s name is synonymous with Hispanic heritage research in Colorado. Her book, The People of El Valle, is the keystone resource for scholars, historians, genealogists, and students throughout the Southwest. A respected genealogist, fluent in six languages, and dedicated to the educational advancement of Hispanic women, she is memorialized not only with a bronze bust in the Gates Western History Reading Room of the Denver Public Library, but also through the successes of the young Hispanic women she mentored.
Tushar was descended from the first Spanish settlers of New Mexico who migrated north in 1849 to the San Luis Valley and settled in what is today Garcia, Colorado. Her family believed in the importance of education and moved to Denver in order to afford Tushar and her brother with a quality education. Tushar graduated as valedictorian of her class at Belleview Christian High School and became one of the first Hispanic graduates at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Her degree was in education and she was fluent in six languages. She then became one of the first, if not the first, Hispanic woman to earn a master’s degree from the University of Denver. Her college thesis was “The Spanish Heritage in the San Luis Valley” which she expanded into a book, The People of El Valle, which outlines 300 years of Hispanic culture and traditions in the San Luis Valley. The first edition was endorsed by the Colorado Centennial Bicentennial Commission. Today, in its fourth edition, the book continues to be a resource for anyone studying the Southwest.
In 1940 Tushar was recruited to teach at the Walsenburg Public Schools by the superintendent because of her cultural knowledge, language skills, and ability to connect with Hispanic students. In 1942 when World War II broke out, she was drafted into government service as a deputy acting censor in El Paso, Texas. When she was released from duty in 1945, she returned to Denver where she worked as a translator for three export companies. She continued her active involvement in genealogy research until age 97.
In addition to her bust at the Denver Public Library, Tushar’s honors include induction into the International Biographical Center and a lifetime achievement award from the Genealogical Society of Hispanic America. The Olibama Lopez Tushar Hispanic Legacy Research Center in Denver was named in her honor.