UCB Libraries

Klauder: Buckingham Library

Featured Collections:
         Josie Heath Papers

Josie Ward Heath, born in San Jose, California in 1937, was raised in Forest Grove, Oregon by her mother for the early part of her life.  Throughout her childhood and youth, Heath was exposed to inequality and social injustice which had a powerful effect on her career.

Heath was educated at Eastern Oregon State College (Education, magna cum laude, 1959) and University of Wisconsin at Madison (MS 1960).1 She met her husband, S. Rollins (Rollie) Heath, Jr., during graduate school. In 1962, Rollie joined the military and the two were stationed in Texas.  Here, Heath became a counselor at a local high school.  Heath was invited to a Student Council Association during her time at the El Paso high school, which she utilized as an opportunity to organize for civil rights.2In 1970, Rollie Heath ended his active duty with the Army and the Heath family moved to Colorado where he obtained a job at Armco Steel.  The Heaths had three children: Stratton, Kristen and Joel. Josie Heath balanced her roles as mother, educator and activist. In Boulder, she began her political career by distributing pamphlets and becoming involved in community endeavors, such as Books With Options.3  During this period, Heath helped to organize and lead many community organizations.  In 1974, she became one of the founders and the President of the Boulder County Women’s Resource Center and in 1975, she was the Vice President of the Boulder County United Way.  She also served on the Board of Directors for organizations such as Eco-Cycle, the Boulder County YWCA, the American Association of University Women, the Colorado Commission on Women, the Aton Foundation, and the Community Resource Center.4 


Heath continued her outreach work when she was appointed director of the Women’s Resource Center at Red Rocks Campus of Community College of Denver from 1975 to 1979.5  While at Red Rocks, Heath was also the Project Director for Non-Traditional Careers for Women in 1976.  From 1976 to 1979, Heath’s community service also included her work as Presidential appointee for the U.S. Circuit Court Judicial Selection Committee.  In 1979, Heath was appointed by President Jimmy Carter as Denver regional director for ACTION, which was a federal agency for volunteer service.  Heath administered a $7 million budget developed programs for volunteers, transportation, economic development, and housing.6


Throughout the 1970’s, Heath was very active in politics.  Some of her work included Boulder County Precinct Committeeperson (1971-1976), Outlying Precinct Coordinator (1973-1976), Chair for the Boulder County Democratic Party Get Out the Vote (1974).  From 1972 to 1978, Heath worked on campaigns for various Democratic candidate, including, Ruth Correll when she ran for Senate District 23 (1972), the Richard Lamm for Governor campaign (1974 & 1978), Gary Hart for the U.S. Senate (1974), and for Tim Wirth (1974, 1976, & 1978).  Heath focused on her own political aspirations when she ran for the Colorado Senate District 23 in 1976.  In 1982 and again in 1986, Heath was elected Boulder County Commissioner and in 1990, Heath ran for Colorado State Senator.7


In the 1980’s, Heath continued her community activism and was a chair for Urban Issues, Colorado Counties, Incorporated, the Economic Futures Panel, the Boulder County Consortium of Cities, and was a member of the Board of Directors for the Metropolitan Urban Drainage and Flood Control District.  In recent years, Heath has also worked for community organizations and on committees, including the Knight Foundation Community Advisory Committee (CAC) and the Urgent Action Fund as a volunteer.  Heath has also stayed active in politics.  In 2002, she helped Rollie run for Colorado State Governor and in 2004, Heath and her husband were delegates at the 2004 Democratic National Convention.  Throughout her life, Heath has worked on a personal, societal and political level to create change for women, children, and community in general. 


The Josie Heath Collection contains personal material, papers related to her political or social activism work, information about women, such as the Equal Rights Amendment, aging, employment, and childcare, and women agencies.  Also included are magazines, photographs, pamphlets, and newspaper articles, correspondence, minutes, and notes of the US Circuit Court nominating commission, and the resumes of the applicants for US Circuit Court Judge.  The collection contains files on CU affirmative action 1978-1981. Her political campaign files are organized in chronological order by specific elections Heath participated in as a candidate, voter, or volunteer.  The collection holds her papers as Boulder County Commissioner 1982-87.


1 “Worth the Risk” by Martha Hardesty, Josie Heath Collection, 1-1, Archives, University of Colorado at Boulder Libraries.


2 Ibid.


3 “Underdog Heath in fight against history, money,” The Sunday Denver Post, October 28, 1990, Josie Heath Collection, 24-8, Archives, University of Colorado at Boulder Libraries.


4 Resume, Josie Heath Collection, 1-3, Archives, University of Colorado at Boulder Libraries.


5 “Underdog Heath in fight against history, money,” The Sunday Denver Post, October 28, 1990, Josie Heath Collection, 24-8, Archives, University of Colorado at Boulder Libraries


6 Resume, Josie Heath Collection, 1-3, Archives, University of Colorado at Boulder Libraries.


7 Ibid.