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Papers of Maurice L. Albertson

Identifier: WMLA

Scope and Contents

The Papers of Maurice L. Albertson consists of documents dated 1891 to 2009, with the bulk falling from 1940 to 2000. The documentation of Albertson's career and professional interests is voluminous but not comprehensive. Personal files related to Albertson's family and investments are minimal. Materials from Albertson's teaching and professional activities dominate the collection and include his committee work, professional organization activities, and conferences and workshops he organized, as well as his publications. Also here are records of non-profit organizations Albertson founded. Most of the documentation related to the Peace Corps, the Asian Institute of Technology, and the Office of International Programs was moved to other collections, so little on those topics can be found here.

The subjects best represented in the collection are civil engineering, education, and international development. Subjects represented in the later years include hydrogen and wastewater treatment. Material types include correspondence, reports, publications, maps, slides, photographs, audiotapes, videos, films, and artifacts.


  • Creation: 1891-2009
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1940-2000


Restrictions on Access

Due to the presence of student information in Subseries 1.1, some files require review before access is granted. Access to student information is open only to the student in question and to Colorado State University employees. However, access to others will be granted upon having written consent from the student or providing written proof that the student is deceased.

All "confidential" markings on correspondence or other materials have been determined to be for administrative purposes, not national security information; therefore, these materials are open for access.

One file in Series 9 is closed until 2034.

Restrictions on Use

Not all of the material in the collection is in the public domain. Researchers are responsible for addressing copyright issues.


Maury Albertson was a hydraulic engineering expert who helped Colorado State University (CSU) gain international recognition in a variety of research fields, including water resources management. Best known for his central role in establishing the Peace Corps, Albertson was also director of the CSU Research Foundation (CSURF) and was instrumental in expanding the university's water resources research program. A professor at CSU for more than sixty years, Albertson was an authority on water-related subjects ranging from reservoir sedimentation to improving water quality in developing countries. He was driven by solving people's problems with science.

Maurice Lee Albertson was born on August 30, 1918, in Hays, Kansas. His early interest in hydrology was nurtured by his father, Dr. Fred W. Albertson, a plant ecologist at Fort Hays State College. During the Dust Bowl years of the 1930s, Maury accompanied his father on field trips through western Kansas farmlands to assist drought-stricken farmers. During these trips, the younger Albertson was introduced to scientific research methods, the intricacies of irrigation techniques, and the importance of water management.

Albertson pursued these interests at Iowa State College, where he graduated in 1941 with a civil engineering degree. He went on to earn a master's degree in hydraulic engineering from the University of Iowa (1942) and then a Ph.D. (1948) under the tutelage of renowned water resources engineer Hunter Rouse. He gained practical experience along the way, working with the Tennessee Valley Authority, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the Soil Conservation Service. During World War II, Albertson registered as a conscientious objector. He served instead by conducting fog-dispersal experiments at the University of Iowa to help Allied aircraft land safely on London airstrips.

In 1947, Albertson joined the Department of Civil Engineering at Colorado A&M (now CSU). He taught numerous courses, at first mainly in hydrology but later encompassing a broad range of water-related subjects, including soil mechanics, irrigation systems, groundwater development, and environmental engineering. Albertson was an active professor known for conducting frequent class field trips, during which students observed firsthand the natural conditions and practical applications related to their studies.

At CSU, Albertson soon displayed not only aptitudes for teaching and research but also for promotion. In 1949, he negotiated a partnership between CSU and a Denver engineering firm to test hydraulic designs for the government of India. This initial contract enabled the university to refit its hydraulics laboratory, which had been empty since the Bureau of Reclamation relocated its headquarters to Denver in the late 1930s. Albertson, together with several colleagues and graduate student assistants, personally undertook the initial construction on the facility, and the lab was upgraded with new equipment and machinery. These improvements allowed the Department of Civil Engineering to compete for other, more lucrative research grants. As the federal government increasingly looked to universities for scientific knowledge, CSU became successful in attracting not only plentiful research contracts but also promising students and faculty.

Due to its rapid development in water resources research and training, the university soon looked to establish a Ph.D. program in civil engineering. Albertson again took the lead, writing the first instruction manual for doctoral students at CSU. Among Albertson's early students were A.R. Chamberlain, who later became president of the university, and Daryl B. Simons, who gained international recognition for his expertise in water resources engineering. Albertson also served as an advisor to many foreign students and helped establish CSU's International Center, a residential service for American and international students alike.

Meanwhile, the university's research opportunities continued to flourish. In 1958, Albertson was named director of the CSU Research Foundation, a position in which he continued to garner funding and recognition for the university's research and international development programs. He served in this position until 1963. In 1959, Albertson founded the SEATO Graduate School of Engineering in Bangkok (later renamed the Asian Institute of Technology), an institution designed to promote training in science and engineering. Then, in 1960, Albertson secured a highly competitive federal grant to assess the possibility of creating a national volunteer organization. The findings of the report submitted by Albertson's team became the foundation for the U.S. Peace Corps, created in 1961.

Albertson's professional activities both at home and abroad continued to gain momentum. His ongoing research in hydrology led to the publication of several books and educational papers, including his 1960 textbook Fluid Mechanics for Engineers. In 1963, he established the Office of International Programs at CSU to cope with the university's growing international commitments and activities and was its director for the first year. Additionally, Albertson's international work took him to dozens of countries around the world, where he conducted investigations and symposia on topics ranging from irrigated agriculture and hydraulic technology to sustainable development in rural communities.

Albertson also participated in numerous professional organizations, including the American Society for Civil Engineers, the American Society for Engineering Education, and the International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage's U.S. National Committee. His activities as a consultant were equally extensive. Albertson worked for organizations such as the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme, the Agency for International Development, and UNESCO. In 1993, he co-founded the International Institute for Sustainable Development and was president of the Consortium for Sustainable Village-Based Development. In addition, he edited, authored, or co-authored more than 200 books, proceedings, articles, and reports.

Dr. Albertson married twice (Myrtle Marie "Dolly" Campbell and later Audrey Faulkner) and had two daughters with his first wife. A Centennial Emeritus Professor at CSU, he retired from the university in 1977 but remained active in research and education until his death on January 11, 2009. His efforts reshaped water resources research at CSU and helped raise the university's profile as a scientific research institution, while his work in international development led to the creation of organizations and opportunities worldwide.


310 linear feet (198 record cartons, 2 document boxes, 19 photo boxes, 2 flat boxes, 10 clamshell boxes, 1 flat file)

Language of Materials



Maurice Albertson (1918-2009) was a hydraulic engineering expert who helped Colorado State University (CSU) gain international recognition in a variety of research fields, including water resources management. Best known for his central role in establishing the Peace Corps, Albertson was a CSU professor and administrator instrumental in expanding the university's water resources research program. The collection includes teaching materials; publications; records of professional and consulting activities; files reflecting his engineering, educational, and international development interests; personal documents, and much more. Material types include correspondence, reports, proposals, publications, maps, slides, photographs, audiotapes, videos, films, and artifacts. A portion of the collection is digitized and online.


Parts of the collection had some discernible order upon arrival, but most required a great deal of arranging. Some series or subseries were arranged to the box level rather than the folder level. The materials received in 2009 (Series 13) generally were not rearranged.

The collection consists of 13 series in 231 boxes and an oversize drawer:

Series 1: Colorado State University, 1905-1997 and undated

Subseries 1.1: Teaching materials, 1905-1991 and undated

Subseries 1.2: College and department files, 1938-1997 and undated

Subseries 1.3: University files, 1955-1996 and undated

Subseries 1.4: Project files, 1939, 1963-1978 and undated

Subseries 1.5: Proposals, 1960-1996 and undated

Subseries 1.6: International Programs Committee, 1964-1989 and undated

Subseries 1.7: International Center, 1962-1992 and undated

Subseries 1.8: Sigma Xi, 1961-1988

Series 2: Professional activities, 1933-1997 and undated

Subseries 2.1: Organizations, 1951-1999 and undated

Subseries 2.2: Conferences, workshops, and seminars, 1959-1998 and undated

Subseries 2.3: Travel, 1967-1979

Subseries 2.4: Consulting, 1933-1992

Series 3: International projects, 1946-1995 and undated

Subseries 3.1: General files, 1953-1994 and undated

Subseries 3.2: Country/project files, 1946-1995

Subseries 3.3: CUSUSWASH, 1960-1974 and undated

Series 4: Correspondence, 1947-1997 and undated

Series 5: Manuscripts, 1941-1998 and undated

Series 6: Company and nonprofit records, 1982-2003

Series 7: Printed materials, 1927-2000 and undated

Series 8: Subject files, 1951-1990 and undated

Series 9: Personal files, 1948-2000 and undated

Series 10: Audio/visual materials and media, 1900-2003 and undated

Subseries 10.1: Slides, 1943-1999 and undated

Subseries 10.2: Lantern slides, 1940-1958

Subseries 10.3: Photographs, 1900-2000 and undated

Subseries 10.4: Audio, 1961-2003 and undated

Subseries 10.5: Film, 1950-1977 and undated

Subseries 10.6: Video, 1980-2000 and undated

Subseries 10.7: Computer media, 1993-2003 and undated

Series 11: Oversize, 1891, 1929-1977 and undated

Series 12: Artifacts, 1953, 1963-1992 and undated

Series 13: 2009 accession, 1934-2009 and undated


The first part of the Papers of Maurice L. Albertson was donated to the Water Resources Archive in 2004 by Dr. Albertson. Additional accessions were received from Dr. Albertson in 2008 and from his widow Audrey Faulkner in 2009. An accession received in 1978 is housed at the Colorado State Archives and is not included here. Two student reports by Robert W. Saulmon were donated by him in 2022.


Materials appraised for removal included student reports and exams, printed materials, form letters, and slides. Generally, among the student reports only those having grades of B+ or better were retained. Printed materials (i.e., books, reports, articles, reprints, newsletters, newspapers, etc.) were retained only if they were by Albertson, significantly annotated, or uncommon and on the subject of water. A set of documents compiled as research for a book was not retained as it was primarily photocopies, reprints, and student reports that could be found elsewhere in the collection. Form letters and similar mass mailings received by Albertson were not retained. Slides that were not labeled and could not be identified were discarded; personal slides were returned to the family. From the 2009 accession, a large set of student files was not retained.

Online Materials

Some materials have been digitized and are available through the Colorado State University Libraries website. In the electronic version of this document, some direct links appear in context.

Related Collections

Related collections in the Water Resources Archive include the papers of CSU engineering professors Daryl B. Simons, Everett V. Richardson, Robert E. Glover, Vujica M. Yevjevich, Morton W. Bittinger, James F. Ruff, and Evan Vlachos.

Separated Collections

Some materials donated by Dr. Albertson in 2004 and in 2008 were separated to be combined with existing University Archive collections. These include: the Records of the Asian Institute of Technology (7 boxes); the Records of the Office of International Programs (11 boxes), and the Peace Corps Collection (7 boxes). Slides of the Peace Corps from the 2009 accession were moved to that collection. Materials Albertson inherited from colleague Bill Sayre were separated to create the Papers of William W. Sayre in the Water Resources Archive.


Processing of everything but the 2009 accession was completed in December 2009; some series were only minimally processed. The collection was rehoused in acid-free boxes and folders as necessary. Metal paperclips and binder clips were removed and replaced with plastic ones as necessary; rubber bands were removed. Duplicates past the first two were discarded, as were student grade sheets. Papers were removed from envelopes and from three-ring binders. Acidic papers were interleaved with acid-free paper. Photographs, negatives, and slides found with papers were relocated to their own series, except where minimally processed, or unless they were part of reports. All slides were sleeved and stored in photo album boxes. Media and artifacts were given archival storage as necessary. Materials in box 101 were cleaned of mold. Slides from the 2009 accession were processed during Summer 2010 and four boxes of manuscripts were minimally processed in December 2010.

Minimal processing of the remainder of the 2009 accession was completed in February 2020. Materials in folders generally were retained as received if deemed worth keeping. An attempt was made to sort loose materials into files by subject or material type, generally by box. Materials not retained include duplicates, reference files, files on event logistics, financial documentation, vendor materials, unopened mail, letters soliticing admission, mass emails, and internet printouts. Sensitive materials removed included student files, transcripts, a set of files on a tenure appeal, and peer reviews and some letters of recommendation written by Albertson. Social Security numbers were redacted where found. Some reference files in the P-W letter range were removed due to the presence of mold; those of significance or with less damage were cleaned and retained. Among the photographic materials, those removed included items used in publications, unidentified items, and generic items. Some commercial videotapes and audiotapes, or those recorded from television or the radio, were removed.

The 2022 donation was processed in December 2022 and added to the end of box 225.

Inventory Note

Note: Title information supplied by the archivist is bracketed. Estimated pagination is preceded by an "e." Two identical copies of the same item are indicated by the phrase "2 copies" at the end of the entry, following the number of pages of each copy. Authored articles, books, and studies are listed in bibliographic form.

Guide to the Papers of Maurice L. Albertson
Edited Full Draft
Prepared by Patricia J. Rettig, Nicolai Kryloff, and Demi R. Ball; revised by Patricia J. Rettig
Copyright 2022
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the CSU Libraries Archives & Special Collections Repository

Fort Collins Colorado 80523-1019 USA