Born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah, David N. Wetzel received his B.A. and M.A. degrees in English literature (with a graduate emphasis in creative writing) at the University of Utah and achieved candidacy for the Ph.D. (ABD) in American studies at the University of Minnesota. While in graduate school he taught English composition, technical writing, and religion in American life.
Joining the Colorado Historical Society (now History Colorado) in 1980, Wetzel became part of an interpretive team working on a 30,000-square-foot exhibition on Colorado history, and he developed exhibit components on childhood in Colorado and Denver’s first significant architect, Robert S. Roeschlaub. Both of these exhibits eventually led to the publication of Robert S. Roeschlaub: Architect of the Emerging West, 1843-1923 (1988) and I Looked in the Brook and Saw a Face: Images of Childhood in Early Colorado (2002). Wetzel also provided a description and analysis of Plains Indian ledger art for Cheyenne Dog Soldiers: A Ledgerbook History of Coups and Combat (1997).
Appointed chief editor in 1983, Wetzel directed the historical society’s publications program until his retirement in 2006. As part of his responsibilities, he developed the conceptual framework for a ten-year, decade-by-decade exhibition on the twentieth century in Colorado (1991-2000) and was project director for Timescape, a geographical study of Colorado’s past using dual lasers playing on a large-scale relief map of the state (2005).
Currently Wetzel is researching a true-crime memoir, tentatively called “The Queen and the Cowboy,” about a sensational Salt Lake City murder trial in which he testifed for the prosecution in 1963. He now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, not far from his son, Richard, and grandchildren Janey and Griffin.