Category Archives: News

Archives Month: Avenues of Salt Lake City

All Events for Utah Archives Month | RSVP on Facebook | Get Directions

Friday, October 12, 2012
12 noon

Salt Lake City’s oldest residential historic district is a neighborhood known as the Avenues. During the late nineteenth century this area was home to many of the most influential citizens of Salt Lake City. Built from 1860 until 1930, it contains a mix of middle and upper middle class homes of varying architectural styles. This architectural diversity makes the Avenues unique among Utah’s historic districts. For the past thirty years, as citizens have rediscovered the value of living in historic properties near downtown and the University of Utah, preservation efforts have soared in the area.

In 1980, the Avenues was established as a historic district and the Utah Historical Society published The Avenues of Salt Lake City. That book’s authors, Karl T. Haglund and Philip F. Notarianni, gleaned much about the area’s history by using information found on the historic district applications. This newly revised edition of The Avenues of Salt Lake City by Cevan J. LeSieur updates the original with a greatly expanded section on the historic homes in the neighborhood, including more than 600 new photos, and additional material covering the history of the Avenues since 1980.

The book is designed so that readers can take it along as a guide when exploring the neighborhoods. All the pictures of Avenues homes are accompanied with architectural information and brief histories of the properties. This volume makes a valuable resource for those interested in the history of the Avenues and its diverse architecture, and for anyone interested in Utah history, Utah architecture, and historic preservation.

Cevan Lesieur is a native of Salt Lake City and a resident of the Avenues neighborhood where he and his wife Heather have restored two homes.


Holiday Closure: Columbus Day

The Research Center will be closed Monday, October 8,  2012 in observance of Columbus Day. It will open again Tuesday, October 9, 2012 at 9:00 a.m.


Archives Month: Year of the Newspaper

All Events for Utah Archives Month | RSVP on Facebook | Get Directions

Monday, October 1, 2012
12 noon

With more than 1,300,000 pages of Utah newspapers now scanned it is feared the convenience of digital access will doom the surviving paper copies to the trash where they will be lost to future generations of researchers. Marriott Library, Lee Library, Utah State Archives, and Utah Press Association are working together to help prevent this irreparable loss. Randy will speak on the importance of this project as well as methods for individuals and institutions to participate.

Randy Silverman has worked in the field of book conservation since 1978. He has served as the Preservation Librarian at the University of Utah’s Marriott Library since 1993 and is a member of the University’s Emergency Operations Center. He has and holds a masters degree in Library Science and teaches as adjunct faculty for Emporia State University and the University of Arizona. As a member of the Western States Preservation Assistance Service he teaches Disaster Preparedness workshops in Utah, Wyoming, and Montana and in 2007 was awarded the Utah Humanities Council’s “Human Ties Award.”

This event will be held at noon in the State Archives Courtyard Meeting Room, 346 South Rio Grande, Salt Lake City, UT 84101-1106

Also, find out more about the Utah Book Festival that is about to commence.


Research Center Closure

In order for staff to attend the 60th Annual Utah State History Conference, the Research Center will be closed Friday, September 21, 2012. It will open again Monday, September 24 at the usual 9 a.m.

Please feel free to join us at the conference–a free event!


Holiday Closure: Labor Day

The Research Center for the Utah State Archives and Utah State History will be closed Monday, September 3, 2012 for Labor Day.

It will open again Tuesday, September 4, 2012 at 9 a.m. Meanwhile, there are many research materials available online anytime in digital archivesname indexes, guides, and inventories.


Utah Archives Month 2012

The calendar for Utah Archives Month is now being updated for October 2012 events at utaharchivesmonth.org. The events hosted by the Utah State Archives and Utah State History have been posted (including on Facebook):

  • 10/1/2012 – Randy Silverman: Year of the Newspaper
  • 10/12/2012 – Cevan LeSieur: “The Avenues of Salt Lake City”
  • 10/15/2012 – Brock Cheney: “Plain But Wholesome: Foodways of the Mormon Pioneers”
  • 10/19/2012 – Jim Kichas: “Utah’s MX Moment”
  • 10/24/2012 – Matt Basso: “Men At Work”

All events are free and open to the public.

Utah Archives Month is on Facebook and Twitter.


Territorial Third District Case File Index Online

The territorial CASE INDEX for the Third District Court is now online. It records the names of plaintiffs and defendants involved in court actions and provides assigned case numbers, facilitating clerical management of and access to the case files. Civil cases span the entire period (1871-1896). Criminal cases were indexed in this series from 1871 to 1882, when a separate filing arrangement for criminal case files was implemented.

The index is useful for finding case files from the Third District up until 1896, which traditionally has included Salt Lake County.

Third District


Enabling Act for State of Utah Now Online

As part of the records of the 1895 Constitutional Convention, a high-resolution digital copy of the Federal Enabling Act that led to Utah becoming a state is now online in the Utah Digital Archives.

In July 1894, the U.S. Congress enacted a law to enable the territory of Utah to be admitted into the Union as a state. The act spelled out the calling of a convention composed of 107 delegates to meet beginning in March 1895 to draw up a state constitution. These records are the papers of that convention. They include a copy of the federal enabling act; roll call; transcripts, published and unpublished, of the proceedings; files of proposals, petitions, and other recommendations for inclusion in the state constitution; and a limited number of committee reports, minutes and notes.

Statehood Constitutional Convention (1895)

See also Road to Statehood Exhibit – Enabling Act and History of the Constitutional Convention (1895)


Evidence From A Transatlantic Friendship

A Thank-You Gift from France

In 1949 a small boxcar arrived in Salt Lake City, a gift from the people of France.  Just after the end of World War II a train had traveled across America, collecting donations for war-devastated Europe.  Several years later, as a token of appreciation for the American assistance, a collection of boxcars known as the “Merci Train” arrived from France, filled with gifts.  The 49 boxcars had been used in World War I and were known as “Forty and Eights” because they could be used to transport 40 men or 8 horses.  One boxcar was to be sent to each of the 48 states and the remaining car was to be divided between the District of Columbia and the Territory of Hawaii.

Union Station in Ogden.

When Utah’s boxcar arrived, Governor J. Bracken Lee formally accepted the gift on behalf of the people of Utah.  The varied contents, including dolls, folk costumes, embroidery work, wine, books, crystal, and artwork, were placed on display for the public to see.  Today, a small collection of gifts from the boxcar is held by the Utah State Archives. 

Most of these items are currently on display at the Utah State Railroad Museum in the Ogden Union Station.  The items include a number of books relating the history, scenery, and culture of France.  The collection also includes medals, artwork, and a number of felt stars embroidered with the names of French and American cities.

What Happened to Utah’s Merci Train Boxcar?

After the Utah boxcar was emptied of its treasures, it ended up on display in Salt Lake City’s Memory Grove.  Over the years exposure to the elements took its toll.  In order to protect the car, it was repainted, but the original colorful detailing was covered over.  As part of the restoration of Memory Grove following the tornado that tore through the area in 1999, the Merci Train boxcar was removed from the park.  In 2006 volunteers completed a restoration of the boxcar and it was placed on the grounds of the Ogden Union Station, where it can be seen today.

The restored Merci Train boxcar.

The Mystery of the Remaining Merci Train Gifts.

The committee appointed by Governor Lee to oversee the contents of the Merci boxcar decided that after the initial public display in Salt Lake, the gifts would be divided up and dispersed among the state’s 29 counties so that more people would be able to see them.  The final fate of these dispersed gifts is unknown.  The gifts sent to the counties were presumably displayed for a time, but have been lost since then.  Perhaps some ended up in the collections of local museums or were distributed to residents.  Furthermore, the records of the Merci Train Committee have been lost as well, so there is no known inventory of the contents of the boxcar or any documentation of how the items were dispersed.  The only Merci Train gifts known to survive in Utah are in a the collection held by the Utah State Archives, but the most significant and expensive of the gifts are not among them.  Undoubtedly, many of the finest gifts are still out there, perhaps unidentified or in private hands.

Do You Know Anything About the Lost Merci Train Gifts?

Have you ever seen anything in some scattered corner of the state that might have come from the Merci Train?  If you have, we would love to hear about it.

More Information

For more information about the Merci Train and the gifts that have survived, you can visit the exhibit at the Utah State Railroad Museum, peruse the inventory of items held by the Utah State Archives at http://archives.utah.gov/research/inventories/20732.html , and read an article about Utah’s Merci Train boxcar in Beehive History 23 at http://utah.ptfs.com/awweb/main.jsp?flag=browse&smd=1&awdid=1 .


Death Certificates for 1959-1960 Indexed by Name

Researchers may now search for death certificates by name for 1959-1960. Previously, images have been available for browsing. Thanks to one of our volunteer indexers, one may look for a death record by name, date, or county.


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