Author: Rae Gifford

We’ve Moved!

We have moved

On October 1, 2017, the Utah Division of Archives and Records Service combined our two blogs into a single, new blog:

The Utah State Archives serves a diverse audience, yet we are a single institution. Our new blog is an effort to provide a single voice at a single location for all of our audiences. We will ensure that all can find the information they need, such as: preservation of records, research, administering the Utah State Historical Records Advisory Board, records management, training, GRAMA, and the Public Notice Website.

With that in mind we will no longer be posting at this web address. All new content will now be posted at Our older posts on the Researching the Utah State Archives blog will remain available while our support team works to seamlessly migrate them to the new website.

Our new blog will have a number of regular posts to highlight the different responsibilities of the Archives. Our processing team (including the Digital Archives) will post on interesting records, new finding aids and research guides, and archival best practices. Our records management team will post about training, best practices, and the popular Appointed Records Officer Spotlight. We will be adding posts on re-grant projects for the Utah State Historical Records Advisory Board, as well as quarterly reports from our reformatting team, our records center, and a variety of transparency issues.

Finally, our new blog has a number of subscription options that allows you to follow the information that pertains to your interests. Our current subscribers were moved already with instructions on updating their new profiles. Find more information on subscriptions at

We hope to see all of you over at!

The Annual History Conference is coming!

Join the Utah State Archives and Records Service on October 11th at this year’s free annual Utah History Conference, “Local Matters: Interweaving Historical Threads of Community,” sponsored by the Utah Division of State History.

Two of our own will be presenting this year. Alan Barnett will be highlighting historic homes with names and Jim Kichas will be part of a panel on the Archives’ Joe Hill records.

We hope to see you there!

To find more information on the program schedule and to register for the free conference, please visit State History’s conference page.

Our Website Is Working Again!!

Thank you for your patience.

Our Website Is Down

We are aware that our website is down and are currently working to fix it. We’re very sorry for the inconvenience. Thank you for your patience.

FREE Disaster Planning Workshop

Utah State Archives and Records Service Cold Storage, Flood Cleanup

As the devastating events of Hurricane Harvey have shown us, we have little control over the disasters that impact our lives and our records. The way we respond to these disasters dictates the continuity of our operations and the preservation of our cultural resources.

Yet, not all disasters come with hurricane-force winds or earthquake shakes. Just last spring the cold storage for the State Archives microfilm collections had a minor flood that required immediate response to dry out not only the storage area but some of the microfilm. While such “minor” events seem small, without immediate attention these situations could grow to major catastrophes.

Understanding that these events can happen to any institution at any time, the Western States and Territories Preservation Assistance Services (WESTPAS), in cooperation with the Utah State Archives and Records Service, will provide a free, 2-part disaster planning workshop as part of Archives Month.

Randy Silverman, Preservation Librarian at the University of Utah, will be teaching Protecting Cultural Collections: Disaster Prevention, Preparedness, Response, and Recovery, which focuses on helping local and state agencies and other heritage institutions to:

      • Complete a disaster response & collection salvage plan
      • Learn how to train staff to implement your plan effectively
      • Set pre- and post-disaster action priorities for your collections
      • Understand practical decision-making skills needed during an emergency
      • Experience salvage procedures for books, documents, photos & objects

Workshop specifics:

Part 1 of the workshop includes 2.5 hours of online webinars about prevention and preparedness. Participants can view the webinars on their own or join with others at the State Archives to view the webinars as follows:

      • Webinar 1: Friday, September 15, 2017, 10:00 am – 11:30 am
      • Webinar 2: Monday, October 16, 2017, 10:00 am – 11:30 am

For those who wish to view the webinars at the State Archives please register on the Archives Website.

Part 2 of the workshop includes a day-long seminar about response and recovery.

      • Monday, October 23, 2017 9:00 am – 4:00 pm

Participation in the in-person workshop requires viewing the online webinars BEFORE attending the Part 2 in-person workshop AND completing the workshop assignments given during the webinars.  Register Here for the in-person event. (This URL opens the WESTPAS calendar: register by clicking the month and day of the workshop desired.)

Who should attend?

Administrators and staff responsible for emergency preparedness and continuity of operations (COOP) planning, response, and decision-making should attend. This also includes local and state appointed records officers and chief administrative officers.

Participating institutions will be invited to join an informal network of WESTPAS trained personnel to provide mutual aid in the event of emergencies involving collections in your region.


This event is FREE for all attendees. The funding is provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities.


All individuals must register for the event.

Register to view the webinars at the State Archives here:

Register online for the in-person session at: URL opens the WESTPAS calendar: register by clicking the month and day of the workshop desired.)

 For assistance with registering for the webinar viewings at the State Archives contact: Rae Gifford,

For in-person seminar registration assistance contact: Wendy Cao,

For general & content information contact: Randy Silverman,, 801-585-6782

Jim Kichas Receives CoSA-Ancestry Leadership Award

At this year’s Council of State Archivists (CoSA) Annual Meeting Work Session in July our own Jim Kichas reported on his learning opportunities as part of the CoSA-Ancestry Leadership Award he had received. Patricia Smith-Mansfield and Ken Williams nominated Jim for the award to help him in his new position as Archives Manager here at the Utah State Archives and Records Service.

CoSA paired up with Ancestry to award the CoSA-Ancestry Leadership Award in an effort “to facilitate next generation leadership development.” The COSA-Ancestry leadership award funds a leadership opportunity for mid-level managers at state and territorial archives. The goal of these opportunities is to support the up-and-coming managers, to “improve job performance, professional knowledge and skills, and to enhance leadership capabilities, particularly as they relate to fostering collaboration, interdisciplinary project management and strategic thinking.”

With this understanding, Jim used his opportunity to attend a Dale Carnegie Leadership Training for Managers. This three-day training focused on a number of topics through interactive group training and exercises and was a prime opportunity for Jim to evaluate his personal leadership style.  Jim described it as

an important professional development opportunity that has led to real, identifiable changes in myself, my leadership style, and how that style directs action at my institution. My single biggest takeaway is that, while I’m far from a perfect leader, I do have the capability to learn from my successes and my mistakes and iteratively improve my overall leadership capacity and capabilities.

Congrats on your award, Jim!

The changes continue…..

Last week we said good-bye to Patricia Smith-Mansfield. This week we said hello to Kenneth Williams, appointed by the Governor’s Office as the new director of the Utah Division of Archives and Records Service. So, I sat down with Ken to talk to him about his past and what he sees as the Archives’ future.

Ken has been working with the Archives for a long time. He celebrated his 25th anniversary in July and loves it here. His favorite thing about our archives is our great staff and the chance he has to get his “hands dirty” working with the records.

Ken earned his bachelors and masters degrees from Utah State University. During his graduate studies in history, Ken’s mentor Dr. Norm Jones helped Ken secure a fellowship in the University’s Special Collections. Ken’s work with the Special Collections, under the guidance of  Brad Cole and the late A.J. Simmonds, cemented his love for the Archives. Eventually he enrolled at Florida State University to complete his post graduate course work.

Ken looks forward to his new position and the opportunities he has to build upon the solid archival foundation already in place here at the Archives. He hopes to continue to increase public access through Open Government initiatives and outreach opportunities with the goal of meeting the needs of all of our constituencies, both governmental and public. He is also going to work to have our archives certified as one of the few trusted digital repositories in the United States.

Thanks Ken for taking on the new responsibilities. Congratulations and good luck!

Looking back on the Labor Commission

Guest post by Archives and Records Service volunteer Dani Newton.  

I came to volunteer at the Utah State Archives and Records Service through a class I took this semester at Salt Lake Community College. We were required to spend a few hours every week at an archives and help with any projects.  I also had to pick my own research project and write a paper. I was not entirely sure what to expect when I started since it is pretty easy to get overwhelmed when you walk into the permanent repository, or even just listen to staff members list all of the ongoing projects as they try to figure out which one most needs an extra set of hands. I was assigned to process the Industrial Commission reports, which mostly focused on people who had been injured in mining accidents in Utah. Around the same time, while doing personal family research, I found documentation of some of my ancestors who had been killed in mining accidents, including my 2nd great-grandfather’s obituary, which listed a wife and six children still living. I began to wonder what happened in such situations. Did the company offer any kind of compensation to the family? Did the state or federal government? What about injuries? Were workers given any help or compensation? That is where the Industrial Commission comes in.

In 1916, the State Legislature allowed Governor William Spry to create a commission to investigate industrial accidents in Utah and the liability of the employers associated with the accidents. He was also to draft a tentative bill to create a permanent Commission to oversee industries and labor in Utah that would then be presented at the following session of the legislature. Governor Spry appointed the following men to his commission: Senator Don B. Colton of Vernal, Ira Browning of Castle Dale, Charles H. Pearson of Ogden, and R.C. Gemmell, H.B. Windsor, and H.K. Russell of Salt Lake City. These men were mostly from northern Utah while the rest of the state had little to no representation. According to a newspaper article published on July 2, 1916, the men of the commission also drew inspiration from other states that had passed similar bills around this time, such as Indiana, Kentucky, and West Virginia[1]. West Virginia was in a particularly bad situation because the state had funded it’s worker’s compensation. The state was bankrupted by over half a million dollars due to an overflow of claims from two large-scale mine accidents.

From January to March 1917, the debate over the bill was split between two factions. The majority, led by Senator Culbert L. Olson, believed that the new commission should have full control over the compensation funds.The minority, lead by Senator George H. Dern, argued that it would be more beneficial for the industries to go through regular insurance companies. Eventually, the minority’s version of the bill passed with the provision that any compensation should provide for 55 percent of an employee’s average weekly wage, not to exceed more than six years or $4,500 for temporary disability. The provision for individuals with a permanent, total disability included a payment of 55 percent of average weekly wage for five years after injury, then 40 percent of the average weekly wage until death.

July 1, 1917 was the official deadline for every company to have picked their insurance carrier and have their workman’s compensation setup. From then on, workers injured on the job or family members of workers killed during employment could apply to the commission for benefits.

Form C-7: First Report of Injury for Arvid Larson, Box 1, Folder 2, Utah State Archives and Records Service, Series 1005.

After an injury, the employer was required to file a claim that started with an injury report such as the one shown below. Each report had to include a variety of information such as the employer’s name, nature of the business, date of the injury, the worker’s nationality, if the injury occurred above or below ground, a description of the accident, and whether or not any unsafe conditions contributed to the accident. A surgeon’s report was also filed with each claim, giving a more detailed record of the injury and the injured worker’s level of disability, including whether it was a temporary or permanent injury, and any treatment going forward.

The Industrial Commission’s own published report states that the commission’s work contributed greatly to helping Utah’s economy by enforcing safety regulations, holding hearings for injured workers or their family members to claim benefits, and mediating disagreements between employers and employees.

“The experience we have had, since the Commission was installed, has convinced us beyond all question of doubt that strikes and lockouts are things that can be prevented if both the employer and the employee make an honest effort to get together. The result of our mediation during the past year, when several grave situations have been met with trouble, indicate the we have been the means of saving the State thousands of dollars and more serious loss through persuasion and conciliation, thus preventing imminent strikes and lockouts.” [2]

With the United States entering World War I in the same year, so much changed in the economy both throughout the country as a whole and in each state. It is difficult to say with certainty how much of an impact this individual bill had in Utah. One thing the Industrial Commission did provide, without a doubt, was an official channel through which working class families could seek financial support when a family member was injured or killed while working. As for my own ancestors, I have yet to find any evidence that their families received compensation after the accidents, though I am still holding out hope that further research will prove otherwise.


[1]”Workmen’s Compensation Bill is Being Shaped by Commission,” Salt Lake Telegram, July 02, 1916.

[2] Utah Secretary of State. Public documents serial set, 1896-1956. Report of the Industrial Commission of Utah Period July 1, 1917-June 30, 1918. Utah State Archives and Records Service. Series 240.

Other References

“Compensation Bill Passes after a Hot Debate.” Ogden Standard, March 07, 1917.

“Workmen’s Compensation Act Unanimously Passed by the Legislature.” Ogden Standard, May 26, 1917.

Utah Industrial Commission. Utah Industrial Commission Reports. Utah State Archives and Records Service. Series 1005.

Dani Newton is a volunteer at the Utah Division of State Archives and Records Service. Dani received her BA in history from Westminster College. She has continued her education at Salt Lake Community College and hopes one day to work full-time in an archives or museum. She is also a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and works with both the Golden Spike Chapter and Utah State Society Daughters of the American Revolution. 
As an intern, Dani completed several projects regarding the Labor Commission records. Her commitment to that project and others has continued after her internship was complete. Her volunteer efforts have provided more accessible records for researchers.

Goodbye and Good Luck!

Tricia’s time with the Utah State Archives has affected more than just policy and programs. This week I spent some time with our employees trying to understand the impact she has had on their lives.

When asked what they will miss most about working with Tricia, employees’ responses varied. Many commented on Tricia’s knowledge and her ability to defend the Archives and the laws that govern our state’s records management.  Others noted her positive and passionate personality. Employees noted her kindness, respect, and professionalism. As our microfilm technician Jim Duke said, “No matter if you were a [security] guard or a new employee she counted your opinion and listened.”

The employees also have a number of favorite memories over the years. While many recall her various costumes at the staff Halloween parties over the years, the Cruella DeVille shown here was fondly remembered by more than one employee, Tricia’s ability to recognize the importance of her employees was the most common theme among the memories. Small moments that impacted individuals in great ways were often remarked upon. Jim Kichas remembered her repeated encouragement and constant support just before and after the birth of his daughter. Janell Tuttle recalled how she was allowed to rearrange her schedule during one summer so she could help care for the new puppy she and her husband had just adopted.  Rosemary Cundiff recalled that when Tricia’s brother passed away Tricia still came to work to lead the staff retreat, even though the funeral was that same evening.  In these and many other ways Tricia has supported her staff and helped them to become the wonderful team that we are. As Heidi Stringham stated: “Tricia always had our back.”

Tricia’s unique personality and leadership skills will be remembered long after she has begun her relaxing retirement.

Today we had to say goodbye and Tricia finally allowed us to take her picture with her good-bye gift: A year’s supply of Diet Coke.

We will miss you and wish you all the best!