Category: Digital Archives

Minutes of the Capitol Commission Online

Members of the Utah Capitol Commission  during the laying of the cornerstone in 1914 (series 11275)

We are now midway through Archives Month, and the Utah State Archives continues to direct its focus and activities on celebrating the 100th year anniversary of the Utah State Capitol. This week we would like to share information on another new addition to the Digital Archives that documents the earliest planning and construction of “the people’s building.”

The Capitol Commission was formed in 1909 and authorized to select a suitable design for the building, and oversee the execution of plans and specifications for the erection of a State Capitol building on the Capitol grounds in Salt Lake City.

The minutes of the Capitol Commission have been digitized and are now available for online research through the Digital Archives. These minutes document the formal meetings of the Capitol Commission between 1909 and the completion of the Capitol in 1916. Meeting minutes record the names of members present at meetings, rules for a design competition for the building, information on outside consultants utilized during the planning and construction stages, expenses incurred by commission members in furtherance of their duties, group discussions about bids and the issuing of contracts, agreements for expenditures, and a list of the original cornerstone contents placed during building construction in 1914.

Second District: Weber County Index to Civil Actions Online


Created by the Second District Court in Weber County to record the names of the parties involved in civil actions and provide assigned case numbers, the Index to Civil Actions is now online. Volumes in the series alternate listings on each page, with the left page listing entries by surname of the plaintiff and the right page by surname of the defendant. Specific information recorded for each case includes the docket number (case number) as well as the corresponding register of action book.

The index is useful for finding case files from the Second District from the territorial period up to about 1970.

Capitol Commission Photographs Online

The Utah State Archives is pleased to kickoff Utah Archives Month with the first in a month-long blog series spotlighting records in our holdings that tell the story of the construction of Utah’s State Capitol building (celebrating its 100th year anniversary this month!).

The dome of the Utah State Capitol under construction in 1914.

This week we are highlighting photographs from the Capitol Commission which document the construction of the State Capitol. The majority of series 11275 contains pictures of the finished capitol building, ground breaking ceremony, initial excavation of the construction site, and individuals involved in the construction process. The collection also holds a unique commemorative photograph album produced by Shipler’s Commercial Photographs of Salt Lake City which was presented to commission members. The album documents the various phases of construction and construction details including cement, granite, and marble work, monoliths, interior details, phases of arch and dome construction, and numerous pictures from various angles of the exterior.

Stay tuned throughout October as we continue to tell the story of the construction of Utah’s State Capitol through the archival records held by the Utah State Archives!

Turning Point: 100-Year-Old Records Give Evidence of Revolution in Utah Medical Regulation

Guest post by Wendy Brimhall The Utah State Archives recently posted digital images of an interesting set of records from Weber County. Around the turn of the 20th century, the State Legislature began creating laws requiring dentists and optometrists to receive Board of Examiner certificates in … Continue reading Turning Point: 100-Year-Old Records Give Evidence of Revolution in Utah Medical Regulation

1875-1876 John D. Lee Case File Online

John D. Lee (seated) awaiting his execution at Mountain Meadows on March 28, 1877 (source Wikimedia Commons)

The Utah State Archives is pleased to announce that the historic Territorial Second District Court case file pertaining to the trial and conviction of John D. Lee for his role in the Mountain Meadows Massacre has been digitized and posted online on the Digital Archives.

The records in this case file cover Lee’s first trial that began in July 1875 and ended in a hung jury, as well as the subsequent second trial where blame for the massacre was placed squarely on Lee, which led to his conviction and a sentence of death by firing squad.

The Mountain Meadows Massacre occurred in September 1857. The Baker-Fancher emigrant party, traveling through Utah on their way to California (from Arkansas), was attacked by members of the local Iron County Militia and some local Paiute Indians. The emigrants fought back and a five day siege ensued. On the fifth day members of the wagon train were lured out under a banner of truce and massacred under orders from local militia leaders. All told one hundred and twenty men, women, and children over the age of seven were slaughtered. Seventeen infants and young children were spared and taken into the homes of local Mormon families (before eventually being united with extended family members outside of Utah).

For nearly two decades no one was brought to justice for the crimes committed at Mountain Meadows. The official story from Mormon officials became that the massacre was conducted solely by local Paiute Indians. Prior to the massacre John D. Lee had been a prominent pioneer in building up the Mormon communities of Southern Utah, but after a federal judge began investigating the massacre in 1858 he went into hiding.

By 1870 pressure was mounting on Federal officials to bring those responsible for the massacre to justice. At this time Lee was officially excommunicated from the LDS Church and given instruction by Brigham Young to make himself scarce in Northern Arizona.

With passage of the Poland Act in 1874, Mormon control over the Territorial justice system was loosened. John D. Lee was arrested and brought to trial in the Second Territorial District Court in Beaver.

The case records that are now online from series 24291 trace the procedural history of the Lee trials. During the first trial the prosecution attempted to pin blame for the Mountain Meadows Massacre largely on the Mormon hierarchy, with Brigham Young as a central figure. In spite of the defense offering an often incoherent narrative of the massacre, the jury of eight Mormon’s, one former Mormon, and three non-Mormon’s ended up hung (with all but the three non-Mormon’s voting to acquit).

The second trial of John D. Lee was radically different from the first. The prosecution pinned blame for the events at Mountain Meadows squarely on Lee, and contended that Lee was the driving force behind planning and carrying out the execution. Resigned to the fact that he was being made a scapegoat for the massacre at Mountain Meadows, Lee requested that no defense be made on his behalf. He was ultimately found guilty of first degree murder by an all-Mormon jury. On March 28, 1877, John D. Lee was taken to Mountain Meadows where he was executed by firing squad. His body was then taken to Panguitch, Utah for burial.

SLC School Children’s Constitution and Flag Monument Books Now Available Online


Just in time for back to school season, the Utah State Archives is pleased to make available a fascinating collection of student-created records through our online Digital Archives. These 1932-1952 school children’s Constitution and Flag Monument books were compiled by the Salt Lake City School District to document and commemorate the erection of the School Children’s Constitution and Flag Monument on the west side of Washington Square (in front of the Salt Lake City and County Building). The monument was completed in 1937 and included a flag pole with a sculpture of two children with the United States Constitution standing at the base, and one of the children pointing up toward the flag. School children donated money to fund the monument and local children acted as models for the sculpture.

In 1936 each school in the city compiled a list of students and what occupation each aspired to when they grew up. These lists were sealed in a time capsule in the monument when it was dedicated in 1937. The books in this series were compiled after the time capsule was opened in 1952. They include copies of newspaper articles about the erection of the monument and photographs of the dedication in 1937 and the opening of the time capsule in 1952. They also contain documentation of efforts to erect a flag pole not only at the City and County Building, but at each school in the district as well.

Soundex Birth Index Online

Even with indexes to Utah birth certificates, there is an additional research tool for births recorded before 1934. That is when as part of a Works Progress Administration project all birth certificates in Utah since 1904 were indexed and published in several volumes. Specialists in vital statistics still use these books as an aid to locating a birth record. Arrangement is by Soundex code number. Within an individual code number, volumes are indexed by the father’s first given name. The information includes the child’s name, the mother’s maiden name, the child’s sex and birth date, the county of birth, the file number, the cross index name, and the father’s name.

This collection provides online access to the first four volumes for 1904-1914. The birth certificates from these years are now public.


More Salt Lake City Tax Assessment Books Online

Tax Assessment book from Salt Lake City. The "duplicate" is an entirely handwritten copy of the year's assessment.
Tax Assessment book from Salt Lake City. The “duplicate” is an entirely handwritten copy of the year’s assessment.

Additional books for Salt Lake City tax assessment from 1879 to 1892, after which this function moved to county offices, are now online. These volumes record the assessment of real and personal property Salt Lake City, Utah Territory. They were used for taxing purposes. Individual city assessors assessed and collected property taxes within municipal boundaries, often recording the details such as the number of horses owned.

Previously, books from 1856 to 1878 were digitized by FamilySearch.

If you are interested in volunteering to help complete a name index of these books, please contact Gina Strack.

Territorial Militia Card Index Online

A card from the Territorial militia records index.
A card from the Territorial militia records index.

The Utah Territorial Militia Records document the administration and activities of various segments of the territorial militia, also known as the Nauvoo Legion. They were brought together by archives staff in the late 1950s and early 1960s in an effort to collect all documents about Utah veterans from any source and to serve as a state repository for those documents.

The Military Records Center acquired the documents from the late 1950s into the early 1960s, rearranging and grouping them by document type, date, and/or military district. Indexes were prepared for most of the correspondence, but plans to index all documents were never completed. These card indexes were later microfilmed and provided one of the primary ways to access these records, even with partial coverage. That microfilm has now been digitized and posted online with full text searching of the typed name information.

Death Certificates for 1965 Indexed by Name

1965 death certificate books 150ppiResearchers may now search for death certificates by name for 1965. Thanks to our volunteers and staff, one may look for a death record by name, date, or county.

The death certificate collection was first released online in December 2006, covering 1904-1956 through a partnership with FamilySearch.  Since then, the Utah State Archives has added more years when they become public 50 years after the date of death. This may be done initially with browsing by county and date, similar to traditional research on microfilm. The final goal is always to be able to search by name and retrieve for free a digital copy of the death certificate record. The Archives updates the index continually based on comments and suggestions from users, ensuring that it is complete and accurate.