Category: History

America Comes to the War, 1917

As many probably already know, 2017 is the 100th anniversary of the United States entering the Great War, later known as World War I. Our country was forever changed by the events of the Great War. Today’s social, cultural, economic, and political landscapes can be attributed in part to those events.  Over the next year and a half, the Utah Division of Archives and Records Service will be highlighting record series related to the war to help us understand this period of time  and the role local communities played in the larger conflict.

Today, April 6th,  is the official anniversary of Congress’ announcement to enter the war.

This was a drastic change from the President’s plea for neutrality, made less than three years earlier. At the beginning of the war, Wilson urged Americans to remain neutral “during these days that are to try men’s souls,”1  and, while war raged in Europe, public opinion in our country was fractured. There were groups that sympathized with our European Allies and supported our entrance into the war. Other groups had family or friends still living in the countries under the rule of the Central Powers and wanted the United States to remain neutral. The isolationists, a third group, also felt that this conflict was not our business or our problem and that our country should not be involved at all.

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145th Field Artillery scrapbook, Series 10339

Over the next three years, a number of factors contributed to Wilson’s change of mind. But America’s road to war is a topic so broad that historians have been writing books about it for decades. A select set of titles are offered below. All of these factors culminated in Wilson’s address to a Joint Session of Congress on April 2, 1917.
Wilson’s forceful words were a ringing endorsement of protecting not only our country, but others who had suffered for trying to remain neutral as well; he asserted that Germany’s current tactics were “a warfare against all mankind… a war against all nations.”2  

[America’s previous stance of neutrality was] no longer reasonable or desirable where the peace of the world [was] involved and the freedom of its peoples, and the menace to that peace and freedom [lay] in the existence of autocratic governments backed by organized force…controlled wholly by their will, not by the will of their people.3

Yet Wilson’s call to action was also a call for caution and moderation. America’s “motive [would] not be revenge or the victorious assertion of the physical might of the nation, but only the vindication of right, or human right, of which we are only a single champion.”4

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145th Field Artillery scrapbook, Series 10339

Wilson’s words led to days of discussion throughout our country. From conversations around home fires to conversations in Congress, Americans were deeply invested in the outcome. Newspapers ran story after story about the ongoing war, U.S. responsibilities, and the danger of Germany and her allies.
On April 6th, America officially entered the war as a result of votes in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Their resolution committed “all of the resources of of the country” to bringing “the conflict to a successful termination.”5

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145th Field Artillery scrapbook, Series 10339

Wilson immediately signed the resolution and issued a War Proclamation later that same afternoon, which also identified “alien enemies” living within the United States, and outlined how they could expect to be treated.6

The events of April 6, 1917, still have an impact today. As we commemorate the various anniversaries, we hope to document and help facilitate better understanding of  the role that Utahans played in the conflict and how the larger conflict affected Utah.

Upcoming posts will continue to highlight the images found in the 145th Field Artillery scrapbook, found in the State Archives’ permanent collection as we prepare it for online access through our Digital Archives.

You can learn more about World War I and the Centennial Commemoration events around the our country at the following links:

As noted above, here are a few books about the U.S.’s decision to enter the Great War:

  • America 1914 – 1917 by Walter Millis (1935)
  • America’s Entry Into World War I: Submarines, Sentiment, Or Security? by Herbert J. Bass (1964)
  • Over Here: The First World War and American Society by David M. Kennedy (1980)
  • Nothing Less Than War: A New History of America’s Entry into World War I (Studies In Conflict Diplomacy Peace) by Justus D. Doenecke (2011)
  • The Zimmermann Telegram: Intelligence, Diplomacy, and America’s Entry into World War I  by Thomas Boghardt (2012)
  • America’s Greatest Blunder: The Fateful Decision to Enter World War One by Burton Yale Pines (2013)
  • The United States in World War I: America’s Entry Ensures Victory by Jane H. Gould (2014)

Notes

  1. Woodrow Wilson: “Message on Neutrality,” August 19, 1914. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project.http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=65382.
  2. Utah National Guard, 145th Field Artillery scrapbook, 1917-1918, President Wilson’s Message Asking Congress to Declare that a State of War Exists with Germany, Utah State Archives and Records Service, Series 10339.
  3. Ibis.
  4. Ibis.
  5. Utah National Guard, 145th Field Artillery scrapbook, 1917-1918,Text or Resolution passed by Congress, Utah State Archives and Records Service, Series 10339.
  6. Utah National Guard, 145th Field Artillery scrapbook, 1917-1918, President Wilson Issues Proclamation that a State of War Exists, Utah State Archives and Records Service, Series 10339.

Sources

The American Presidency Project. “Woodrow Wilson: “Message on Neutrality,” August 19, 1914. Accessed March 31, 2017, at http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=65382.

National World War I Museum and Memorial. U.S. Enters the War. Accessed March 31, 2017, at https://www.theworldwar.org/us-enters-war.

Utah National Guard. 145th Field Artillery scrapbook, 1917-1918. Utah State Archives and Records Service. Series 10339.

Japanese Internment in Utah

AFTERSHOCKS OF PEARL HARBOR When Japanese forces attacked the U.S. naval base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on December 7, 1941, a chain of events was set in motion that would permanently alter the directions of each country and its citizenry. Pearl Harbor led to direct U.S. involvement in World War II, drawing millions of U.S. […]

Ogden Police Department Arrest and Jail Record Books Online

 

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The Utah State Archives is pleased to announce that an assortment of arrest and jail record books from the Ogden Police Department have been digitized and are now available online for public access. These record books, dating from 1902 to 1941, document arrests made, and prisoners held, by the Ogden City Police Department. Arrest Record Books and Record of Prisoners Books include: name of person arrested, name of arresting officer, time and place of arrest, charge, and fine or punishment given. The Criminal Record Books and Prisoner Identification Records document individuals held by the police department and may include a prisoner number, mug shot, and the prisoner’s physical description. The two Criminal Record Books available were maintained by two different sections of the police department and contain nearly identical information and photos for the time period they both cover.

Design and Construction of the Utah State Capitol

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Utah Archives Month is nearing its end for 2016, and the Utah State Archives is ending its month-long focus on the Utah State Capitol with information on two new additions to the Digital Archives that help tell the story of how the Capitol Building was designed and constructed.

Beginning in 1909, the Capitol Commission initiated a design competition for the purpose of selecting an architect to design Utah’s State Capitol building. Architects who wished to participate were required to demonstrate that they possessed the necessary expertise by submitting examples of their work. Those that were approved to participate received a Program of Competition outlining the rules of the competition and the design program for the proposed capitol. Records from this design competition are now available online, and include the rules for the design contest, photographic examples of work done by interested architects, booklets and photographs showing the proposed capitol designs submitted by various competitors, and a sampling of the Program of Competition booklets returned by architects who intended to enter the competition.

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Design competition drawing for the Capitol submitted by Watkins, Birch, Kent, Eldredge, and Chesebro

Ultimately, Utah-based architect, Richard Kletting’s design was selected from those entered into the design competition, and construction on the building commenced with a groundbreaking ceremony on December 26, 1912. Over the next four years the Utah State Capitol was built, using Kletting’s construction plans, which are now available online through the Digital Archives. These original building plans are diverse and include plans for framing, various construction details, columns and stone work, dome framing, foundation and footings, cross-sections, and building elevations from various angles.

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E. E. Meyers Proposed Capitol Design

The Capitol That Almost Was: The Board of Commissioners on Capitol Grounds, 1888-1896

The Utah State Archives holds records of the Capitol Grounds Commission, including minutes and financial records.  These records document the virtually forgotten efforts to construct a territorial capitol in the early 1890s.  With the 100th anniversary of the State Capitol dedication being celebrated this month, … Continue reading The Capitol That Almost Was: The Board of Commissioners on Capitol Grounds, 1888-1896

Minutes of the Capitol Commission Online

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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.

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!).

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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!

1875-1876 John D. Lee Case File Online

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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

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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.

Top Baby Names in Utah 1909 Edition

Birth certificates issued by the Utah Office of Vital Records and Statistics in 1909 are now online and freely available to the public. The searchable index and digital images may be accessed from archives.utah.gov/research/indexes/81443.htm.

And that means it’s time to see the most popular baby names that were given in 1909 (see 1905, 1906, 1907, and 1908).

All girl names with larger sizes for most popular.

Girls

  1. Mary
  2. Ruth
  3. Helen
  4. Alice
  5. Dorothy
  6. Florence
  7. Margaret
  8. Edna
  9. Ethel
  10. Grace
All boy names with larger sizes for most popular.

Boys

  1. William
  2. John
  3. James
  4. George
  5. Joseph
  6. Charles
  7. Harold
  8. Robert
  9. Thomas
  10. Clarence