The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) launched a beta of its discovery portal and open platform on April 18, 2013. The portal delivers millions of materials found in American archives, libraries, museums, and cultural heritage institutions to students, teachers, scholars, and the public. The Utah State Archives has contributed hundreds of thousands of pages through its participation with the Mountain West Digital Library.
Far more than a search engine, the DPLA portal provides innovative ways to search and scan through its united collection of distributed resources. Special features include a dynamic map, a timeline that allow users to visually browse by year or decade, and an app library that provides access to applications and tools created by external developers using DPLA’s open data.
“The DPLA’s goal is to bring the entire nation’s rich cultural collections off the shelves and into the innovative environment of the Internet for people to discover, download, remix, reuse and build on in ways we haven’t yet begun to imagine,” said Maura Marx, Director of the DPLA Secretariat. “Regular users can search in the traditional way using the portal, and developers and innovators can build on big chunks of code and content using the platform—we’re creating access, not controlling it.”
The Unannotated Code is the complete, codified law statutes reflecting changes in the most recent session. It has been published since 1982, when it was recognized that the full annotated code was getting unwieldy just to check what the “law of the land” was for a certain year.
The Utah Code Annotated is, however, immensely valuable when it comes to research in the legislative process and how bills turn into law (and sometimes even the intent of the legislation). Unlike other records and publications that are produced by government agencies and preserved by the Utah State Archives, this publication represents the work of editors experienced with legal research, and is purchased for the use of research and future historical context. Supplements and replacement (“pocket parts”) are released a couple times a year.
Administrative Rules are created by agencies of the state’s executive branch and are enacted as laws under regulatory authority granted by the Legislature or the state Constitution. In short, the Legislature has created a method by which Executive branch agencies can codify their own policies and procedures and give them the force of law. Like the Utah Code, the Administrative Code is compiled with authorization by editors and published for the use of legal research. The most up-to-date information on rules is always found at http://www.rules.utah.gov.
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.
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 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.
OCLC Research wants to know how researchers (you) use archives and special collections. Complete this survey and be entered in a chance to win an Amazon Gift Card!
Please visit http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/W8MKXP9 to answer some questions about how you find – and find out about – websites and other research resources. The information you provide will help OCLC Research make it easier to discover materials in special collections.
Previous survey results were incorporated in the design of ArchiveGrid, a place to access descriptions and finding aids from hundreds of archives and special collections.
The Utah State Archives received a grant in 2010 to organize thousands of unknown microfiche. With the help of our wonderful volunteers this project is making great progress! Microfiche has been moved from metal storage cabinets, inventoried and organized by series. Volunteers are helping us view the microfiche, create descriptions and put them in archival boxes for patron use.
There have been several exciting finds: we have found a picture of the Boeing 377 Stratocruiser at the Salt Lake Airport from 1949, blueprints of the Utah State Capitol, executive orders from many governors, an indictment of Butch Cassidy and more!
The project has provided me with a crash course of processing, records management and the programs used. What was at first daunting to look at has become so familiar I occasionally find myself wondering why F8 doesn’t do the same thing on my home computer as it does for the APPX program. I have learned attention to detail is more crucial than I thought, and I already thought it was crucial. Not only could lacking attention causing simple mistakes (which can be problematic and frustrating enough in itself), but could lead to losing a record to a series in which it does not belong. Assigning a series to a record is important and requires careful consideration if the record is ever to be utilized.
Though records date back to 1916 and as current as 2003, we discovered most microfiche we have were produced in the late 1960’s thru the early 1980’s. Computer Output Microfiche, or COM fiche was used often by state agencies to keep track of information during those decades. It appears to have been so readily available that we have thousands of cards of occupational licenses. Normally these would not be put on microfiche, but in the 80’s and 90’s it must have been an easy way to keep these records considering the volume we have. Hopefully one day these will be of great value to genealogists.
All the microfiche has been assigned to a series, which being done feels like a new project has begun. Everything is starting to be labeled and finding aids will be created so these records can share their information with you.
In the immediate aftermath of World War II, the Department of War and the Department of the Navy both published national lists of casualties for the U.S. Army and Army Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. The intent was to disseminate the information to the general public in a timely manner, for the benefit of next of kin, and even with an eye towards the needs of veterans and patriotic organizations, who would–to quote the War Department–”find these lists of value in establishing or checking honor rolls in their communities.” The original publications are part of the large holdings of modern military records located at the National Archives at College Park, Maryland, but they have also been scanned and can be viewed in digital form[.] (blogs.archives.gov/online-public-access/?p=4553)
The Utah State Library through its Pioneer databases has made the entire set of the Laws of Utah available online. The restricted access requires a Utah library card. Once through, one may search and browse the session laws published each year after the Utah State Legislature meets.
The session laws are key to legislative research which is explained fully in the Legislative Intent and History Research Guide. Until 1972, laws were not considered to be in effect until they had first been published, a requirement dating from the 1849 Constitution of the State of Deseret.
Legislative sessions were held annually until 1870, usually in the winter, from December to March. After that date biennial sessions were held in even numbered years until statehood. Starting with the second session of the new state legislature in 1897, biannual sessions were switched to odd numbered years. The 13th state legislature held the first special session in 1919, and after that date one or more special sessions began to be held more often.
A 1968 change in the state constitution created the budget session, and the first of these was held in 1970. These were held during the even numbered years when the regular session did not meet, and only government funding issues were considered. The constitution of the state was changed again in 1985 to provide for annual sessions of the legislature, eliminating the biannual budget session. Read more about the background of the Laws of Utah.
A researcher recently requested to look at an obscure record series described simply as “Census records, 1880” (Series 5269). After retrieving the records, Archives staff became curious and set about trying to figure out what the records really were. The records include five booklets that were clearly standard forms (form 7-392) printed for the 1880 Federal Census and have notes indicating that they had been filed with the Weber County Clerk. They are titled “List of Persons” and each booklet lists the names, color, sex, and age of all the inhabitants of a given census enumeration district in Weber County, including Ogden 2nd and 3rd (municipal) Wards, Huntsville, Mound Fort, Lynne, Marriott, Riverdale, and Uintah. Archives staff searched available published sources for some reference to these forms, but couldn’t find any information. So what was their purpose, why were they filed with the county clerk, and why did only five booklets survive?
Archives staff next contacted the National Archives to see what information they might have. Initially National Archives staff members were both puzzled and excited. They had never seen an example of this kind of record before, but soon they responded with an answer. Apparently, for earlier censuses enumerators were required to submit a full second copy of their population schedules in order to receive payment for their work. By 1880 the process was simplified somewhat. According to The History and Growth of the United States Census (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1900):
the enumerator was directed to forward the original schedules, duly certified, to the supervisor of his district, but before doing this, he was required, under the terms of section 6 of the act of April 20, 1880, to make and file in the office of the clerk of the county court or in the office of the court or board administering the affairs of the county to which his district belongs, a list of the names, with age, sex, and color, of all persons enumerated by him, which he shall certify to be true, and for which he shall be paid at the rate of 10 cents for each 100 names.
These lists apparently served as a type of invoice for services and made it possible for the census enumerators to get paid for their work. Because the records were probably not of much use to the county clerk once payment had been made, most of them would have been discarded. Somehow these five booklets from Weber County survived as rare evidence of how the census was conducted in 1880.
As part of the Utah State Collections Consortium, the Utah State Archives has upgraded to the newest version of the Symphony integrated library system from SirsiDynix. An online catalog is just one of the ways to search for information on the permanent, historic holdings of the Utah State Archives. As we learn more about the new system, we will work to make sure it is easy to use and works well for archival collections.
The records discussed as part of the Genealogy Program, however, end in 1956. If you were naturalized in the time since, you may be able to request a Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document from BCIS. Submit Form N-565 which is available online at www.uscis.gov/n-565.