Category: Services

Archives & You

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“Archivists are like mechanics, no one wants to give them money or the time of day until something breaks when they become gods amongst men.” (Source)

Audographs are back!

Digital audio workstation
Digital audio workstation

After being away for repairs, several Audograph players are back and now available for listening to Senate and House Floor debate recordings from 1957 to 1989. Gray Audograph was a machine generally used for dictation from about the mid-20th century. The Utah State Legislature recorded floor debates using Audographs until they switched to cassette tapes (now they are digital and streamed online).

Using an LSTA grant, we were able to purchase equipment and software to record these obsolete disks into a digital format. The disks themselves have held up fairly well–it is the original machines that have had difficulties, and led to using several to completely rebuild the four working ones we now how. Since they have to be recorded in real time, its going to take awhile! However, anyone needing a particular date and session can arrange through the Research Center to either listen there or obtain a copy on CD. We will need some notice to retrieve and record the target disk, but the result will be much better than making researchers deal with this long-ago technology on their own.

Holiday Closure

The Research Center will be closed Monday, January 19, 2009 for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

We remain open as usual until 6 p.m. today, Thursday. Remember that we are closed every Friday and Saturday as part of our normal hours.

Open once again Tuesday, January 20, 2009 at 7 a.m.

Holiday Closures

Christmas Boxes from Life Magazine
Christmas Boxes from Life Magazine

The Research Center will be closed Thursday, December 25, 2008 for Christmas and Thursday, January 1, 2009 for New Year’s Day.

We remain open as usual until 6 p.m. on both Wednesday, December 24, 2008 and Wednesday, December 31, 2008.

However, remember that we are closed every Friday and Saturday as part of our normal hours.

Utah State Archives posts bills files from the Utah House of Representatives

For Immediate Release

Representing almost 100 years of lawmaking work by the Utah State House of Representatives, the early working bills files that are a key part of the legislation process have been posted online by the Utah State Archives and Records Service.

The House of Representatives’ Working bills files, 1896-1989, are the newest addition to the Utah State Archives’ digital collections. Available at, the collection includes nearly 150,000 images covering 63 biennial, annual, and special sessions since statehood. In conjunction with bills files since 1990 that have been put online by the Legislature, researchers and others interested in tracing a bill’s history can now access a complete record online from anywhere at anytime.

Bills, in the broad sense, refer to bills, resolutions, memorials, etc. In the narrow sense, bills consist of those documents which a member of the Legislature desires to have made into a Utah law. A bill normally consists of at least its designated number, a title, an enacting clause, and the main text. Sponsor name(s) appear on the face of the bill. House bills are introduced on the floor of the House and go through three readings before passage. In the process they are referred to one or more committees. The committee reports back with the recommendation that the bill be passed, amended, or rejected. A bill may also be amended on the floor at certain stages. If the bill passes the House after a third reading, it goes to the Senate where it goes through a similar procedure before returning to the House for acceptance of any amendments and is sent to the governor. All these actions, with the dates taken, are logged on the back of the bill.

The Archives first prepared the original paper records for microfilming, and then began scanning the microfilm as soon as it was inspected. The first images went online January 4, 2008, and the remainder followed throughout the year. After scanning, images were organized to the folder level by Archives staff.

“Uniquely this time, we experimented with completing multiple parts of the process one after another for the most efficiency and fastest turnaround,” said Gina Strack, digital coordinator for the Utah State Archives. It is hoped to continue using such a process for future projects, such as the Senate Working bills, which are still being microfilmed.

It may be interesting to note that in comparable times of economic difficulties, the Legislature passed a concurrent “memorial” petitioning the United State Government to initiate money and credit stabilization after previous efforts had “failed or proved inadequate” (H.C.M. 1, 1933). In 1927, county commissioners were directed to erect and maintain memorials to the memory of veterans of wars of the United States (H.B. 52). In a final note of relevance, the Archives and Records Service itself was created by H.B. 314 in 1969, “providing for the centralized management of [the State’s] records” and creating the State Records Committee. Many more examples can be found of how the House of Representatives and the Legislature at large have affected the history of Utah.

Historic southern Utah court records accessible to researchers

For Immediate Release

Historic records from the modern-day Fifth District Court and the territorial Second District Court are now accessible to local researchers on microfilm at the State Archives and  libraries at Southern Utah University in Cedar City and Dixie College in St. George.

Grant funds from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) allowed the Utah State Archives to archivally process (arrange and describe), microfilm, and create finding aids for the historical records of Utah’s Fifth District Court (Washington, Iron, and Beaver Counties) from statehood in 1896 to 1955 and for the Territorial Second District Court which was seated in Beaver County from 1870 to 1896. The year-long Judicial Records Preservation and Access grant project was completed in June 2008. Libraries at SUU and Dixie, which serve as regional repositories in the state archives system, have received microfilm copies for the convenience of local users.

Court records frequently are requested by researchers. Records involved in this project include probate, civil, and criminal case files, as well as court registers of actions, minutes, and judgment books. The records include information about the administration of estates, divorces, and other civil actions as well as criminal cases brought before the court. Criminal records for the Territorial Second District seated in Beaver include the controversial trail of John D. Lee (1875-1876) for his involvement in the infamous Mountain Meadows Massacre. Finding aids for the Fifth District Court can be found at

These Southwestern Utah court records inform us of the lifestyles and challenges of the people in this area. How did the miners, farmer, and ranchers navigate the transition from the settlement ear to a more commercial economy? The records document disputes over water rights and mining claims.

The beginning of the project included an inventory of all eight district court’s historical records, which were dispersed through different agencies and locations throughout the state. The inventory is a comprehensive accounting of the state’s historical records. It may be found at

New Website is Live

The newly designed website for all services of the Utah State Archives (including research) is now live at!

New Office Hours

On June 26, 2008, Governor Huntsman announced the “Working 4 Utah” initiative. As part of the initiative the Department of Administrative Services will be going to the four-day work week beginning August 4, 2008. Our offices will be open for business from 7 AM to 6 PM, Monday through Thursday. Our office will be closed on Friday. The Research Center will also be closed on Saturdays.