District Court Records Guide Updated

The processing and research staff of the Utah State Archives is excited to unveil the latest edition of the Utah State District Court Records Guide.  Work associated with this resource began in 2005 with a systematic inventory of historic records in all of the 29 state district courts.  The information compiled during this inventory was reconciled against all known holdings of the State Archives, allowing research staff to better assist patrons with historic court record research.  This effort has also provided a useful model for formulating processing projects.  Between July 2007 and June 2008, all courts records from the Fifth District Court (Beaver, Iron and Washington County) and the Territorial Second District Court were processed with funding assistance from a NHPRC grant.  Currently, staff is working to improve access to records from two of the largest courts in the state including the Second District Court in Weber County (Ogden) and the Fourth District Court in Utah County (Provo).

In addition to the links to records descriptions found in this guide, the following guides and histories may be of use:

Did you know? The Fifth District Court in Beaver County’s Indexes are available online covering 1896-1998.

House Working bills are Finished

In celebration of a project complete

We even had the cupcakes to prove it–one for each session digitized and put online.


Naturally, it would be great to move onto the Senate Working bills. First, microfilming will need to completed, both for preservation and it is from the microfilm that we scan the digital images. Secondly, with the overall economic climate, resources are a little tighter and may affect upcoming projects.

Still, it is amazing to think of the numbers: 63 legislative sessions between 1896 and 1989 with 4,598 folders and 146,817 images now online. It has been about 11 months since the first image went online on January 4, 2008 (hey that’s Statehood day!), with scanning activities going back to late 2007. Now that the simple folders are available, we are looking at ways to add searching based on criteria such as individual bill numbers and subjects to be added. In the meantime, browsing is easiest by year.

Proper press releases will also follow along shortly.

An Extra Statute Found

We are literally days away from finishing the enormous House Working Bills record series project, putting online all bill files discussed by the Utah House of Representatives from 1896 to 1989 (1990 to the present is on the Legislature’s own site). And sometimes you get a little more than expected.

Yesterday, while finishing up the last few, we discovered that we have essentially digitized the entire 1933 Revised Statutes of Utah, since it started out as House Bill 2 in the 1933 session. With little changes, it was later published in the form anyone doing historical research in compiled laws may be familiar with (a nice big volume with black cover). To add some value to this resource, I am working on putting up an extra version of the bill file with full OCR text search to make it useful and searchable. This will hopefully go along well with the other historical statutues digitized by the University of Utah’s Marriott Library.

See also: Utah State Law Library Research Guide: Utah Statutory Codes, Utah Code Annotated Series Inventory

Naturalization Records since 1906

After checking some external links on the Naturalization Records Guide, discovered that the previously announced U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Genealogy Program is now active. The relevant links on the guide have been updated. Meanwhile, if you are looking for citizenship records from 1906 to 1956, their program offers index searches and records requests for a fee that should be more timely than a generic Freedom of Information Act request.

Divorce Records guide updated

The Divorce Records research guide has been updated to reflect a much wider availability of civil court records here at the State Archives from districts throughout the state, besides Salt Lake County. This new website has provided a good opportunity to review and update content. Let us know what you think!

Archives Month programs planned

The Utah State Archives will observe Utah Archives Month throughout October with weekly events each Wednesday. The statewide theme for 2008 is “Documenting Utah: Political History, Public Policy, and Archives.”

Three classes geared to family historians will be offered on alternating weeks.

  • Danielle L. Batson, MLS, AG (LDS Family History Library), will present a class on using United States naturalization records, on October 1, at noon.
  • Susan Whetstone, photograph curator at the Utah Historical Society, will provide instruction on preserving photographs on October 15, at 5 p.m.
  • “Wake the Dead,” a popular class on family history sources and research in Utah, will be presented on October 29, at 5 p.m. A tour of the research center is included.

The Archives will host the annual Utah fall caucus of the Conference of Inter-Mountain Archivists on October 8. The keynote address for day-long gathering will be “Massacre at Mountain Meadows: New Sources and Understandings,” presented by Ronald W. Walker, Richard E. Turley, Jr., and Glen M. Leonard. Also on the agenda are “‘Order in the Court!’: Processing Utah’s Historic Fifth District,” presented by Jim Kichas, Utah State Archives; and “Archival Research and the Restoration of the Utah State Capitol,” by Charles Shepherd, historical architect, Capitol Restoration Group. A tour of the restored capitol is scheduled. An exhibit of capitol artifacts is on display in the lobby of the Archives building.

Training for the Regional Repositories program under the direction of the Utah State Historical Records Advisory Board is set on October 22. Scheduled instruction will include “Basics of Archives,” presented by Rosemary Cundiff and Janell Tuttle, Utah State Archives, and “How to Evaluate and Build a Digital Collection,” presented by Jamie J. Weeks, Assistant to the University Librarian, Weber State University Stewart Library.

Because of limited seating, advance registration is required for the CIMA caucus on October 8 and for the regional repository training on October 22. CIMA members may RSVP by contacting Brandon Metcalf (Utah State Archives) at bmetcalf@utah.gov or 801-531-3842. To RSVP for the regional repository training, contact Janell Tuttle (Utah State Archives) at jtuttle@utah.gov or 801-531-3864.

All events will be held in the Courtyard Meeting Room in the State Archives Building, 346 S. Rio Grande Street (455 West), Salt Lake City.

Information about these and other events is listed in the calendar on the Utah Archives Month website, utaharchivesmonth.org.

Almost done: House Working bills

The online digital collection of the House of Representatives’ Working bill files are nearing the completion stage with almost 80% of the sessions from 1896 to 1989 represented (1990 to the present of course are available from the Legislature’s site). Specifically, this includes general and special sessions from 1896-1917 and from 1941-1989. The remaining years are being scanned and should be online very shortly. One thing we have learned is that the more recent files you get, the more volume there is! For instance, those remaining years of 1919-1939 fill up only 12 microfilm reels, whereas the 1980s alone were 53 reels. Clearly, having to typeset or even handwrite documents greatly reduces the amount of papers necessary for legislation, that or the modern legislature as in many other areas is that much more complex.

Utah Archives Month

The Utah Archives Month website is now updated at www.utaharchivesmonth.org. Events from Utah repositories for October 2008 are not completely posted yet, but should be soon.

Working out the kinks and finding aids

Moving and/or creating a new website is never easy. Hopefully online visitors are not getting too lost (if at all) on the new Archives & Records Service site. A lot of the content is full-circle in that it has not really changed since implementing a content management system in 2005 (which unfortunately had a bad habit of using long confusing URLs). Even the research section–found at historyresearch.utah.gov for the most part over the last 3 1/2 years–is returning largely intact, though instead of archives.utah.gov/referenc/ it is archives.utah.gov/research/.

The remaining missing element for researching Archives materials online are the finding aids. With an 18-month-long statewide grant-funded project wrapping up to upgrade and improve all our inventory finding aids, we are waiting to unveil them all at once. Hopefully by the end of the month! In the meantime, many apologies for any potentially confusing misdirections. We have implemented a temporary redirect to take any links beginning with archives.utah.gov/research/inventories to historyresearch.utah.gov/inventories. This, however, will not help links to new inventories which, when we finish, could number close to 800 (added to 900 existing). These are from offline “temporary lists” of often small record series with simple descriptions and maybe a basic box list. Even if we never get these “finished,” at least this much information will soon be online.

Discovered today: someone is “tweating” us on Twitter from Utah.gov!

New Website is Live

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