Archives Month: Matt Basso on Men At Work

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Friday, October 26 at Noon

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As part of Roosevelt’s New Deal program of the 1930s, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) provided relief jobs to millions of Americans. One facet of the WPA was the hiring of men and women to document the history and folklore of America so as to capture the “soul” of the nation. While researching at the Montana Historical Society Research Center more than a decade ago, historian Matthew Basso stumbled upon copies of six stories that had been submitted for inclusion in a volume titled Men at Work. They arrived too late to be considered. Federal Writers’ Project (FWP) staff had already chosen thirty-four stories from submissions across the country and the volume was nearing publication. In the end, however, that publication was waylaid by the eruption of World War II and the manuscript was forgotten. Now, Basso is bringing these rediscovered stories to their intended audience—the American people.

Works of fiction that have a creative nonfiction feel, these narratives stem from direct observation of or participation in the work described and offer portraits of Americans from diverse ethnic backgrounds who labored in jobs as varied as logging, mining, fruit packing, and rodeo riding. The writers, directed by editor Harold Rosenberg, also represent a variety of backgrounds and experience. Some, like Jack Conroy, Jim Thompson, and Chester Himes, became strong voices in the literary world. The vivid accounts in “Men at Work: Rediscovering Depression-era Stories from the Federal Writers’ Project” illuminate the meaning of work during a time when jobs were scarce and manual labor highly valued. With our country once again in financial crisis and workers facing an anemic job market, today’s readers will find these stories especially poignant.

Matthew Basso is an assistant professor of history and gender studies, and director of the American West Center at the University of Utah. He is a co-editor of Across the Great Divide: Cultures of Manhood in the American West.


Archives Month: MX Moment for Utah

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October 19
Noon

Did you know that in the late 1970’s the Great Basin region of Nevada and Utah nearly became home to the largest human construction project on Earth? The proposed MX missile system would have not only have militarized a huge section of the American West, but fundamentally altered the environment and various ways of life that have emerged in the region. Join us for a presentation that will explore records found in the Utah State Archives that help illuminate Utah’s “MX moment” and give voice to the various people and places that would have been impacted by its creation.

James Kichas is a processing and reference archivist for the Utah State Archives. Jim spent his first seven months with the archives processing the records of former Utah governors Herbert Maw and Scott Matheson (where he first learned the details of MX). Over the last nine years Jim has processed a wide variety of records in the Utah State Archives collection, helped administer an NHPRC grant focused on bringing physical and intellectual control over Utah’s historic court records, and provided reference assistance to the public in the Utah History Research Center. In the fall of 2010 Jim began work on a master’s degree in Environmental Humanities at the University of Utah. His masters’ project work is focused on a set of records held by the State Archives related to the MX Missile System, and is scheduled for completion in fall 2012.


Archives Month: Pioneer Foodways

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Plain But Wholesome by Brock Cheney (Click image to purchase)

October 15
Noon

“Plain But Wholesome: Foodways of the Mormon Pioneers” presents a groundbreaking foray into Mormon history. Brock Cheney explores the foodways of Mormon pioneers from their trek west through the arrival of the railroad and reveals new perspectives on the fascinating Mormon settlement era. Relying on original diaries, newspaper accounts, and recipe books from the 1850’s, Cheney draws a vivid portrait of what Mormon pioneers ate and drank. Although other authors have sketched the subject before, this portrait is the first effort that might be described as scholarly, though the lively prose will interest a broad general audience.

Presented here are the first explicit descriptions of the menus, food processes, and recipes of the Mormon pioneers. While many have supposed that earlier pioneer foodways continued to be handed down through Mormon families, Cheney has confirmed traditions going back generations and covering more than a century. The book also exposes myths and cliches about pioneer piety and hardships, as Cheney examines such pioneer extravagances as fresh “oysters on the half shell” and pioneer trends of alcohol consumption.

A perfect gift for the history buff or Dutch oven chef, “Plain But Wholesome” will also prove its place among scholars and historians. With its rollicking blend of historical source material and modern interpretation, this book will entertain and educate novice and expert alike.

Brock Cheney teaches writing and literature in Utah’s public schools and has worked at several living history museums in Utah and Colorado. he lives in Willard, Utah, where he keeps a vegetable garden and bakes bread in his wood-fired brick oven.


Archives Month: Avenues of Salt Lake City

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Friday, October 12, 2012
12 noon

Salt Lake City’s oldest residential historic district is a neighborhood known as the Avenues. During the late nineteenth century this area was home to many of the most influential citizens of Salt Lake City. Built from 1860 until 1930, it contains a mix of middle and upper middle class homes of varying architectural styles. This architectural diversity makes the Avenues unique among Utah’s historic districts. For the past thirty years, as citizens have rediscovered the value of living in historic properties near downtown and the University of Utah, preservation efforts have soared in the area.

In 1980, the Avenues was established as a historic district and the Utah Historical Society published The Avenues of Salt Lake City. That book’s authors, Karl T. Haglund and Philip F. Notarianni, gleaned much about the area’s history by using information found on the historic district applications. This newly revised edition of The Avenues of Salt Lake City by Cevan J. LeSieur updates the original with a greatly expanded section on the historic homes in the neighborhood, including more than 600 new photos, and additional material covering the history of the Avenues since 1980.

The book is designed so that readers can take it along as a guide when exploring the neighborhoods. All the pictures of Avenues homes are accompanied with architectural information and brief histories of the properties. This volume makes a valuable resource for those interested in the history of the Avenues and its diverse architecture, and for anyone interested in Utah history, Utah architecture, and historic preservation.

Cevan Lesieur is a native of Salt Lake City and a resident of the Avenues neighborhood where he and his wife Heather have restored two homes.


Holiday Closure: Columbus Day

The Research Center will be closed Monday, October 8,  2012 in observance of Columbus Day. It will open again Tuesday, October 9, 2012 at 9:00 a.m.


21st Amendment Ratification Records Online

Did you know that Utah was the state that fulfilled the constitutional requirement to ratify the 21st amendment to end prohibition? This amendment is also the only one thus far ratified by state conventions rather than state legislatures [Wikipedia]. The records of the Convention to Ratify the 21st Amendment for Utah are now online.

The 72nd Congress of the United States proposed the 21st amendment to the U.S. Constitution, repealing the 18th amendment and once again legalizing the manufacture and use of liquor. On October 10, 1933, Governor Henry H. Blood called for the election of delegates to a constitutional convention for the purpose of ratifying or rejecting the 21st amendment. The election was held on November 7, and the elected delegates met December 5. The amendment became effective with the ratification of 36 states; Utah was the 36th state to ratify. These records document the activities of the convention.

Convention to Ratify the 21st Amendment (1933)


Archives Month: Year of the Newspaper

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Monday, October 1, 2012
12 noon

With more than 1,300,000 pages of Utah newspapers now scanned it is feared the convenience of digital access will doom the surviving paper copies to the trash where they will be lost to future generations of researchers. Marriott Library, Lee Library, Utah State Archives, and Utah Press Association are working together to help prevent this irreparable loss. Randy will speak on the importance of this project as well as methods for individuals and institutions to participate.

Randy Silverman has worked in the field of book conservation since 1978. He has served as the Preservation Librarian at the University of Utah’s Marriott Library since 1993 and is a member of the University’s Emergency Operations Center. He has and holds a masters degree in Library Science and teaches as adjunct faculty for Emporia State University and the University of Arizona. As a member of the Western States Preservation Assistance Service he teaches Disaster Preparedness workshops in Utah, Wyoming, and Montana and in 2007 was awarded the Utah Humanities Council’s “Human Ties Award.”

This event will be held at noon in the State Archives Courtyard Meeting Room, 346 South Rio Grande, Salt Lake City, UT 84101-1106

Also, find out more about the Utah Book Festival that is about to commence.


Research Center Closure

In order for staff to attend the 60th Annual Utah State History Conference, the Research Center will be closed Friday, September 21, 2012. It will open again Monday, September 24 at the usual 9 a.m.

Please feel free to join us at the conference–a free event!


Governor Huntsman Press Releases Online

This series contains press releases and media advisories from the office of Governor Jon Huntsman given to media sources to publicize the governor’s activities and opinions. The records contain information on the appointment of judges and state officials, announcements of new businesses in Utah, legislative announcements and official decrees recognizing and celebrating significant individuals and events.

The documents online are searchable by keyword.


Naturalizations from Salt Lake County Online

Naturalization records documenting the final step to citizenship from Salt Lake City are now online. The records cover from 1907 to 1925, individuals in the records may have immigrated years before as detailed in the Naturalization and Citizenship Research Guide. Records may be found searching for names of heads of households (married women were automatically naturalized along with their husbands until 1922) and family members.

The images were created from a partnership with FamilySearch. Many other naturalization records were digitized at the same time, and we’re always looking for help indexing them. Find out more about volunteering.


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