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.


Holiday Closure: Labor Day

The Research Center for the Utah State Archives and Utah State History will be closed Monday, September 3, 2012 for Labor Day.

It will open again Tuesday, September 4, 2012 at 9 a.m. Meanwhile, there are many research materials available online anytime in digital archivesname indexes, guides, and inventories.


Browse Birth Certificates Online: 1911

Birth Certificate, 1906

Birth certificate images for 1911 are now online at archives.utah.gov/digital/81443.htm. Although they are not indexed by name yet, if one knows the birth date and county it should not be difficult to locate the correct folder and browse through a few images for the time being. Saving and printing of images is available.

Would you like to help index birth certificates? Or other records? Join our team of volunteers for a rewarding experience handling, describing, or making accessible original records from throughout Utah’s history. Read more about our Volunteer Program.


Utah Archives Month 2012

The calendar for Utah Archives Month is now being updated for October 2012 events at utaharchivesmonth.org. The events hosted by the Utah State Archives and Utah State History have been posted (including on Facebook):

  • 10/1/2012 – Randy Silverman: Year of the Newspaper
  • 10/12/2012 – Cevan LeSieur: “The Avenues of Salt Lake City”
  • 10/15/2012 – Brock Cheney: “Plain But Wholesome: Foodways of the Mormon Pioneers”
  • 10/19/2012 – Jim Kichas: “Utah’s MX Moment”
  • 10/24/2012 – Matt Basso: “Men At Work”

All events are free and open to the public.

Utah Archives Month is on Facebook and Twitter.


Territorial Third District Case File Index Online

The territorial CASE INDEX for the Third District Court is now online. It records the names of plaintiffs and defendants involved in court actions and provides assigned case numbers, facilitating clerical management of and access to the case files. Civil cases span the entire period (1871-1896). Criminal cases were indexed in this series from 1871 to 1882, when a separate filing arrangement for criminal case files was implemented.

The index is useful for finding case files from the Third District up until 1896, which traditionally has included Salt Lake County.

Third District


Enabling Act for State of Utah Now Online

As part of the records of the 1895 Constitutional Convention, a high-resolution digital copy of the Federal Enabling Act that led to Utah becoming a state is now online in the Utah Digital Archives.

In July 1894, the U.S. Congress enacted a law to enable the territory of Utah to be admitted into the Union as a state. The act spelled out the calling of a convention composed of 107 delegates to meet beginning in March 1895 to draw up a state constitution. These records are the papers of that convention. They include a copy of the federal enabling act; roll call; transcripts, published and unpublished, of the proceedings; files of proposals, petitions, and other recommendations for inclusion in the state constitution; and a limited number of committee reports, minutes and notes.

Statehood Constitutional Convention (1895)

See also Road to Statehood Exhibit – Enabling Act and History of the Constitutional Convention (1895)


Holiday Closure: Pioneer Day

The Research Center for the Utah State Archives and Utah State History will be closed for Pioneer Day, Tuesday, July 24, 2012. It will open again on Wednesday, July 25 at 9 a.m.

Pioneer Day commemorates the arrival of the Mormon Pioneers in the Salt Lake valley July 24, 1847.


Evidence From A Transatlantic Friendship

A Thank-You Gift from France

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.

Union Station in Ogden.

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 restored Merci Train boxcar.

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.

More Information

For more information about the Merci Train and the gifts that have survived, you can visit the exhibit at the Utah State Railroad Museum, peruse the inventory of items held by the Utah State Archives at http://archives.utah.gov/research/inventories/20732.html , and read an article about Utah’s Merci Train boxcar in Beehive History 23 at http://utah.ptfs.com/awweb/main.jsp?flag=browse&smd=1&awdid=1 .


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