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2016 Utah State History Conference

Rural Utah, Western Issues

September 29 – October 1, 2016

Although Utah and the American West are highly urbanized—principally a product of arid geography—some of their defining characteristics are open spaces and sparse populations. Outside of its urban corridors, the West is a region of small towns and scattered homes amid a big landscape. Its history is a mosaic of agriculture, ranching, manufacturing, community life, and culture. Unfortunately, it is also sometimes ignored in the wider histories.

One of the biggest and most recognizable of western landscapes is Utah’s—the expansive range of the Great Basin, the peaks of the Central Rockies, and the canyons of the Colorado Plateau. Approximately 97 percent of Utah’s land area is considered rural. But this is not an unpeopled and unstoried landscape. About one in ten Utahns lives in towns of 2,500 people or less.

Rural Utahns have grappled with economic development, the dynamics of in-migration, rural gentrification, and the retention of rural culture and identity. Land and resource issues—federal ownership of vast tracts of locally used land, scarcity of water, and energy development among them—are also common, as they are in the histories of other western states. This conference seeks to examine the historical dimensions of these issues, highlighting new, revised, or heretofore unknown histories of rural and western life for a twenty-first century public.





Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016
8:00 am – 6:00 pm
Rio Grande Depot, 300 S. Rio Grande Street, Salt Lake City

Friday, Sept. 30, 2016
8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Plenary, lunchtime keynote and awards presentation, history and panel sessions
Keynote by Dr. Patty Limerick, Faculty Director and Chair of the Board of the Center of the American West at the University of Colorado, where she is also a Professor of History.
Utah Cultural Celebration Center, 1355 West 3100 South, West Valley

Saturday, October 1, 2016
9:00 am – 6:30 pm
Tour to Bear River Massacre Site (TOUR IS FULL)
Tour sponsored by the Fort Douglas Military Museum
** Please note that a separate paid registration fee of $65.00 is required for this conference tour.  Registration is available at 801-581-1251 or

Thank you to our conference sponsors:

American Institute of Architects (Utah chapter), American Planning Association (Utah chapter), American West Center (U of U), Ames Construction, Charles Redd Center for Western Studies (BYU), Chevron, Fort Douglas Military Museum, Governor’s Office of Economic Development, J. Willard Marriott Library (U of U), LDS Church History Department, National Park Service, Resonance Printing Solutions, U of U History Department, USU History Department, Utah Cultural Celebration Center, Utah Humanities, Utah Westerners.

 Nominations for USHS Best Utah History Book and Article Awards

Resource of the Month

This new series will focus on one database or resource per month in Utah’s Online Library to provide a focused experience for libraries and their patrons. We will host a free webinar for libraries and library workers on the chosen resource so that you will be prepared to help your patrons. Additionally, we will market our Resource of the Month on social media and our website. Register to attend the webinar or check back after the training date to view the archived webinar.

October 13, 2016 – Register
October Resource of the Month – EBSCO Explora
October 27, 2016 – Register
November Resource of the Month – OverDrive
November 30, 2016 – Register
December Resource of the Month – EBSCO TOPICsearch



Utah Designers Showcased at the Rio Gallery – 13 Sept 2016

SALT LAKE CITY – DesignArts ’16, an exhibition of Utah design, is now open at the Rio Gallery in Salt Lake City and will continue through Oct. 21, 2016.  The Rio Gallery is open Mon. – Fri. from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is located at 300 S. Rio Grande in Salt Lake City. A reception and celebration coinciding with Salt Lake Design Week and Salt Lake Gallery Stroll will be hosted in the gallery on Oct. 21 from 6-9 p.m.

Juror Jim Childress selected 39 designs by 18 Utah designers ranging from lighting design to salt and pepper shakers. The juror’s award winner in the professional category is Jessica Greenberg for her lighting design work with SB Dance and Off-Broadway Theater. There are two juror’s award winners in the student category: DesignBuildBLUFF for their “Cedar Hall” project in architecture and Jun Li’s architectural design concepts for five projects.

The juror, Jim Childress, is a partner at Centerbrook Architects and Planners. Childress has worked over the past 30 years on numerous projects at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, the world-renowned center for molecular biology research. He was the architect for notable projects in the West, including the Headquarters for the National Outdoor Leadership School in Lander, Wyo., and three projects at the University of Colorado: the LEED Gold Wolf Law School and the LEED Platinum Center for Community, and the Health Sciences Library on the Anschutz Medical Campus. A graduate of Rhode Island School of Design, Childress’s work has been recognized with 60 design awards including the American Institute of Architects 1998 Architecture Firm Award. He was invested into the College of Fellows of the AIA in 2001 and served as the Chair of its Committee on Design.

The Design Arts Program of the Utah Division of Arts & Museums sponsors DesignArts Utah annually with exhibitionsfeaturing designs, prototypes, and produced samples by designers in Utah’s various design fields. Further information is available online at  If you have questions about the DesignArts Utah program or the exhibition please contact Jim Glenn at and 801.245.7271.

Utah’s Indigenous Day 2016

About Indigenous Day:

The Utah Division of Indian Affairs celebrates, honors and recognizes the countless contributions of Utah’s American Indian community at its annual Indigenous Day celebration. As part of National Native American Indian Heritage Month, UDIA and its network of partners work together to promote events celebrating Native culture throughout the state.

This year, we will celebrate our Indigenous Day event, “Spiritual Wings: Embracing Native Culture”, on November 4, 2016, at Thanksgiving Point’s Red Barn in Lehi, Utah.

Indigenous Day Poetry Contest:

The Utah Division of Indian Affairs is excited to sponsor a state-wide poetry writing contest open to all Utah American Indian students (grades 3-12) in honor of Utah’s Annual Indigenous Day celebration. This poetry contest is an excellent opportunity for Native students to express themselves and recognize the many contributions of Utah’s American Indian communities.  The goal of the contest is to encourage Native students to identify the value of culture and how culture can help them achieve their goals.

This contest is open to Utah American Indian students in school districts, charter, public and private or home schools, grades 3-12. Entries must be submitted by October 21, 2016 (submit by email or online at

Please contact Meredith Lam ( if you have additional questions regarding the poetry contest.

Contest parameters

Department of Heritage and Arts Executive Director Steps Down

julie-fisherAfter five years as the executive director of the Utah Department of Heritage and Arts, Julie Fisher will step down at the end of August to accept a management position at a global consulting firm. Prior to her service with Heritage and Arts, Fisher served four terms in the Utah House of Representatives

Since being appointed by Governor Gary R. Herbert in 2011, Fisher has led a department that includes the Division of Arts & Museums, Division of State History, Office of Multicultural Affairs, Division of Indian Affairs, UServeUtah, and the Utah State Library. Prior to her appointment, Fisher served four terms in the Utah House of Representatives.

“Heritage and Arts represents the heart and soul of Utah,” Fisher said. “It has been an honor for me to work with so many talented and dedicated people who come to work each day focused on making Utah a better place to live.”

During her tenure as executive director, Fisher led the successful transition from the former Department of Community and Culture to the department’s current organizational structure. She also oversaw the digitization and cataloging of state historical records and more than 30,000 artifacts. The entire state art collection is now available for viewing online. Fisher also spearheaded efforts to significantly expand Gov. Herbert’s annual Native American Summit.

“Julie leaves a legacy of stewardship of Utah’s unique cultural identity and resources,” Gov. Herbert said. “She has fostered a commitment to accountability and efficiency in the management of taxpayer dollars and has laid a foundation which will support the department into the future.”

Brian Somers, who was appointed deputy director of the department in February 2013, will serve as the interim executive director while a search for a new director is conducted. Before joining Heritage & Arts, Somers served as the associate director of communications for Governor Gary R. Herbert. Prior to his service in the Governor’s Office, Somers provided contract communications, marketing, and strategy consulting services to the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and other public and private sector clients.

“Julie has brought together a diverse group of divisions in a way that encourages collaboration in improving the lives of Utahns,” Somers said. “On behalf of all employees in the Department of Heritage and Arts, we thank her for her long public service as our executive director and in the Legislature and wish her well in her future endeavors in the private sector.”

Chase Home Museum

The Chase Home Museum of Utah Folk Arts is the only museum in the country dedicated to displaying a state-owned collection of contemporary folk art. It features objects made by living Utah artists from the state’s American Indian, rural, occupational and ethnic communities offering a snapshot of Utah’s contemporary culture and heritage. The Chase Home, built more than 150 years ago in a traditional hall-and-parlor style from adobe bricks, is a fine example of 19th century folk art.

The three permanent galleries are in the process of getting new exhibitions installed. The museum will be closed from October 18, 2016 through January 19, 2016.

Workshop Space and Temporary Exhibitions

A workshop space on the first floor features both folk arts and museum programming at the Chase Home. We offer classes, hands-on workshops, artist visits, and many more events. Follow our Facebook page for the latest announcements.

The workshop space also serves as a gallery for temporary exhibitions of Utah folk and traditional arts or new work featuring emerging folk art genres or innovations of tradition. We accept proposals for 8-12 week exhibitions by Utah artists. See our Exhibition Guidelines to submit a proposal. Contact Adrienne Decker ( or Jennifer Ortiz ( to learn more.

Folk Art Collection

View the State of Utah Folk Art Collection.

Location & Hours

The Chase Home Museum will be closed
10/18/16 ~ 1/20/2017

The interior of the Chase Home is getting painted and new exhibits are being planned. The Utah folk arts collection is still our focus, and with rotating exhibitions of contemporary Utah folk artists in our temporary gallery on the main floor.

The Chase Home Museum is located in the middle of Liberty Park. To visit, enter the park from either 900 South or 1300 South at about 600 East and follow the signs to parking near the center of the park.

Labor Day-Memorial Day (Winter Hours):

Tuesday-Friday: 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Saturday-Monday: Closed

Memorial Day-Labor Day (Summer Hours):

Tuesday: 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Wednesday: 11:00 AM – 8:00 PM

Thursday-Saturday:11:00 AM – 4:00 PM 

Sunday-Monday: Closed

Chase Home Museum Map


Call 801.533.5760

Facebook IconVisit the Chase Home Museum of Utah Folk Arts on Facebook!

Summer of Service

Summer of Service is Utah’s statewide initiative to celebrate and mobilize youth 5-25 to make a meaningful difference in their local communities by volunteering June 1 to August 31.

Why serve:

  • Make a difference in someone’s life
  • Learn new skills to build your resume
  • Keep active, stay busy, avoid boredom
  • Have fun and make new friends
  • Earn a Presidential Service Award
  • Read this blog post for more details about why and how youth can serve this summer


  • Nonprofit Organizations
  • Faith-based Organizations
  • Community Events
  • Government Agencies and Schools
  • Individuals (neighbors, family, others)

Qualify for Prizes:

to access the participant login page click hereEach month, qualifying youth are entered into a drawing for prizes. Drawings are held at the end of June, July and August. Prizes include (but are not limited to):

  • VIP passes to Airborne Sports
  • Games of bowling at All Star Bowling & Entertainment
  • Two tickets to Tuacahn Ampitheatre’s Peter Pan
  • Dozen donuts from Banbury Cross
  • Unlimited fun passes at Boondocks
  • Ice cream gift certificates
  • All day passes to Cherry Hill
  • Round trip airfare in continental U.S.
  • Buffet meals at Chuck-A-Rama
  • Gift certificates to Classic Fun Center
  • Funday passes to Glenwood Caverns
  • Day at the Natural History Museum package
  • Universal Day pass to Seven Peaks
  • and more

To see how to qualify for prizes, visit our participant portal.

Earn Presidential Service Recognition:

The President’s Volunteer Service Award (PVSA) is a premier volunteer awards program.  Youth are invited to participate and be recognized by our nation’s president for being active citizens. Along with the ultimate honor of presidential recognition, recipients will receive a personalized certificate, an official pin and a congratulatory letter from the president of the United States. Youth must complete the following amount of hours June 1 to August 31 for the PVSA:

  • Kids 5-12 (50 hours)
  • Youth 13-18 (75 hours)
  • Young Adults 19-25 (100 hours)

Thank You Sponsors!

Tuachan logo GCAP-logo-2016 Logo     unnamed       Logo USAll-Star_Logo_WhiteBckrnd (1)   Rec center logo   BC    Aggieunnamed (1)      Wasatch Valley Pizza Logo   Red Butte Garden logo Airborne Trampoline Arena logo Seven Peaks Logo SALT LAKE COUNTY LOGO Cherry Hill Logo Command Deck Logo BYU Creamery logo SLC Bees Logo    USNatural History Museum   USThis is the Place Heritage Park   USColor me mine logo

Desert Star Playhouse
Christopherson Business Travel
Natural History Museum
Logan Aquatic Center
Roy Aquatic Center
Salt Lake County Ice Center

Need Help?
Call Ruqia Qasim at 801-245-7222 or for more information

Circleville Massacre Memorial

In April 1851, Mormon settlers in Circleville, a small hamlet in central Utah Territory, slit the throats of as many as 30 men, women, and children belonging to the Paiute Koosharem band. The massacre happened during the Black Hawk War because of unfounded fears by the settlers that the band posed a threat.

Despite being the worst atrocity committed against Native Americans in Utah, the massacre is not well known. Circleville residents—none original descendants of the perpetrators—do not much discuss it. The massacre is hardly mentioned in general histories of the state, and even the Paiute people know little of what happened to their ancestors.

That will begin to change, however, when the victims will be memorialized with a new memorial in Circleville. The memorial will provide a solemn place of contemplation and commemoration to honor the victims of one of Utah history’s saddest episodes.

A dedication ceremony for the new memorial is scheduled for April 22 at 11 a.m. The brief ceremony will be held at Memorial Park (Main Street and 100 East) in Circleville. Speakers include representatives of the Paiute Koosharem band, town of Circleville, LDS Church history department, and Utah Division of State History.

The memorial has become a reality because of the efforts of the Paiute Tribal Council, Utah Division of State History, town of Circleville officials, LDS Church Historical Department, Utah Westerners, and a number of independent historians who felt compelled to band together and give proper recognition to the slain.

Additional Background Information on the Circleville Massacre

The massacre occurred in an atmosphere of fear and conflict as the “Black Hawk War” led to violence among settlers and native peoples in many areas of Utah. Late in 1865, some Utes raided the town of Circleville, killing four citizens. In early 1866, ​Parowan militia officers decided to “take in all straggling Indians in the vicinity”—Paiutes included—eventually requesting several to come into Fort Sanford, where they were questioned. The militia targeted Paiute Indians due to paranoia and distrust, believing that they had allied with the Utes.

On April 21, an express sent from Fort Sanford to Circleville stated that two formerly friendly Paiutes had shot and wounded a member of the Utah militia. What the dispatch did not report was that one of the Paiutes had been injured, while the other had been shot and killed by a soldier’s long-range rifle. The military commander at Fort Sanford sent an express to Circleville and Panguitch advising that Paiutes encamped near the settlements ought to be disarmed. Later, another express rider from Fort Sanford erroneously reported that “friendly Paiutes had shot and killed a white man who belonged to the militia”—though in fact no militiamen had been killed.

Settlers and local LDS church leaders​ in Circleville met to decide what course to pursue. They decided to take the local Paiutes prisoner and sent a messenger to them to come into town and hear a letter read by the local LDS bishop. Those who complied were directed into the log church meetinghouse. When the settlers told the Indians to disarm and the Paiutes indicated reluctance, the settlers forcefully disarmed them. Men were sent to bring in the Indians who had refused to come in the first time. One Paiute who attempted to escape was shot. The prisoners, including women and children, were taken to an unused cellar to be held under guard.

LDS Church Apostle Erastus Snow received a report from Circleville and instructed that prisoners should be treated kindly and let go unless “hostile or affording aid to the enemy.” But the dispatch arrived too late—except for two prisoners who escaped and four children thought too young to bear witness, Mormon settlers massacred as many as thirty men, women, and children of the Koosharem Band, mostly by slitting their throats. Reportedly, the bodies were taken to the cellar of an unbuilt mill and buried in a mass grave.


The event is little-known in Utah and barely receives mention in general histories of the state. Only a few scholarly sources, including a 1989 Utah Historical Quarterly article, document its history. In order to raise awareness and honor the memory of the innocents, several groups have worked together on creating a monument.

The monument is the result of cooperation among the Paiute Tribe of Utah, Utah Division of State History, town of Circleville, LDS Church History Department, Utah Westerners, and many contributors. The LDS Church Historical Department made an initial contribution that paid for the design of the monument. Utah Division of State History Director Brad Westwood and Utah Westerners President Steven A. Gallenson spearheaded a fundraising campaign, and a number of history-loving individuals and organizations have pledged their financial support of the project.

At the request of the Paiute Tribe, on the granite stone will be an image of an eagle in flight (conveying the deceased to their resting places). The text will include an oral account of the massacre and an inscription written by the next of kin of those slain.

The memorial has the promise of not only bringing recognition to the massacre but also of bringing healing for Paiutes and the people of Circleville. The inscription reads: “In remembrance of the innocent who were lost in this place so long ago. None of us could ever hope to describe the feelings of emotion that these people might have felt. All we can do is honor their existence as human beings.”


Weeks, Sue Jensen. How Desolate Our Home Bereft of Thee: James Tillman Sanford Allred and the Circleville Massacre. Melbourne: Clouds of Magellan, 2014.

Winkler, Albert. “The Circleville Massacre: A Brutal Incident in Utah’s Black Hawk War,” Utah Historical Quarterly 55 (1987): 4–21.

Utah Historical Quarterly Current Issue

Volume 84, Number 3 (Summer 2016 Issue):

Published since 1928, the Utah Historical Quarterly is the state’s premier history journal and the source for reliable, engaging Utah history. Join the Historical Society for your own copy.

Each issue of the Utah Historical Quarterly is accompanied with rich web supplements that introduce readers to sources, photos, interviews, and other engaging material. These “extras” are located at

WEB EXTRAS: See here 


People make sense of the world by representation. Words, maps, pictures, and symbols, of course, do not always capture the complexity and depth of the things they represent. Because they are incomplete, and also because they may be somewhat or wildly inaccurate, representations can distort our understanding. Consider, for instance, The Birth of a Nation, featured in this issue’s “Utah in Focus.” The white majority hailed this groundbreaking film, which was also blatantly racist and historically inaccurate, as a superb history lesson.

We tend to believe the representations that support what we already believe.

Our first article focuses on a certain type of representation, a Broadway play. Polygamy, coauthored by the talented Harvey O’Higgins and produced in 1914, treated its topic in a way that used and mirrored decades of representations. The play focused on the dark side of Mormon polygamy, but at its core it dramatized a larger theme: the perceived economic, political, and personal power of church leaders. “Mormons on Broadway, 1914 Style” tells the story of the play, how it came to be, how it represented the Mormon church and its members, what the critics thought, and how it touched the nerves of contemporaries.

Several decades earlier, attitudes toward Mormons had not yet solidified so firmly. The second article, “News from Salt Lake,” unfolds the multifaceted newspaper coverage of the Salt Lake Valley in the first years of Mormon settlement. News, rumor, and speculation all filtered back to the eastern states through various reports and retellings that Americans around the country absorbed about the Brigham Young–led Mormons who had left the United States for Upper California. Perhaps strikingly, the coverage reported more on the landscape of the Great Basin than on the peculiarity of a religious people that would come to define representations of the Mormons in the decades that followed.

Journalists have their own way of representing reality; scientists try for more accurate representations through data. During the 1920s through the 1940s, George Clyde innovated and developed systems to predict water availability for farmers. Clyde would become governor of Utah in 1957, but he started his career as an irrigation engineer. Working for the Utah Agricultural Experiment Station, he established a protocol for snow surveys that could help predict runoff each year; farmers could then plan for the planting season with valuable information. Our third article tells how Clyde and others started to scientifically understand Utah’s snowpack and runoff.

That snow-survey technology served a very down-to-earth purpose, but Utahns have long had their eyes fixed on more sophisticated technology to diversify the economy. In 1970, NASA began looking for a new “spaceport” for the space shuttle program. Utah jumped into the competition to win the facility. Our fourth article details the efforts of boosters to sell northern Utah as the right place to land the shuttle.

Finally, from yet another corner of the state and at an emotional intersection between present and past, we offer the remarks made at the dedication of a memorial to the innocent Paiute victims of the Circleville Massacre of 1866. On April 22, 2016, 150 years later, Paiutes and other Utah tribal Indians, Circleville citizens, LDS and state officials, and others came together to honor the lives of those who suffered death at the hands of their Mormon neighbors when hysteria and distrust overcame humanity and reason. In the decades since 1866, the incident has been represented in different ways. But for the most part, it has been forgotten.

By writing about it, talking about it, and erecting a monument, historians and citizens today are trying to represent the past in a way that will continue to unearth the complexity and depth of this tragic event. That is what good history does.


Mormons on Broadway, 1914 Style: Harvey O’Higgins’s “Polygamy”
By Kenneth L. Cannon II

News from Salt Lake, 1847-1849
By Andrew H. Hedges

George Dewey Clyde and the Harvest of Snow
By Robert E. Parson

Utah’s Spaceport: A Failed Dream
By Eric G. Swedin

Remembering the Circleville Massacre


Charles S. Peterson and Brian Q. Cannon, The Awkward State of Utah: Coming of Age in the Nation, 1896-1945. Reviewed by Nancy J. Taniguchi

Jason E. Pierce, Making the White Man’s West: Whiteness and the Creation of the American West. Reviewed by Christopher Herbert

Frederick H. Swanson, Where Roads Will Never Reach: Wilderness and Its Visionaries in the Northern Rockies. Reviewed by Jon England

Christina Robertson and Jennifer Westerman, eds., Working on Earth: Class and Environmental Justice. Reviewed by Cody Ferguson

Michael L. Tate, ed., with Will Bagley and Richard L. Rieck, The Great Medicine Road: Narratives of the Oregon, California, and Mormon Trail. Part 2: 1849. Reviewed by Lee Kreutzer


Reid L. Neilson and Matthew L. Grow, eds., From the Outside Looking In: Essays on Mormon History, Theology, and Culture

Rod Miller, The Lost Frontier: Momentous Moments in the Old West You May Have Missed


NHPA 50 Year Anniversary

Join the nationwide celebration for the 50th Anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) in 2016. This Act transformed the face of communities throughout the United States and Utah by establishing a framework and incentives to preserve historic buildings, landscapes, and archaeological sites.  Coordinated through, the nationwide celebration is designed to inform and engage all ages and backgrounds in this significant law’s effects on local communities and history. Since 1966, the NHPA has shaped preservation efforts on America’s history and culture while generating positive social and economic impacts. In 2015, the Utah State Historic Preservation Office (formed in 1973) gathered stakeholders to organize a year of events and to gather engaging stories and media for the celebration.

This website is a portal to a year of events and activities that cover all corners of Utah.

Events Calendar     Media     Preservation Apps     Links     Partners


Shipwreck at the Great Salt Lake