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Category Archives: Utah State Historical Society

Founding of the Utah Historical Society

The Founding of the Utah State Historical Society

The following text comes verbatim from Glen M. Leonard’s “The Utah State Historical Society, 1897 – 1972” (Utah Historical Quarterly, Volume 40, Number 4, Fall 1972) and Gary Topping’s “One Hundred Years at the Utah State Historical Society” (Utah Historical Quarterly, Volume 65, Number 3, Summer 1972).

[On July 14, 1897, the Deseret Evening News carried] a “Historical Society Call” addressed to the people of Utah and inviting all interested persons to an organizational meeting at the Templeton Hotel on July 22 to form a Utah State Historical Society.[1]

The resulting call of Governor Heber M. Wells brought twenty-seven persons together at the Templeton Hotel on Thursday, July 22, 1987. The Utah State Historical Society was on its way exactly fifty years after the vanguard of pioneer wagons entered the Salt Lake Valley.[2]

Why form a historical society at all and why at that particular time? There is an obvious and simple answer in the interest in history naturally aroused by the pioneer Golden Jubilee. That emotional impetus, the organizers hoped, could be carried through to institutional expression. The “Historical Society Call” began by recognizing that “the ‘Jubilee celebration’ of the advent of the Pioneers [is] an appropriate time for the founding of a society.”[3]

Governor [Heber M.] Wells called the July 22 meeting to order, recognized the fact that the organization was the brainchild of Jerrold R. Letcher, and appointed him chairman.[4]

Letcher’s stated goals for the organization in the “Historical Society Call” have a familiarly modern ring to them, for they anticipate, at least in embryonic form, some of the … major programs in our own day: … the exploration and investigation of aboriginal monuments and remains” (thus anticipating the Antiquities Section); collection and preservation of “manuscripts, documents, papers, and tracts of value” (anticipating the Library); and dissemination of historical information and “inter-change of views and criticisms” through scheduled meetings (anticipating the annual meetings … and perhaps even the Publications Section). Little imagination is required to foresee the Historic Preservation Section developing as an extension into the historical period of the concern for aboriginal sites (though historically the Historic Preservation Section would slightly precede the Antiquities Section).[5]

Participating in the founding rites were the key figures of Utah’s new government, civic leaders, and prominent religious hierarchs. In the slate of thirteen names proposed as officers and board of the initial organization one senses a careful balancing of sectarian, political, suffragist, and geographic interests.[6]

The Society’s earliest annual meetings were lively affairs featuring both music and intellectual stimulation. The first one took place in the Theosophical Hall on West Temple on the evening of January 17, 1898.[7]

[Jerrold R. Letcher] kept the minutes faithfully for eighteen years and provided a thread of continuity during that first period of the Society’s history. These were years in which the officers served as little more than a caretaker government for an organization which everyone agreed had ample reason to exist but no sizeable treasury from which to operate. The only visible activity from 1897 to 1916 was the meeting convened annually on the third Monday of January, often in the Deseret National Bank. … [The] sole purpose of many of those small gatherings was the constitutionally required election of officers.[8]

After the 1918, 1919, and 1920 annual meetings which featured addresses (though only the 1918 meeting included music), the tradition was completely abandoned except for the perfunctory elections, until 1930.[9]

The Society’s hard times following World War I are graphically symbolized by the board minutes themselves. Handsomely typewritten on ledger sheets during Jerrold Letcher’s tenure as recording secretary, they rapidly declined in both content and appearance. When Letcher resigned in 1920 to fill a state position …, his successors sometimes penciled their minutes on odd chunks of scratch paper, and in three instances merely on 3-by-5 index cards.[10]

The Society achieved the status of a state agency in 1917 and received its first state appropriation in that year—two hundred dollars to care for the artifacts from the Hall of Relics. It is hard to overestimate the importance of that achievement. … Becoming a state agency laid the groundwork for shifting the Society’s base of support from a tiny group—wealthy and influential though they were—to the people of Utah themselves. It was the beginning of the democratization of the Society, and that democratic support has been the Society’s greatest strength.[11]

It was obvious from the beginning that if the Society were to fulfill any part of its ambitious goals of assembling a library and manuscript collection and curation of the Hall of Relics artifacts and other material objects, some kind of office or museum space would be required. With both the governor and the secretary of state of Utah present on the Society’s board, it was natural that the possibility of rooms in the future State Capitol, then under discussion, would be considered.[12]

Thus, even though the minutes laconically mention the Society’s first meeting in its new room in the basement of the Capitol on January 17, 1916, the event must have been the occasion for considerable rejoicing. At last, cramped and isolated as its new quarters were, the Society could begin its full role as initially planned.[13]

The Society in the early 1920s was searching for an identity within the halls of government where it had been provided with a tiny, first floor Capitol office and minimal expenses. It found itself—and inaugurated a new period of significant accomplishment—after almost fading into disorganization. During several years of inattention to the details of staggered terms, the board of control, traditionally elected by the general membership, had come up short two members. Society leaders decided the solution was appointment by the governor; Governor Charles R. Mabey, a friend of history, liked the idea. It would strengthen state control over the policy-making board and tie the Society closer to state government. The change was authorized by the 1925 legislature.[14]

[Starting in 1927 J. Cecil Alter began] the transformation of the Society into a vigorous organization with authentic scholarly standards fulfilling a vitally important function in Utah cultural life. [Encouraged by the businessman-scholar Herbert S. Auerbach, aided by the tireless secretary-manager Marguerite L. Sinclair, and supported by the remarkable self-made historian Dale L. Morgan], Alter started the Utah Historical Quarterly [in 1928], began assembling a serious Utah history library, and secured the first regular appropriation from the state legislature. The modern Historical Society had begun to emerge.[15]

This thirty-two page [Utah Historical Quarterly] fulfilled the Society’s longing to disseminate historical information in a more permanent format than was possible through letters or sporadic lecture meetings.[16]

The Great Depression had so constricted state revenues by 1933 that the legislature was forced to cut the Society’s budget deeply enough to kill the young Quarterly. … In 1939, the legislature was able to appropriate $5,000 for the next biennium, and the Quarterly was resurrected.[17]

The Society … [from 1936 to 1948] moved through three overlapping phases. The creation of a small research library with a generous gift of books from Alter and revival of the Quarterly in 1939, accompanied by a consistent membership effort by Sinclair established the Society on its modern foundation.[18]

Marguerite Sinclair’s office from the early 1940s fulfilled numerous requests to proofread inscriptions written for state highway markers and some inquiries from private history groups seeking verification of their proposed historical markers.[19]

[F]or several years after 1941 the Society was transformed into a historical records office. It chronicled Utah’s participation in World War II, an assignment which diverted it from other planned activities. In the late 1940s an awareness born of New Deal records surveys turned the Society toward its obligation to preserve noncurrent state and county records. An archives program was the hope of board member William R. Palmer, but more pressing challenges faced officers as first J. Cecil Alter moved and then Miss Sinclair married and both resigned.[20]

The first goal of Utah State University history professor Joel E. Ricks when he began an eight-year term as president in 1949 was to find a qualified editor for Society publications. … From a field of a half-dozen candidates, the board selected A. Russell Mortensen. … He was hired September 1, 1950, as an executive secretary-editor, a position renamed “director” midway in his tenure to reflect his strengthened administrative role.[21]

[A. R. Mortensen] was not only the first Ph.D. to lead the Society but also the first person with any academic training in history at all to have been involved in management of the organization.[22]

The task of building a research library was entrusted to John W. James, Jr., librarian from 1952 to 1971. … Professional direction for the library attracted numerous gifts of all kinds and provided a valuable service for Utah historians. Another major program inaugurated during this period was the archives. Despite inadequate funding and substandard housing, Everett L. Cooley charted a solid path for implementing records management and archival programs as state archivist from 1954 to 1960.[23]

The introduction of professionals as administrator, librarian, and archivist created a new image for the Society. Professional advice had been available to the Society for years from historians serving as part-time, unpaid board members; their determination to introduce trained specialists was made possible through a swelling of financial support from the state. The increase was threefold during the Mortensen years. [24]

[In the early 1950s] the library and manuscript collection were extremely modest; the library consisted of about 1,5000 volumes occupying three glass-front bookcases … and the manuscript collection was little more than the WPA Historical Records Survey materials. … Obviously the Historical Society had reached a limit on its growth and would have to move if it were to expand.[25]

The Society’s most critical physical need in the early 1950s was solved … when Dr. Mortensen obtained the Governor’s Mansion.[26]

Occupant Governor J. Bracken Lee … was known to dislike the home’s lack of privacy. … In February 1957, the staff unpacked Society belongings at 603 East South Temple to begin a new era of growth for the Society on its sixtieth anniversary.[27]

The Society by then was already basking in an aura of new popularity. Professionalizing it had brought new respectability in the academic world. Interestingly enough this had also increased acceptance generally among history buffs. Under Dr. Mortensen’s personable leadership, a well-attended annual dinner and bimonthly lecture series were attracting new members and the public; a redesigned Utah Historical Quarterly with its special summer issues helped boost membership threefold to more than eleven hundred by 1958; and generous publicity and an involved board greatly extended public awareness of the Society.[28]

The original bylaws of the Society allowed for the presentation of certificates of honor. The first were granted when Dr. Mortensen introduced the Fellow and Honorary Life Membership awards in 1960. Since that time other award categories have been added to recognize significant contributions in teaching, scholarship, and service.[29]

The Mansion heralded in 1957 as a cure-all for Society space needs swiftly became crowded as archival work multiplied. … A make-shift records center established in four basement rooms of the Capitol in September 1961 expanded the division’s records management services to more state agencies, while the archives itself began filling available corners in the Mansion’s cellar. With the need for an environmentally-controlled building greater than ever in the mid-1960s, state officials worked with the Society in planning for an appropriate solution.[30]

The State Archives ceased to be a part of the Historical Society’s program in 1968 as a result of recommendations made by the so-called Littler Hoover Commission of 1965.[31]

[The Historical Society] retained its traditional functions and has since moved toward an expansion of activities under the legislative mandate to collect, preserve, and publish Utah’s history.[32]

In the 1967 legislation, the Historical Society is “authorized to solicit memberships” and “authorized to receive bequests, gifts, and endowments of money or property.”[33]

That same year [1967], a Division of State History was created as one of seven units under a Department of Development Services.[34]

Housed within the Division of State History, the Historical Society is now a sister program to entities such as the State Historic Preservation Office, the Antiquities program, and Utah History Day. Today, the Utah State Historical Society continues to serve the people of Utah by publishing the Utah Historical Quarterly, hosting the annual history conference and other events, and serving as a vehicle to obtain and preserve artifacts for the state’s collection.

[1] Topping, Gary, “One Hundred Years at the Utah State Historical Society,” Utah Historical Quarterly, Volume 65, Number 3, Summer 1972, pages 203 – 204.

[2] Leonard, Glen M., “The Utah State Historical Society, 1897 – 1972,” Utah Historical Quarterly, Volume 40, Number 4, Fall 1972, page 301.

[3] Topping, “One Hundred Years at the Utah State Historical Society,” 206.

[4] Ibid, 210.

[5] Ibid, 209-210.

[6] Leonard, “The Utah State Historical Society, 1897-1972,” 301.

[7] Topping, “One Hundred Years at the Utah State Historical Society,” 213-214.

[8] Leonard, “The Utah State Historical Society, 1897-1972,” 304.

[9] Topping, “One Hundred Years at the Utah State Historical Society,” 218-219.

[10] Ibid, 219.

[11] Ibid, 219.

[12] Ibid, 219-220.

[13] Ibid, 220.

[14] Leonard, “The Utah State Historical Society, 1897 – 1972,” 304.

[15] Topping, “One Hundred Years at the Utah State Historical Society,” 224.

[16] Leonard, “The Utah State Historical Society, 1897 – 1972,” 304-305.

[17] Topping, “One Hundred Years at the Utah State Historical Society,” 226.

[18] Leonard, “The Utah State Historical Society, 1897 – 1972,” 317.

[19] Ibid, 315.

[20] Ibid, 307.

[21] Ibid, 307 – 308.

[22] Topping, “One Hundred Years at the Utah State Historical Society, 1897 – 1972,” 239.

[23] Leonard, “The Utah State Historical Society, 1897 – 1972,” 308

[24] Ibid, 308.

[25] Topping, “One Hundred Years at the Utah State Historical Society, 1897 – 1972,” 242.

[26] Leonard, “The Utah State Historical Society, 1897 – 1972,” 308.

[27] Ibid, 309.

[28] Ibid, 309.

[29] Ibid, 318.

[30] Ibid, 311.

[31] Topping, “One Hundred Years at the Utah State Historical Society,” 261.

[32] Leonard, “The Utah State Historical Society, 1897 – 1972,” 334.

[33] “Laws of the State of Utah,” 12th Regular Session of the Legislature of the State of Utah, Jan. 8 to March 8, 1917, 478.

[34] Leonard, “The Utah State Historical Society, 1897 – 1972,” 311.

WWI Resources

Educational resources: Curriculum and more, searchable by grade level, subject, and type

1914-1918-online: International Encyclopedia of the First World War

Kent Day Family Collection

Utah and World War I: special issue of Utah Historical Quarterly

Utah and the Great War: The Beehive State and the World War I Experience, ed. by Allan Kent Powell: a collection of essays exploring the complexity of WWI and its impact on Utahns.

State Legislature’s Resolution (PDF)

Governor’s Declaration, April 2017 (PDF)

Utah in the World War, by Noble Warrum: published under the auspices of the Utah Council of Defense in 1924.

The Great War, from American Experience

National WWI Museum and Memorial

Documents from the Creation of Cedar Breaks National Monument

On August 22, 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a proclamation creating a national monument at Cedar Breaks. The following July, residents of Iron County, joined by state and national dignitaries, formally dedicated the monument. The celebration masked nearly two decades of wrangling between the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service, as well as between the towns of Parowan and Cedar City, over the proposed monument. Below we reproduce transcribed documents from those years of conflict.

R. E. Gery, September 1923 memorandum

Leon Kneipp, 1932 address

Report by F. A. Waugh, Bryce Canyon and Cedar Breaks, 1923

Leo A. Borah, “Utah, Carved by Winds and Waters,” National Geographic Magazine, May 1936

“Big Time Planned at Cedar Breaks,Parowan Times June 15, 1934

“Plans Maturing For Celebration at Breaks,” Parowan Times June 22, 1934

“Celebrate the Glorious 4th at Cedar Breaks: Plans Complete for Big Formal Opening,Parowan Times, June 29, 1934

“Breaks Monument Dedication Attended by Thousands,” Iron County Record July 5, 1934

“Cedar Breaks Area Fittingly Dedicated,” Parowan Times July 6, 1934

 

UHQ Summer 2017 Web Extras

The University of Utah and the Utes, As Seen in the Utonian

The University of Utah took up the Ute name and imagery in the early twentieth century, just when other professional and collegiate teams did so, and since then its representation has run the gamut from the offensive to the more benign. Here we include a gallery of images the U’s yearbook.

 

 

Rape Law in Mid-Twentieth-Century Utah

Many things–including changing laws and misleading statistics–complicate the study of sexual violence. Still, it is possible to tell that during the 1930s and 1940s, the number of rapes in Utah rose. This occurred at a time when the court system was quite hostile to female victims. Click here for a document related to a case discussed at length in the summer 2017 issue of UHQ.

 

Documents from the Creation of Cedar Breaks National Monument

On August 22, 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a proclamation creating a national monument at Cedar Breaks. The following July, residents of Iron County, joined by state and national dignitaries, formally dedicated the monument. The celebration masked nearly two decades of wrangling between the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service, as well as between the towns of Parowan and Cedar City, over the proposed monument. Follow this link for transcribed documents from those years of conflict.

 

 

The Seventh Census of the United States: Utah and Slavery

The Seventh Census of the United States was scheduled to be counted in 1850. In the provisional state of Deseret, Brigham Young was named the census agent, but before the census could be taken Congress created Utah Territory. Congress appointed Young as the territorial census agent. In addition to the delay that caused, census officials did not receive materials and instructions due to slow mail service.

Finally, April 1, 1851, became the reference date for the Seventh Census in Utah Territory. Assistant agents E. D. Rich, Reuben McBride, Brigham H. Young, and Thomas Bullock began the count using lined papers to record the data because they still hadn’t received official blanks. In July 1851, after the enumeration was completed, Thomas Bullock and Robert Campbell began to recopy the entire census.

On October 31, 1851, a copy was sent to the United States Census Superintendent. This copy—the “official” copy—did not list all the slave inhabitants of Utah on a Schedule 2 for each county. The copy Campbell made of the original enumeration did not show any slaves living in Utah. Known black slaves are listed along with the free white population, giving a false impression that no one was held in bondage in the territory. The only exception is the Schedule 2 for Utah County which shows slaves who were on the way to San Bernardino, California, with their masters. John Bernhisel had advised LDS leaders, who were interested in seeing Utah Territory become a state, to hide the slave population. The official copy of the 1850/1851 census does just that.

The published, official version the 1850 census for Utah that is housed in the National Archives and reproduced on websites is not the “original” version that shows more of the real slave population for the territory. The original version is housed with LDS church records in the Church History Library in Salt Lake as MS 2672.

The different versions of the census have made it very difficult to count and identify slaves held in early Utah. If historians only look at the readily available official census, it gives a skewed picture of who was really in the territory and what their legal status was. Looking at the original version is necessary to get a more accurate count.


IMAGE I-“Official” Schedule 2-Slave Inhabitants in Utah County, Deseret

This image shows the slave schedule submitted to the federal government. It is the published version that shows up on websites which names slaveholders and their slaves who were planning to leave Utah and settle San Bernardino. A few of those listed in that schedule, like Hark Lay and Vilate Crosby, are listed in the Slave Schedule and also among the listings of “Free Inhabitants of Great Salt Lake County” (Schedule 1). The comment “Going to California” written in the remarks column seems to be there to assure federal officials that slaves then in Utah Territory would be leaving.


IMAGE II-Original Schedule 2-Slave Inhabitants-Utah, Salt Lake, and Davis Counties, Utah Territory

This image is the earlier original slave schedule for three counties. It is part of the version of the 1850/51 census that remained in LDS archives. It names some of the black slaves who were not going to California but would continue to live with their masters in Utah. It is, by no means, a complete list of Utah’s slaves, but it does include the African-American Redds. Since there is nothing listed in the column that asked for manumission information for Venus, Chaney, Luke, Marinda, or Amy, it is evidence they were still considered to be the property of the Redd family in 1851. Sam’s status is qualified by the comment that he will be free when he is twenty-one.

Even though Schedule 2 was intended to be an enumeration of slave inhabitants, someone lined out the word “slave” in the title and “colored” has been written in—again, apparently an attempt to disguise the real status of those listed on this schedule.


IMAGE III-“Official” Schedule 1-Free Inhabitants in Utah County, Utah Territory

This page lists the John Hardison Redd family in the “official” census. This is the version found in published census records. The black women and mixed race younger servants appear to be free blacks living in the same household with the white Redds. Their race is notated, but they are listed on the same schedule and in the same way that the Isaac and Jane Manning James family is listed—a free black family.

In the “official” version of the 1850/51 census, some other known slaves are listed on Schedule 1 in the same way as the Redd slaves, with a racial notation indicating they are black. Others who were living in Great Salt Lake and Davis counties are listed in Schedule 1 with no mention of their race. It gives the appearance that they were free white Utahns.

Other than the Redd slaves and Green Flake, none of the slaves listed in the original Schedule 2, reproduced here, are listed anywhere in the official version of the census.

 

Utah Historical Quarterly Winter 2017


Volume 85, Number 1 (Winter 2017 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 history.utah.gov/uhqextras.

WEB EXTRAS: See here 


IN THIS ISSUE


The Utah Historical Quarterly first devoted an issue entirely to architectural history in 1975, with “Toward an Architectural Tradition”; just over a decade later came a second such issue, investigating “Architecture at the Turn of the Century.” The time has come to add to this body of work. In this issue of UHQ, we focus on historic preservation and on place-based history of the built environment.

Historic preservation has a variety of meanings, depending on one’s perspective and experience. In the broadest of definitions, it encompasses the movement to document and save that which is meaningful to our collective history. While to some this phrase may convey the stoppage of time, to others it represents change. Places are not frozen; they are always evolving. The historic preservation process gives us a chance to collectively determine if and how historic places work within the context of a changing built environment. You can’t see historic preservation in a museum. While history is physically present around us every day, it’s part of a temporary museum undergoing permanent change.

Preservation embraces a cross-section of community-based practices and institutions that include historic architecture and archaeology, as well as museums, libraries, and archives, festivals, tourism, and long-lived businesses. Though representing even a thread of all these areas in a special issue would be a challenge, the essays in this issue demonstrate the breadth of knowledge of Utah’s architectural historians and archaeologists, highlighting some of the tremendous
research and writing in the field. The authors’ expertise and the UHQ’s support of this type
of research help generate more public understanding or places that matter. This issue demonstrates the important role of historic preservation in Utah in determining how our state changes for the better when we consider places of meaning—what I refer to in my opening essay as sites of conscience.

Bim Oliver served as a consultant in the documentation of the midcentury development of the University of Utah campus. The years after World War II saw extensive growth in student population, though it took the state twenty-five years to catch up to the demand for greater access and new academic programs. The buildings constructed during those years of development and change are now frequently discussed—and targeted—for demolition. One goal of Oliver’s documentation was to foster greater public appreciation for why these places were built in the first place and how they were used. Although they look different than the older structures forming Presidents Circle, Oliver argues, midcentury, Modernist buildings still deserve preservation.

Given the amount of federally owned public lands in Utah, partnerships between the managing federal agencies, interested stakeholders, lessees of federal property, and the public at large are essential in administering the cultural resources on those lands. Richa Wilson, a Forest Service architectural historian, offers an overview of the evolution of Forest Service architecture in Utah dating to the early twentieth century. She shows how buildings constructed in the state’s forests both reflected and departed from mainstream trends. The changing nature of federal
forest management and policies gave each period distinctive design characteristics that continue to be identifiable today.

In his essay, Thomas Carter, an emeritus professor at the University of Utah, argues that historic
preservationists derive cultural meaning through analysis and drawing. Through this series of artistic drawings, Carter highlights a wide range of building types and forms, architectural styles, and influences in construction. His essay also demonstrates the importance of drawing to historic preservation and how that skill is fading with each generation.

Finally, Sheri Murray Ellis, a cultural resource consultant, details the growth and decline of the Ogden Union Stockyard. This large and profitable facility came to exist largely through the instruments of technology—especially the railroad—and, in the end, newer technologies made the yards obsolete. Today, they are the site of redevelopment efforts.

I want to acknowledge my tremendous appreciation to the authors in this issue and to the UHQ editors for their willingness to produce the issue and persistent, professional guidance to oversee its completion.

Kirk Huffaker, Guest Editor
Preservation Utah

 


ARTICLES

Becoming More Conscientious of Utah’s Sites of Conscience
By Kirk Huffaker

Modernism on Campus: Architecture at the University of Utah, 1945–1975
By Bim Oliver

Building the Forest Service in Utah: An Architectural Context
By Richa Wilson

Studying the Unstudied: Utah Drawings from the Western Regional Architecture Program Collection, Marriott Library, University of Utah, 1982–2016
By Thomas Carter

The Last Word in Stockyard Construction: The Rise and Fall of the Ogden Union Stockyard
By Sheri Murray Ellis


BOOK REVIEWS

Leisl Carr Childers, The Size of the Risk: Histories of Multiple Use in the Great Basin. Reviewed by Joseph E. Taylor III

Matthew L. Harris and Newell G. Bringhurst, eds., The Mormon Church and Blacks: A Documentary History. Reviewed by Russell Stevenson

Larry Gerlach, Alma Richards, Olympian. Reviewed by Chris Elzey


BOOK NOTICES

Jonathan Foster, Lake Mead National Recreation Area: A History of America’s First National Playground

Photographs by Peter Goin, Essays by Peter Friederici, A New Form of Beauty: Glen Canyon beyond Climate Change

Modernism at the University of Utah

Editors’ Note: Bim Oliver, author of “Modernism on Campus: Architecture at the University of Utah, 1945-1975,” offers here information on mid-century university building plans that never materialized. Through the process of researching modernism at the University of Utah, Oliver compiled a list of quotations that reveal a light, humorous side of university officials–and these are reproduced below. Finally, we offer additional photographs that didn’t make it into the published article.


Projects That Didn’t Materialize

Like many of the buildings in the post-World War II era, Merrill Engineering was constructed in phases.

The building that exists constitutes the first three phases of the project, completed in relatively short order starting in the late 1950s. But the original concept for the engineering center also envisioned both a circular auditorium and a six-story classroom building. The former was dropped early on, but the classroom building remained an integral part of the center’s design as “Phase IV.” It was never constructed, however, due to lack of funding. Image 3

As the Olpin Union was nearing completion, the Campus Planning Committee contemplated the construction of a “campanile” (bell tower) in the open space just south of the new building. “The campus badly needs some symbol indicative of education that will complete the triangle within the city,” the committee observed in 1958, “i.e., the capitol dome represents State government, the temple, religion and perhaps a campanile to represent education, and which can be plainly seen just as the other two elements are.” Although the campanile was never built, the Social and Behavioral Sciences Building eventually served as the landmark envisioned by the committee. Image 4

The bookstore today occupies the same site that it occupied in the years following World War II. Busy as it is today, it was considered of secondary significance by university planners. More to the point, they felt that its location was better suited for “a heavy use faculty, administrative or academic use.” So they considered two primary alternatives: a new building north of the Union and a structure between the Union and Orson Spencer Hall, “designed as an underground facility, with the floor level approximately the same as the level of the major academic mall.” Due to funding limitations, however, neither was constructed.

As noted in the related article, the primary funder of Pioneer Memorial Theater, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, asked the architects to draw up plans for Pioneer Memorial Theater as a structure that replicated the Salt Lake Theater that had been located downtown for several decades. An early drawing shows this replica that was later dispensed with in favor of a more Modernist design that better accommodated the technical requirements of the theater. Image 5

There were other proposals—some conceptual, some refined—that would have significantly changed the character of campus:

  • Two campus planning maps from 1959 and 1960 showed the library as an octagon and a circle, respectively, rather than the square that exists today. As the design was finalized, administrators suggested etching inspirational quotations into the cast-stone panels that enclosed the library, an idea rejected by the architects.
  • Early site plans and renderings of the plaza to the east of the Social and Behavioral Sciences Building envisioned an elaborate fountain.
  • An architect’s rendering of the Eccles Health Sciences Library included an expansive plaza between the library to the east, the Medical Center to the north, and the College of Pharmacy to the south.
  • Options for the medical towers and townhouses south of the Medical Center included the use of Sunset Tower (recently completed at 40 South 900 East), as well as a much larger complex on the current site that would have incorporated a varying configuration of high rises and lower “garden type” apartments.
  • In the late 1960s, as the university sought to increase its supply of married student housing, planners considered developing over 200 units at the mouth of Red Butte Canyon.
  • A primary goal during the post-World War II era was to concentrate academic buildings near the center of campus. One concept considered for achieving this goal was to construct two 14-story structures—one for the Chemistry Department and one for the Physics Department. As one planner noted, however, “Shoehorning two such units into that restricted area would be most difficult, as well as visually unpleasant.”
  • Early renderings and models for the Medical Center, Special Events Center, College of Pharmacy, and Physics Building reflect significantly different design ideas than those that were actually constructed.

Humorous Quotes from Author’s Research Notes

  • “This will be a place where future wives will be trained on how to turn out the hash without burning it.” (W.J. O’Connor, chair of the Board of Regents, at the October 1951 groundbreaking for the Sterling Sill Home Living Center)
  • “At an earlier date, I received a memo from you posing the hazard that the rocks to the east of the Union Building and Orson Spencer Hall could be if we were to have a riot on campus.” (Memo from B. Blain Bradford to Bruce H. Jensen in July of 1970)
  • “Most people would agree that the fountain (Tanner Fountain across the plaza from the library) seems to be attracting the ‘undesirable’ hippie type clientele who are oftentimes quite dirty and unkempt.” (Memo from J Elroy Jones in July of 1970) Image 1
  • “Dean Hiner (College of Pharmacy) said his faculty could get along with anybody; however, if it (the site for the new College of Pharmacy building) went to the Medical Center he wanted it understood that his profession was a dignified profession and was not to be browbeaten by the Medics.” (Memo from Martin Brixen in March of 1958)
  • “Since the development of married student housing will cut out about four holes on the golf course, it was decided that detailed plans should be drawn up as quickly as possible in order that it could be explained to the Fort Douglas Club people.” (Minutes of the Planning Committee in August of 1956)
  • Avard Fairbanks first dean of the College of Fine Arts (reacting to the emergence of Modernist ideas on campus): “The corruption of art students’ principles stems from being exposed to foreign art manglers, the subversive doctrine of [-]isms, Communist-inspired and Communist-connected. These influences have one boasted goal: the destruction of our cultural tradition and priceless heritage.” (quoted in Anne Palmer Peterson. Years of Promise: The University of Utah’s A. Ray Olpin Era, 1946-1964. Salt Lake City, Utah: University of Utah Press, 2009.)
  • Orson Spencer Hole (Utah Daily Chronicle, April 17, 1956) Image 2

Photo Gallery

Image 1. Tanner Fountain. Courtesy of University of Utah Archives.

Image 2. From the Utah Daily Chronicle, April 17, 1956. Courtesy of Utah Digital Newspapers.

Image 3. This initial concept for the Merrill Engineering Center included a circular auditorium and six-story classroom building. Courtesy of University of Utah Marriott Library Special Collections.

 

 

Image 4. The original plans for the Union building included a “campanile” or bell tower in the area to the south of the building. Courtesy of University of Utah Archives.

Image 5. An early rendering of Pioneer Memorial Theater as a replica of the Salt Lake Theater. Courtesy of University of Utah Archives.

 

Utah World War I Commission

April 2017 marks the centennial of America’s entry into World War I, a defining conflict of the modern era.

To commemorate the sacrifice and involvement of Utahns in the Great War, the Utah WWI Commission will provide information and resources to the public.

News

Utah’s World War I Monuments, which details WWI memorials throughout the state, is available for free as a PDF.

Grants

The commission is offering small grants to encourage Utahns to recognize the impact of WWI in their communities.

Contact vjacobson@utah.gov for more information.

Events

April 14, 2018, 2:00 p.m.
“How They Fought: Guns, Grenades, Gas, Bayonets and Rifles”: living history demonstration by Chip Guarente
Chapman Branch Library, Salt Lake City

May 19, 2018, 10:00 a.m. 
Re-dedication of the Chapman Branch Library with color guard by men in WWI uniforms

Event listings will be updated regularly. If you know of a WWI-related event in Utah, email us at vjacobson@utah.gov.

Resources

This informational poster was created by Christina Epperson. Click here for a larger version.

Educational resources: Curriculum and more, searchable by grade level, subject, and type

1914-1918-online: International Encyclopedia of the First World War

Utah and World War I: special issue of Utah Historical Quarterly

Utah and the Great War: The Beehive State and the World War I Experience, ed. by Allan Kent Powell: a collection of essays exploring the complexity of WWI and its impact on Utahns.

State Legislature’s Resolution (PDF)

Governor’s Declaration, April 2017 (PDF)

Utah in the World War, by Noble Warrum: published under the auspices of the Utah Council of Defense in 1924.

The Great War, from American Experience

National WWI Museum and Memorial

NHD National History Day Teaching World War I: Resource to connect teachers and students to the best sources for the 100th anniversary of WWI. Includes Middle School and High School lesson modules.

 

Archives/Special Collections

LDS Church History Library: (PDF list of WWI related collections)

State Historical Society: (PDF list of Historical Society Collections relating to WWI)

University of Utah: (PDF list of WWI related items/collections held in Special Collections)

Utah State University: (PDF list of WWI related items/collections held in Special Collections)

 

 

Utah Historical Quarterly Current Issue


Volume 85, Number 2 (Spring 2017 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 history.utah.gov/uhqextras.

WEB EXTRAS: See here 


IN THIS ISSUE


Good history—produced through a devotion to truth, examination of evidence, and evocative prose—introduces readers to a world they thought they knew. Our lead article continues
in the tradition of past issues to rethink our pioneer past, this time from the perspective of the
Redds, a slave-owning family from North Carolina. John Hardison Redd and his wife Elizabeth
owned a handful of slaves, six of whom emigrated to Utah with the family. Bound by
legal obligations and family ties, blacks in Mormon country navigated waters fraught with
prejudice and judgment. Even as power relations were unequal for slaves and black Utahns,
they attempted with varying degrees of success to integrate into a social world that was not
always friendly to them. Stories like that of the Redds present the opportunity to rethink family
and community in territorial Utah. And they implicitly challenge pioneer narratives, moving
beyond simplistic, sometimes paternalistic histories to reveal a past that is more personal and
heartbreaking than we oft-times consider.

The historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich has spoken much about using a single object—say, a
quilt—as a doorway to understanding larger issues. In that manner, our second article
focuses on the popularity of a class of objects—the hoopskirt—to examine cultural exchange,
religious condemnation, and female agency in nineteenth-century Utah. The development
of the Bessemer process in 1856 facilitated the mass production of hoopskirts, and the fashion
reached its zenith in the mid-nineteenth: the same years when Euro Americans were arriving
in the Salt Lake Valley. Latter-day Saint women learned about the hoopskirt through
periodicals and, especially, emigrants from the states, but in their desire to be chic, they hit up
against the admonitions of religious leaders who encouraged simplicity and self-sufficiency.

Material consumption also figures into our third article, an examination of the referendum over an income tax on chain stores operating in the state. After the turn of the twentieth century, chain stores began sprouting up throughout the country, competing and in some cases
crowding out smaller local stores. This trend was pronounced in Utah, as retailers sold and
consumers bought goods available elsewhere in the United States. This is part of a larger story of
the economic and cultural integration of Utah. It is also a political one: as businesses and other
interests jockeyed to make known their views on economic freedom and rights, voters and
politicians publically debated the relative virtues of local and chain stores. The 1942 chainstore
tax referendum highlighted the divergent views over how to preserve local autonomy and
signaled the growing consumer spending that would characterize the postwar era.

Carl and Mathilda Harline emigrated from Sweden to the Salt Lake Valley in 1891. There
they raised a large family, their thirteenth child a boy—Leigh Adrian Harline—who reportedly
preferred practicing piano to playing outside. Our final article tells the story of Leigh Harline, who became one of Hollywood’s foremost composers. Harline learned his craft from J. Spencer Cornwall and teachers at Granite High School and the University of Utah; his career was helped along much by the new platforms of film and radio. The setting also mattered: after a Utah upbringing, Harline moved on to California in the late 1920s, where he enjoyed broadcast success and, critically, became an employee of Walt Disney. Yet there was a circularity to Harline’s career, for he returned to Utah to compose music commemorating his heritage.

Our final piece contextualizes military records recommending a road to a new post in the Uintah Basin named after Major Thomas Thornburgh. The establishment of a Ute reservation at Ouray, Utah, occasioned the need for the fort and road. The route as it was originally intended was short-lived, but it became a military supply corridor, and sections of it became Highway 40. Publication of these records continues a UHQ tradition: preserving documents for future scholarship.

 


ARTICLES

Redd Slave Histories: Family, Race, and Sex in Pioneer Utah
By Tonya Reiter

Hoop Mania: Fashion, Identity, and Religious Condemnation in Nineteenth-Century Utah
By Michelle Hill

Chained Stores: Utah’s First Referendum and the Battle over Local Autonomy
By Ted Moore

“When You Wish Upon a Star”: The Musical Legacy of Utah Composer Leigh Harline
By Sandra Dawn Brimhall and Dawn Retta Brimhall

The Park City to Fort Thornburgh Road
By Floyd A. O’Neil and Shauna O’Neil


BOOK REVIEWS

James Knipmeyer, Cass Hite: The Life of an Old Prospector. Reviewed by Robert S. McPherson

Dan Flores, Coyote America: A Natural and Supernatural History. Reviewed by Curtis Foxley

Don. B. Olsen, True Valor: Barney Clark and the Utah Artificial Heart. Reviewed by Eric Swedin


BOOK NOTICES

Frank Van Nuys, Varmints and Victims: Predator Control in the American West

William D. Street, edited by Warren R. Street, Twenty-Five Years among the Indians and Buffalo: A Frontier Memoir

John J. Hammond, Island Adventures: The Hawaiian Mission of Francis A. Hammond, 1851-1865