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2016 State History Conference Schedule

Online registration is now closed.  Walk in registrations will be accepted as space allows. 

Friday, Sept. 30th, 2016
Utah Cultural Celebration Center

Printable conference program

**Conference At A Glance






Plenary Session (Great Hall)

Panel: Gregory Smoak (moderator), Leisl Carr Childers, and Jay Taylor

Historical Perspectives on the Public Lands Debate in the American West

Leisl Carr Childers photoLeisl Carr Childers is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Northern Iowa where she coordinates the Public History program and teaches the American West. She earned her doctorate at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, where she worked as the Assistant Director of the Nevada Test Site Oral History Project. She garnered several awards for her research on the Great Basin, including UNLV’s prestigious President’s Fellowship, UNI’s Faculty Summer Fellowship, and the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies Summer and Publication Awards. Her experiences collecting oral histories from those who worked at the test site or were affected by nuclear testing in addition to her own recreational activities on public lands provided the foundation for her project. Her first book, The Size of the Risk: Histories of Multiple Use in the Great Basin, received a Spur Award from the Western Writers of America and has garnered praise from reviewers in journals diverse as Montana The Magazine of Western History and the American Historical Review.

Jay Taylor photoJoseph E. Taylor III is a professor of history at Simon Fraser University. He has written broadly about gentrification and the struggles to control access to natural resources, including Making Salmon, about the fisheries crisis in the Pacific Northwest, and Pilgrims of the Vertical, about the cultural and environmental stakes of modern rock climbing. His current research focuses on the legislative history of Progressive Era and New Deal conservation, and he is mapping the history of transfer payments to western counties for activities occurring on federal lands.






World War I in Rural Utah (Room 101 and 102)

  • Robert S. Voyles (chair)
  • Kerry William Bate: Kanarraville Women Fight World War I
  • Robert S. McPherson: Native American Reaction to World War I
  • Allan Kent Powell: World War I in Castle Valley: The Impact of the War on Carbon and Emery Counties

Early Rural Utah in the Uinta Basin (Room 104)

  • Lee Kreutzer (chair)
  • Elizabeth Hora-Cook: Public Spaces and Private Places: The Construction of Social Landscapes in Jones Hole Canyon, Utah
  • Judson Byrd Finley: The Fremont Archaeology of Dinosaur National Monument: Fifty Years after Breternitz

Evaluating The Awkward State of Utah (Great Hall East)

  • Panel: Brad Westwood (moderator), Jay H. Buckley, Brian Q. Cannon, Matthew Godfrey, Lisa Olsen Tait, John Sillito

Accessing Statewide Heritage Resources (Room105)

  • Panel: Roger Roper (moderator), Jennifer Ortiz, Megan Van Frank, Janell Tuttle, Ray Matthews

Representatives from several agencies and organizations will describe the programs (including grants) they have for assisting communities with history-related projects.

Bringing the Art of Decorative Paper Cutting into the Twenty-first Century (Board Room)

  • Susannah Nilsson, Cindy Bean






Lunch Program

12:10 p.m. Welcome
Dina Blaes, Chair, Board of State History

12:15 p.m. Update on Division of State History
Brad Westwood, Director, Division of State History

12:20 p.m. 2016 Annual Utah State History Awards
Dina Blaes, Chair, Board of State History

12:35 p.m. Introduction of Dr. Patty Limerick
Dina Blaes, Chair, Board of State History

12:40 p.m. Keynote

Quicksand, Cactus, and the Power of History in Polarized Times:

Bringing Juanita Brooks and Dale L. Morgan Back into Our Conversation

Dr. Patty Limerick, Faculty Director and Chair of the Board of the Center of the American West

As chroniclers tracking the journeys of human beings through the terrain of time, today’s historians stand in an unsettled relationship with their own predecessors and forebears. It is not uncommon for historians to treat the work of the historical writers of the past as outmoded and irrelevant, even as they lament the public’s failure to pay proper respect to the importance of the past! And yet, as this talk will reveal, intense feelings and attitudes—impatience to inspiration, vexation to affectionswirl and surge just beneath the surface of one of the world’s dreariest terms:  “the historiography of the American West.” Seizing the welcome opportunity to speak at the Utah State History Conference in 2016, Patty Limerick will explore the examples set by Utah historians, Juanita Brooks and Dale L. Morgan. How can the work, conduct, and character of those two close friends guide us today in the strenuous work of applying historical perspective to the dilemmas of the contemporary West? Leaving a legacy of guidance for her successors in Western American history, Juanita Brooks recorded the advice that her cowboy father gave her:

I’ve learned that if I ride in the herd, I am lost—totally helpless. One who rides counter to [the herd] is trampled and killed. One who only trails behind means little, because he leaves all responsibility to others. It is the cowboy who rides the edge of the herd, who sings and calls and makes himself heard who helps direct the course. . . . So don’t lose yourself, and don’t ride away and desert the outfit. Ride the edge of the herd and be alert, but know your directions, and call out loud and clear. Chances are, you won’t make any difference, but on the other hand, you just might.

It may not be an everyday custom for Western American historians to embrace a life lesson offered by Western American cowboys, but on September 30, 2016, Patty Limerick will give this a try.


Patty Limerick is the 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. Limerick received her Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale University in Yale University in 1980, and from 1980 to 1984 she was an Assistant Professor of History at Harvard. In 1985 she published Desert Passages, followed in 1987 by her best-known work, The Legacy of Conquest, an overview and reinterpretation of Western American history that has stirred up a great deal of both academic and public debate. In 2012 she published A Ditch in Time: The City, the West, and Water, a history of water in Denver. Limerick is also a prolific essayist.

Limerick has received a number of awards and honors recognizing the impact of her scholarship and her commitment to teaching, including the MacArthur Fellowship (1995 to 2000) and the Hazel Barnes Prize, the University of Colorado’s highest award for teaching and research (2001). She has chaired the 2011 Pulitzer jury in History.

Limerick has served as President of the Organization of American Historians, American Studies Association, the Western History Association, and the Society of American Historians, and as the Vice President of the Teaching Division of the American Historical Association. She is currently the President of the Organization of American Historians.

In 1986, Limerick co-founded the Center of the American West, and since 1995 it has been her primary point of affiliation. During her tenure, the Center has published a number of books, including the influential Atlas of the New West (1997), and a series of lively, balanced, and to-the-point reports on compelling Western issues.

The Center of the American West serves as a forum committed to the civil, respectful, problem-solving exploration of important, often contentious, public issues.






What Role Do Historians Play in Public Land and Water Policy? (Rooms 101 & 102)

  • Panel: Patty Limerick, Joseph E. Taylor III, Leisl Carr Childers, and Jedediah Rogers (moderator)

The conference theme provides a forum for historians and scholars to apply their methodology and discipline to questions that have contemporary—and, frequently, political—resonance. But what role, precisely, does the historian play in contributing to sensitive, political issues over public lands, water, and environmental conflict? The discussion will focus not so much on public lands and water as on the boundaries, limitations, and strengths of the discipline of history to pressing contemporary western issues.

New Methods, Historical Innovation (Room 104)

  • Gregory C. Thompson (chair)
  • Justin Sorensen: Exploring Utah’s Nuclear History through the Downwinders of Utah Archive
  • Cami Ann Dilg: The past that was differs little from the past that was not”: Pictographs and Petroglyphs in Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian or the Evening Redness in the West
  • Kenneth P. Cannon: Across the Desert: The Archaeology of the Chinese Railroad Workers, Box Elder County, Utah

Evolving Small Towns (Room 105)

  • Dina Blaes (chair)
  • Linda Thatcher: J. C. Penney Stores and How They Changed Rural Main Streets in Utah
  • Michael Hansen: Plat for the City of Zion: Past, Present, and Future
  • Shannon Ellsworth: Handcarts, Homesteads, and Hipsters: What Millennials Have in Common with Mormon Pioneers

The Personal and the Political (Great Hall – west)

  • Colleen Whitley (chair)
  • Devan Jensen and Kenneth L. Alford: Cynthia Park Stowell: Wife of a Utah War POW
  • Walter R. Jones: A Tragic Set of Events in Early-Twentieth-Century Rural Uinta County, Wyoming
  • Kenneth L. Cannon II: Frank Cannon, the Salt Lake Tribune, and the Alta Club

Lark, Utah: A Public History Event (Great Hall – east)

  • Chris Merritt, Utah State History, Antiquities Section
  • Dr. Ted Moore, Salt Lake Community College
  • Jessica Montcalm, Division of Oil, Gas, and Mining
  • Steve Richarson and Ren Willie, Lark Residents
  • Betsey Welland, Marriott Library, University of Utah
  • Margaret Benson, Marriott Library

In 1978, retirees, immigrants, mine workers, and others were displaced from their homes at Lark by mine expansion. Over the last three years, archaeologists and historians with the Utah Division of State History, Salt Lake Community College, University of Utah, and Utah State University have worked with former Lark residents, or their descendants, to tell their story again. Session will include formal presentations on the town’s history.  In the Board Room, an oral history booth, a document scanning table and more will be available.

Lark Oral Histories (Board Room)






Rural Utah, National Destinations: Developing Utah’s National Parks (Rooms 101 & 102)

  • Leighton M. Quarles (chair and moderator)
  • Susan Rhoades Neel: National Park Expansion in Utah during the New Deal
  • Paula Mitchell: The Grand Circle Tour: Early Tourism in Zion, Bryce, North Rim, and Cedar Breaks
  • Michael Shamo: Creating Canyonlands: Southeastern Utah’s Bid to Benefit from Federal Lands

This hybrid paper session/panel discussion explores the dynamics of national park development in Utah with an emphasis on interaction with and impact on surrounding communities. Following the presentations a brief panel discussion will address the ongoing relevance of these overlapping histories.

Voices from the Desert: Rural Issues in Southeastern Utah (Room 104)

  • Panel: Robert S. McPherson (moderator and panelist), Winston Hurst, Rick Eldredge, Mike Noel

Participants will address the loss and acquisition of land by Native Americans; the use and abuse of Ancestral Puebloan sites and artifacts; the multifaceted issues of law enforcement in a complex, disputed environment; and the impact of the Grand-Staircase Monument on residents twenty years after its inception. Moving from past to present, panelists will share views on how history has shaped contemporary issues.

Land Stewardship in Northern Utah (Room 105)

  • Dave Whittekiend (chair)
  • Charles Condrat: Watersheds and Historic Properties: Environmental Rehabilitation and Resulting Affects to Historic Character
  • Carol Majeske: Collaborative Efforts and Successful Reforestation, a History of the Salt Lake Forest Reserve
  • Rachelle Handley: The Legacy of Recreation and Historic Buildings: Preservation and Adaptive Re-Use on the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest
  • Scott Bushman: John Fell Squires and the Creation of the Logan Forest Reserve

Industrial and Natural Landscapes (Great Hall – west)

  • Nelson Knight (chair)
  • Mark Karpinski: Utah Coal Company Towns: Rural Towns Created to Fuel Western Urbanization
  • Susie Petheram: The Jordan River Then and Now: From Rural Resource to Urban Resource
  • Jessica F. Montcalm: Echoes from the Camp: Sego as a Case Study in Identifying an Industrial Landscape

Lark, Utah: A Public History Event (continued) (Great Hall – east)

In 1978, retirees, immigrants, mine workers, and others were displaced from their homes at Lark by mine expansion. Over the last three years, archaeologists and historians with the Utah Division of State History, Salt Lake Community College, University of Utah, and Utah State University have worked with former Lark residents, or their descendants, to tell their story again. Session will include formal presentations on the town’s history, an oral history booth, a document scanning table and more.

Lark Oral Histories (continued) (Board Room)

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.

Online registration is now closed. Walk in registrations will be accepted as space allows.