How have Utah historians plied their craft over the years? Why don’t historians agree about the past and its meaning? Are historians—and the books they write—products of their times? We met with Gary Topping, author of Utah Historians and the Reconstruction of Western History, among other works, to begin to answer some of these questions. This free-ranging conversation introduces us to the work of Utah historians over the years, beginning with Bancroft and continuing through modern practitioners. Topping entertains us, in a way perhaps only he can, with his reflections on the historian’s quest to tell the story of Utah’s past. We make available the audio and a transcript of the conversation.
In a visit to Utah State University, where Ellsworth taught for many years, we sat down with Robert Parson to discuss Ellsworth and his place among Utah historians. Parson is the author of “Neither Poet nor Prophet: S. George Ellsworth and the History of Utah,” published in the winter 2015 UHQ. Readers will benefit from Parson’s deep knowledge of Ellsworth’s life and his approach to history. Here we present the text of our conversation.
Ellsworth, “Utah History: Retrospect and Prospect,” Utah Historical Quarterly (Winter 1972).
- Our conversations with Topping and Parson reference this article, which Ellsworth wrote at the invitation of UHQ editors to assess the state of the field. (After clicking the link above, be sure to select the title of the article in the left-column menu.)
- These letters, located in the S. George Ellsworth Papers at the Utah State University, describe Ellsworth’s progress of his work on a textbook for grade students on Utah history—a project that took him fifteen years to bring to publication.
- Located in the Leonard J. Arrington Papers at USU, this diary entry details the founding of the Western Historical Quarterly. Arrington and Ellsworth served as editor and managing editor, respectively.
- At Ellsworth’s passing in December 1997, his longtime associate and friend Everett Cooley remarked that there “has been no greater devotion to history than that displayed by the life of S. George Ellsworth.”