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Utah History Day Research Resources

US History

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Library of Congress (LOC)

Mountain West Digital Library (MWDL) – digitized primary sources from collections across
the West

National Archives & Records Administration (NARA)

The Utah Division of State History – Your Source for Utah History! 

University Research Libraries in Utah
Visit your local university library to find secondary sources such as books and articles.  Special Collections at each university house primary source materials on a wide range of topics. 

Good Places to Find Secondary Sources

More Primary Source Repositories

Museums and Historic Sites
Whether you’re working on a project that focuses on local history, national history, or international history, you’ll need both primary and secondary resources to make your project complete. Here are just some of the great places you can look for resources for your project.

If you would like to be added to this list of resources please email UtahHistoryDay@gmail.com.

Utah History Day Topic Ideas

UHD- Topic Idea Image (Western Performance)Now that you have thought about the Annual Theme, you can choose a topic to research. History Day projects can focus on Utah, United States, European, or World history.  

Make sure that your topic relates clearly to the annual theme, but most importantly, choose a subject that you are passionate about!  These are just ideas to help you get your brain started. You are free to choose a topic that does not appear on these lists. The best projects always come from topics that interest you!  

US, Europe, and World History Topic Ideas (download)

Utah Topic Ideas (download)

When you’re thinking of ideas for your History Day project, be sure to consider Utah history. Why? When you choose a local topic, you’re likely to find a wealth of primary resources right on your doorstep.  Here are some great ideas for topics with a Utah angle.  And remember, the Utah Division of State History is here to help you succeed!  

Explorers, Travel, and Trade in Early Utah

  • Rivera Expedition
  • Dominguez-Escalante Expedition
  • Shoshone, Paiute, Ute, Goshute, Navajo Trade Networks – The Old Spanish Trail
  • Trappers and the Fur Trade
  • James Beckwourth, African-American Fur Trader
  • Jim Bridger
  • Peter Skene Ogden
  • Etienne Provost
  • Jedediah Smith
  • John Weber
  • The Donner-Reed Party
  • John C. Fremont
  • Miles Goodyear
  • Stansbury Expedition (UHQ)
  • Gunnison Expedition
  • Simpson Expedition
  • Pony Express
  • John Wesley Powell
  • Hole-in-the-Rock Trek
  • John Macomb

Science and Technology in Utah History

  • Women inventors in Utah Territory (UHQ)
  • John Wesley Powell’s Geographic Surveys
  • Paleontology and Utah’s Dinosaur Rush (UHQ)
  • Dr. John Widtsoe – Father of Dry Farming
  • Invention of the Television, Philo T. Farnsworth
  • Thiokol and the Exploration of Space
  • The Artificial Heart
  • The Dirty Harry Nuclear Test, Nevada Test Site
  • The Downwinders
  • Utah’s Missile Launch Sites (UHQ)
  • Exploring Speed on the Salt Flats
  • Digital Pathbreakers: WordPerfect and Novell

Utah’s Diverse Cultures

  • Native American Histories
    • Washakie
    • Ouray
    • Tabby-To-Kwana
    • Walkara and the Walker War
    • Black Hawk War and Circleville Massacre
    • Reservation Life
    • Indian Boarding Schools in Utah
  • Mormon Histories
    • Immigrant communities
    • Mormon colonization of Deseret
    • Native American-Mormon Relations in Early Utah
    • Mormon United Orders/communitarianism
    • Zions Cooperative Mercantile Institution
    • Mormon-Gentile Relations in 19th Century Utah
    • Mormon-Federal Encounters & Exchange – The Utah War, Polygamy, Statehood
    • The Reed-Smoot Hearings – an encounter over Mormon polygamy
    • Colonel Thomas Kane
  • Railroad Communities and Cultures
    • Chinese workers and communities
    • Corinne – A Railroad Town in Mormon Utah
    • Legacy of the Golden Spike
    • Robert Brewster Stanton’s Railroad
  • Mining in Utah – Work, Trade, and Workers’ Rights
    • Carbon County – Cultural Crossroads
    • Bingham Canyon Mining Communities
    • Thomas Kearns
    • Labor unions in Utah – United Mine Workers, Western Federation of Miners, National Miner’s Union, United Steelworkers of America,
    • Joe Hill and the IWW
    • Utah Copper/Bingham Canyon Strike of 1912
    • Winter Quarters Mine Disaster
  • African-American communities
  • Jewish communities
    • Samuel & Frederick Auerbach, Utah retailers
    • Simon Bamberger, Utah Governor
    • Benjamin Brown
    • Clarion, a Jewish colony
  • Greek communities
    • Leonidas Skliris, padrone
    • Georgia Magerou, midwife
  • Italian communities
  • Scandinavian communities
  • Japanese communities
  • Pacific Islanders and the Iosepa Settlement
  • Latino immigrants & culture
  • War brides in Utah
  • 20th Century Refugee Communities
  • Intellectuals & the Arts
    • The Salt Lake Theater
    • Bernard DeVoto
    • Wallace Stegner

Depression and Wartime in Utah

  • Wartime industry & mobilization
  • German internees at Fort Douglas
  • Topaz Japanese Internment Camp
  • Marriner S. Eccles, architect of the New Deal
  • Col. Gail Halvorsen, the Candy Bomber
  • The Civilian Conservation Corps
  • Postwar reintegration

Civil Rights in Utah

  • Woman Suffrage and the Mormons
  • Kanab’s All-Woman Town Council of 1912 (UHQ)
  • ERA: The Equal Rights Amendment and Women’s Rights in Utah
  • Stephen Holbrook and Utah’s NAACP (UHRC)
  • Mormonism and African-Americans
  • Race Riots and BYU Athletics (UHQ)
  • Adoption of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday in Utah
  • SOCIO: Spanish Speaking Organization for Community, Integrity, and Opportunity & Armando Solorzano

Tourism

  • Berg Halstrom and River Rafting in Utah
  • Ski Utah!
  • International Peace Garden
  • Goblin Valley
  • The Lincoln Highway
  • Utah’s Highway 89
  • Utah’s National Parks
  • Dr. Arthur Leroy Inglesby (UHRC)
  • Everett Ruess – Canyon Country Explorer
  • David D. Rust (1874–1963) – Canyon Country Guide

Environmental History

  • Echo Park Dam Controversy
  • Glen Canyon Dam/Colorado River Storage Act (1956)
  • CUP: The Central Utah Project
  • Ranchers, Rangelands, and Grazing
  • Grand Staircase and the Federal Antiquities Act
  • Environmentalists and engineers in Cache Valley, 1965-1990s (UHQ)
  • Sagebrush Rebellion/Wise Use Movement 
  • The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) in Utah
  • Wilderness in Utah:  SUWA, roadless debates
  • Edward Abbey: activist/author, Desert Solitaire
  • Mormons and the MX Missile

KEY

UHQ = Utah Historical Quarterly

UHRCUtah State History Research Center – Search the combined resources of the Utah State Historical Society and Utah State Archives (http://heritage.utah.gov/history/research-center)

Tip:      Introductory information on many of these topics can be found in our online encyclopedia of Utah history – History To Go (http://historytogo.utah.gov)

Utah History Day Documentary Examples

Louis D. Brandeis: Standing for the People, by Jacob Simmons, Brighton High School. National Qualifier 2017.

Watergate: A Stand Against the Scandal, by Grayson Hardman and Justin Peng, Timberline Middle School. National Qualifier 2017.

Long Walk of the Navajo: The 1864 Encounter at Hwéeldi and its Impacts on Dinétah,
by Kami Atcitty, Kaia Jay, and Esperanza Lee, Albert R. Lyman Middle School. National Qualifier 2016.

St. Eustatius: The Exploration, Encounter, and Exchange that Won the Revolution, by Jacob Simmons, Albion Middle School. National Qualifier 2016.

¡Huelga! Delano’s Cry for Equality, by Nicholas Cockrell, David Skorut, and Harry Han, Hillcrest High School. 5th Place, Sr. Group Documentary, National History Day 2014,  and winner of the National Park Service Prize for Latino-American History.

Through Science to Justice: Magnus Hirschfeld and Germany’s LGBT Rights Movement, by Natasha Pagel-Aprill, West High School. 8th Place, Sr. Individual Documentary, National History Day 2015.

Downwinders: Falling Out with the Government over Fallout from the Skies, by Diana Baird, Lakeridge Jr. High. 12th Place, Jr. Individual Documentary, National History Day 2014. 

RFK: A Ripple of Hope, by Nicholas Cockrell, David Skorut, and Harry Han, Hillcrest High School. National Qualifier 2015.

Lucius D. Clay: The General Who Saved a City, by Miguel Rust, Lakeridge Junior High. National Qualifier 2015.

Irena Sendler: A Light in the Dark, by Kate Wilhelm, Thomas Edison Charter School North.

Clara Barton: Leader in Humanitarian Aid, by Leah O’Barr, Lakeridge Jr. High.

Amelia Earhart: An Inspiration in the Air, by Shannon Baker, Carbon High School.

Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, by Jenna Fellows, Kate Wilhelm, and Emilee Bennett, Thomas Edison Charter School North.

Watergate: A Stand Against the Scandal, by Grayson Hardman and Justin Peng, Timberline Middle School. Nationals 2017. 

St. Eustatius: The Exploration, Encounter, and Exchange that Won the Revolution, by Jacob Simmons, Albion Middle School, Nationals 2016

Long Walk of the Navajo: The 1864 Encounter at Hwéeldi and its Impacts on Dinétah,
by Kami Atcitty, Kaia Jay, and Esperanza Lee, Albert R. Lyman Middle School, Nationals 2016

¡Huelga! Delano’s Cry for Equality, by Nicholas Cockrell, David Skorut, and Harry Han, Hillcrest High School. 5th Place, Sr. Group Documentary, National History Day 2014,  and winner of the National Park Service Prize for Latino-American History

Through Science to Justice: Magnus Hirschfeld and Germany’s LGBT Rights Movement, by Natasha Pagel-Aprill, West High School. 8th Place, Sr. Individual Documentary, National History Day 2015

Downwinders: Falling Out with the Government over Fallout from the Skies, by Diana Baird, Lakeridge Jr. High. 12th Place, Jr. Individual Documentary, National History Day 2014 

RFK: A Ripple of Hope, by Nicholas Cockrell, David Skorut, and Harry Han, Hillcrest High School, 2015

Lucius D. Clay: The General Who Saved a City, by Miguel Rust, Lakeridge Jr. High. Nationals 2015

Irena Sendler: A Light in the Dark, by Kate Wilhelm, Thomas Edison Charter School North

Clara Barton: Leader in Humanitarian Aid, by Leah O’Barr, Lakeridge Jr. High

Amelia Earhart: An Inspiration in the Air, by Shannon Baker, Carbon High School

Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, by Jenna Fellows, Kate Wilhelm, and Emilee Bennett, Thomas Edison Charter School North