I’m back with more books that may be perfect for the reader on your Christmas list.  In a year when traveling was less of an option a little armchair jaunt may be more welcome than ever!

    For the HISTORY LOVER on your list:

    12.18 Leadership in Turbulent TimesLEADERSHIP IN TURBULENT TIMES
    By Doris Kearns Goodwin

    Pulling from her decades of research, Goodwin presents an exploration of leadership and how it develops.  She does this by pulling from the lives of four presidents – Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Lyndon B. Johnson.  Leadership has been a dominant topic over the past year and a review of leaders from our past may be a welcome exercise.


    12.18 Agent SonyaAGENT SONYA
    By Ben Macintyre

    Who doesn’t love a good spy story?  While Macintyre usually focuses on British spies of World War II, here he tells the story of Ursula Burton, aka Agent Sonya, a high-ranking Soviet intelligence officer who helped plunge the world into a decades-long Cold War.  A wonderful page-turning history.


    For the SCIENTIST on your list:

    12.18 Humble PiHUMBLE PI
    By Matt Parker

    This book makes a brilliant gift because if the recipient is a math nerd, they will enjoy hearing and understanding these stories of mathematical mayhem.  And if they are not a math nerd, they will find comfort in knowing they are not alone and everyone makes mistakes.  I am not a math nerd and I loved the funny stories and the delightful voice of the author as he explores a topic he obviously loves.


    12.18 Hidden Valley RoadHIDDEN VALLEY ROAD
    By Robert Kolker

    This is technically a book about the Galvins and their 12 children.  But the Galvins’ story illuminates much deeper themes and social issues. Half of the children born to Don and Mimi would eventually be diagnosed as schizophrenic. Their journeys tell of the frightening world of institutionalization and lobotomies and shed light on the genetics and nature of schizophrenia itself. A fascinating scientific family biography.


    For the INSPIRATION SEEKER on your list:

    12.18 When Life Gives You PearsWHEN LIFE GIVES YOU PEARS
    By Jeannie Gaffigan

    This past year has left many of us looking for a little peace and healing and you may be able to gift a little bit of that with this heartfelt memoir.  Subtitled ‘The Healing Power of Family, Faith, and Funny People” this book tells of just that.  Jeannie survived a pear-sized brain tumor and lived to tell the tale.  She is honest, encouraging and filled with timely wisdom.


    12.18 Hold On But Dont Hold StillHOLD ON, BUT DON’T HOLD STILL
    By Kristina Kuzmic

    Kuzmic shares “Hope and Humor from My Seriously Flawed Life” in this funny and hope-filled memoir.  Sometimes we need someone to remind us that no one is perfect, most of us doubt our abilities to adult, and we need to be way less hard on ourselves.  Kuzmic’s message may be just what is needed as we start a new year.


    For the DEEP THINKER on your list: 

    12.18 CasteCASTE
    By Isabel Wilkerson

    Wilkerson’s recent book argues that there is a powerful caste system in the United States and that this system shapes national behavior toward race and class differences.  Her exploration takes readers back to the founding of our nation and on through to the present day.  This would be a wonderful gift for someone wanting to delve deeper into some of the social issues that filled the news throughout 2020.


    12.18 The Hilarious World of DepressionTHE HILARIOUS WORLD OF DEPRESSION
    By John Moe

    Based on a podcast of the same name, this book discusses what it is like to suffer from depression.  Moe tells of his own mental illness and shares stories of friends and guests who have also struggled in a society that is often reluctant to understand them.  Both funny and sincere, THE HILARIOUS WORLD OF DEPRESSION is a look inside a fight that is very real, very common, and very inspiring.


    For the CELEBRITY STALKER on your list:

    12.18 The Answer IsTHE ANSWER IS…
    By Alex Trebek

    Published just before his recent death, THE ANSWER IS… was written by Trebek in part to thank his many fans for their support throughout his career and especially during his fatal battle with cancer.  He shares some great stories as he travels through his career along with a lot of wisdom and insight.  If your list contains any fans of Jeopardy and the late, great, Alex Trebek, this would be a wonderful gift to wrap up.


    12.18 No Time Like the FutureNO TIME LIKE THE FUTURE
    By Michael J. Fox

    This memoir focuses mainly on the last decade of the actor’s life and it is honest and sad and joyful all at the same time.  He discusses illness and aging and the great power that supportive friends and family have to lift us when things get hard.

  •  Juneteenth

    Happy Juneteenth! 155 years ago today, Union soldiers reached Galveston, Texas, with the news that the Civil War and legal slavery in America were over. Though Lincoln had delivered the Emancipation Proclamation more than two years earlier, enslaved people throughout the south remained had remained unaware of that fact, since slaveholders weren’t eager to spread the word.

    Since 1980, Juneteenth has been celebrated as a Texas state holiday thanks to the efforts of State Legislator Al Edwards, who has also campaigned for national observance of the holiday. In recent years, Juneteenth has been increasingly observed across the country, and popular momentum has built urging Congress to name it a national holiday.

    It’s a complicated day to celebrate, since many white southerners continued to keep Black people cut off from the news and in bondage long after Juneteenth, but then no perfect, unequivocally successful day of emancipation ever really happened for Black Americans. The history of fighting for civil rights in America is long, complicated, often ugly, and filled with setbacks as well as triumphs.

    It’s also a history that’s far from over.

    For that reason, this Juneteenth, I’d encourage us all to learn a more complete and painful history of the United States than we may have been taught growing up. In many American history classes, we tend to focus on the highlight reel – the Emancipation Proclamation, the passage of the 13th amendment, Martin Luther King’s march on Washington, the civil rights legislation of the 1950s and 1960s. Though those were triumphant moments of real progress, if we focus on only them, we lose sight of the ways that Anti-Black racism is excused, ignored, reshaped, hidden, and thus allowed to flourish in individual's hearts and even in modern laws, policies, and institutions.

    With that in mind, here are a few books that are helping me to fill in some gaps in my own understanding of American history:

    By Ibram X. Kendi

    If you only make time for one book from this list, start with this one. As the subtitle, "The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America," suggests, historian Ibram X. Kendi does a masterful job of tracing anti-Black thought in American history, beginning with the words of Puritan thinkers and working all the way through to modern life. There is also a young adult version if you’d like to help the teens in your life understand racism and antiracism in ways that are accessible to them.


    6.19 Stony the RoadSTONY THE ROAD
    By Henry Louis Gates Jr.

    In Stony the Road, Henry Louis Gates, a historian you might know from PBS’s Finding Your Roots, fills in the gaps most of us have in our knowledge of history on the century of racist and antiracist thought and activism in the century between emancipation in the 1960s and the civil rights movement of the 1960s.


    6.19 Why We Cant WaitWHY WE CAN’T WAIT
    By Martin Luther King Jr.

    You can't go wrong with a primary source, so it's worth it to learn who Martin Luther King Jr. was through his own words. Following the publication of Letter From a Birmingham Jail (also included in this collection) and national attention for the Birmingham campaign, America’s most famous, but often misrepresented civil rights activist wrote this book to clarify the history, beliefs, and nonviolent resistance methods behind the movement.


    6.19 The New Jim CrowTHE NEW JIM CROW
    By Michelle Alexander

    Civil rights lawyer and legal scholar Michelle Alexander traces the rise and effects of mass incarceration of Black men over the past 50 years and examines the racially charged reasoning of the Republican and Democratic politicians alike who enacted the War on Drugs and the War on Crime. While this book traces the broader history, for a more personal account filled with individual stories, read Bryan Stevenson’s beautiful book JUST MERCY or watch the recent film adaptation, which is also excellent (there's a big of a wait for a library copy, but it's also currently free to rent on multiple streaming platforms).


    6.19 White RageWHITE RAGE
    By Carol Anderson

    The status of Black people in America is not just a Black person’s problem, and the responsibility to fix it should not be placed on Black shoulders. In this work, historian Carol Anderson discuss the backlash, legal and social, from angry white Americans that has followed every major civil rights gain, and the way that anger has shaped policy and institutions that still exist today.


    A celebration of Juneteenth shouldn’t end with understanding history, however. If you’re interested in learning about how to be an anti-racist today, this list of books has helped me understand and may help you too. There are also countless other books to help us understand Black American experiences. We can read modern classic novels by Toni Morrison, Colson Whitehead, Alice Walker, Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, Maya Angelou, and more. We can read memoirs by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Roxane Gay, Michelle Obama, Jacqueline Woodson, and others.

    And don't forget to include books in your favorite genre from a Black perspective. Like romance? Try a book by Jasmine Guillory or Talia Hibbert. Love YA fantasy with a bit of romance mixed in? Don’t miss Tomi Adeyemi’s books, which have been massive hits, and check out Roseanne A. Brown and Dhonielle Clayton’s books too. Do you devour sci-fi and epic fantasy? You’ve got to give Octavia E. Butler and N.K. Jemison a try. Love a funny memoir? Pick up The Last Black Unicorn or We Are Never Meeting in Real Life.

    In the past few weeks, we’ve had more requests than ever before for books by Black authors about Black American lives, and we’ll keep doing what we can to help provide the resources you’re looking for. If there’s anything you see missing in our collection, please fill out a purchase suggestion form, and we’ll do our best to add it.

  • BW FB

    Working up in The Attic, I have the chance to see a lot of different art exhibits come through. This month, our art gallery has been lucky to house a collection of photographs depicting African Americans during the early part of the 1900’s. These images are part of a movement known as the Harlem Renaissance and I thought I’d take a bit of time here to talk about this art movement and the collection itself. 

    The Harlem Renaissance was an explosion in African American art, photography, writing, film, theatre and music. This movement lasted from about 1918 to 1937. Though artists would appear from many different midwestern and northern states, Harlem became the center of the movement. This borough of NYC is located on Manhattan Island. Since before the Revolutionary War, it was a safe haven for runaway slaves and a strong center for abolition and African American rights. In fact, Alexander Hamilton lived and worked in Harlem, practicing law. When he was elected a representative of New York, he would go on to write the state’s first petition to ban slavery. 

    During the early 1900’s, many black southerners chose to leave the South and move into northern and midwestern cities. Known as the “Great Migration”, Harlem and other urban areas provided also provided many economic opportunities. This allowed black citizens better access to education as well as economic stability. As a result, black artists had the time, money and means to create artwork that would be seen by the rest of the world. 

    John Johnson was an amatuer photographer living in Lincoln, Nebraska. He was born the son of an escaped slave and a Civil War veteran. Though Johnson never had a professional career, he was able to take pictures of his fellow neighbors, coworkers and family. Not only was he able to create beautiful images and experimented in this early art form, but his photos also document the changes that were happening in black communities during the Harlem Renaissance.

    For one last chance to see Johnson’s photo exhibit before it closes, visit the Attic, located on the 4th floor of the Provo Library today between 4:00 and 9:00 pm.

  • New York 

    The Christmas season in New York City begins with the big Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Santa stopping in front of the Macy’s department store is the kick off to the Christmas season in the Big Apple. There are many things to do and see in New York City during the Christmas season like ice skating in Central Park and viewing window displays along 5th Avenue. I spent a week in New York City a few years ago and I would love to go back at Christmas and enjoy some of these famous New York Christmas traditions. If you have plans to visit New York in the future here is a list of books to read that will help you get prepared for your next visit. 

    12.23 New York CityNEW YORK CITY 
    By Regis St. Louis

    A comprehensive travel guide to New York City, with maps and information on hotels, restaurants, shopping, and other interesting sites. 


    12.23 New York the NovelNEW YORK: THE NOVEL
    By Edward Rutherfurd

    The intertwining fates of characters rich and poor, black and white, native born and immigrant, brings to life the momentous events that shaped New York city and America. This book tells the history of NYC from 1664 to 2009 through generations of families and their participation in real historical events. 


    12.23 Writings from the New YorkerWRITINGS FROM THE NEW YORKER
    By E.B. White

    Here are over 100 wise, witty, short pieces and essays by E.B.White written for the New Yorker over a span of forty-nine years. White loves New York and he happily conjures his version in all its imperfection in this collection as he comments about not only NYC but also the world with humor, compassion, and honesty.  


    12.23 Breakfast at TiffanysBREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S AND THREE STORIES 
    By Truman Capote

    It’s New York in the 1940’s where a woman named Holly Golightly knows that nothing bad can ever happen to you at Tiffany’s. The fabulous city is captured through the point of view of a young society girl who spends her early mornings at Tiffany & Co. on Fifth Avenue. 


    By Richard Panchyk

    A 400-year history of New York City’s culture, politics, and geography. A time line of significant events, a list of historic sites to visit or explore online, and web resources for further study as well as 21 hands-on activities to better understand the Big Apple.    

  • Autumn Forest

    Salem is an extremely popular destination during the month of October. There are more than 500 different events during the month to celebrate Halloween. The city aims to educate visitors about its mysterious past, especially the famous Salem Witch Trials. I traveled to Salem in May of 2016 but I would love to go back and visit during the month of October. Here are some interesting books about Salem that you can start reading in anticipation of your next trip.

    By J.W. Ocker

    Welcome to Witch city! Learn about the historical sites and attractions in Salem as well as experience the thrills of Halloween as seen through the eyes of a curious and adventurous outsider. Author J.W. Ocker spends a month with his family in the city of Salem in order to experience firsthand the season with the witch. 


    10.19 The WitchesTHE WITCHES: SALEM, 1692
    By Stacy Schiff

    Along with suffrage and prohibition, the Salem Witch Trials represent one of the few moments when women played a central role in American history. An introduction to the strains on a puritan adolescent’s life, the demands of a rigorous faith, and the vulnerability of settlements adrift from the mother country. A look into the world of 17th century America. 


    By Rosalyn Schanzer

    The riveting story of the victims, accused witches, crooked officials, and mass hysteria that turned a mysterious illness affecting two children, into a witch hunt that took over a dozen people’s lives and ruined hundreds more.


    10.19 What Were the Salem Witch TrialsWHAT WERE THE SALEM WITCH TRIALS? 
    By Joan Holub

    Something wicked was brewing in the small town of Salem in 1692.  Over the next year and a half, nineteen people were convicted of witchcraft and hanged while more languished in prison as hysteria swept the colony. An inside look at this sinister chapter in history. 


    10.19 The Salem Witch TrialsTHE SALEM WITCH TRIALS
    By Robin Johnson

    Discusses the 1692 Salem, Massachusetts, witch trials. Emphasizing how innocent people were jailed on the evidence of dreams and visions and how the legal system allowed nineteen people to be hanged before the governor of the state brought the people of Salem to their senses.

  •  microhistory

    Despite being a lifetime book lover and professional librarian, I just recently discovered my favorite book genre, microhistories.

    Microhistories give the reader what I call an “ant’s-eye view,” or in other words, a view of something from the ground up. I love to dive deep into one specific topic and explore every nook and cranny history has to offer.

    It’s so refreshing to learn about a topic with a more focused perspective. Luckily for me the Provo Library offers plenty of options when it comes to microhistories. If you need a place to start, the library has you covered. Listed below are some of my favorite microhistory reads.

    By Mark Kurlansky

    In my eyes, Mark Kurlansky is the king of microhistory. If you’re new to the microhistory genre, you can’t go wrong with any books by Mark Kurlanksy, but I highly recommend starting with this book. Kurlansky gives the readers a history lesson on The Big Apple (New York) when it was the Big Oyster, and how this salt-water bivalve influenced its economy, culture, and food scene.


    1.24 The Disappearing SpoonTHE DISAPPEARING SPOON
    By Sam Kean

    Imagine chemistry class spun into a series of delightful short stories and you’ve got a fun, new way to learn about the periodic table. You’ll walk away from this read feeling like a genius and wondering why it took you so long to find chemistry funny.


    1.24 StiffSTIFF
    By Mary Roach

    Talk about digging deep! This book explores the many uses of human cadavers. What role do cadavers play in space exploration? You’ll have to read the book to find out. WARNING: If you’re squeamish, you may have a hard time getting through this one (but please try, I promise its worth it!).


    1.24 Just My TypeJUST MY TYPE
    By Simon Garfield

    Where do fonts come from? This book answers that question along with many other questions you might not even know you had about fonts. You’ll learn about the typographers behind the typefaces and find yourself thinking twice about the font you choose for your next school assignment (that is, if your teacher hasn’t assigned Times New Roman 12 pt.).


    1.24 BananaBANANA
    By Dan Koeppel

    There’s so much more to the banana than meets the eye. Split ways with any preconceived notions of your favorite yellow fruit and learn about origin of the banana. The combination of science, history, and politics makes for an informative and entertaining read. Quite appealing, right?

  •  Train Tracks

    On May 10th, 1869 the transcontinental railway was completed, and the meeting point of the East and West going railways was right here in Utah. This year marks the 150th anniversary of this historic event and there are several celebrations planned throughout the state. You can find more information about events and celebrations at Spike150.org, or plan a visit to the Golden Spike National Historic Park and see where it happened.

    In honor of this anniversary, visit the library to peruse unique books from our Special Collections area about Golden Spike and the history of trains and railroads in Utah.

    By Robert M. Utley

    Part of the “Historical Handbook Series” published by the National Parks Service and U.S. Department of Interior, this small book packs a lot of history into its 60-ish pages. It details how the Promontory site was chosen and the record breaking 10 miles of track laid in a day the push to complete the railroad was happening.  


    By  Gilbert H. Bennett

    This unique book is a collection of paintings by artist Gilbert H. Bennett. It takes the reader on a historical journey through railroading history in Utah, beginning at the Golden Spike. The beautiful full color prints of the oil and watercolor paintings are beautiful and add a great visual to a fascinating history.


    By Gerald M. Best

    Chock full of illustrations, some historic photographs, and scans of newspaper clippings, this book is perfect for the history buff with a propensity towards the visual. The high quality photos are pretty remarkable, and make the already interesting piece of history more robust and accessible.


    By Blair Kooistra

    Another photographic collection, this book goes beyond the Golden Spike and delves into more modern railroading developments and uses. It includes breathtaking full color photos of more recent trains and rail lines, including Kennecott’s specially designed train cars and the Rio Grande’s Carbon County coal train. This is a must read for any true railfan.   


    5.10 Golden SpikeTHE GOLDEN SPIKE 
    Edited by David E. Miller

    The Western History Center at the University of Utah compiled this book of well researched historical articles from colleges and organizations around the state. They published it in conjunction with the centennial or 100 year anniversary of the Golden Spike.


    If you’d like to know more about the Transcontinental Railroad and this fascinating time in our nation’s history, there are some very thorough and well researched books about this topic available on our e-book and audiobook service, Libby. Here are a few that come highly recommended:




  • Provo History

    Did you know that Utah has been home to more than 100 movies? Or that Butch Cassidy was born here in Utah? There is lots of Utah history that is often forgotten or unknown. Here are just a few of our books in Special Collections that are about some little known or hidden history of Utah.  

    By Larry R. Gerlach

    During the 1920s Utah experienced a brief, but important, period of Klanscraft, as well as several later revivals. The KKK was seen as both a national patriotic fraternity and a local vigilance committee. When discussing the nature of the KKK in Utah, the author stated, “The Ku Klux Klan exists in Utah today because such manifestations of prejudice fall within the normal range of acceptable behavior and values for too many Utahns. So long as people persist in making arbitrary judgments based solely on color, creed or ethnicity, the Klan or similar organizations will continue to find a niche in society.” 


    By Honey M. Newton

    Early pioneer midwives and women doctors made a lasting impact on the West by providing compassionate care from the cradle to the grave. But accounts of these supreme examples of service are rarely told. During the late 19th century, a larger proportion of female physicians were in Utah than anywhere else in the world, except possibly Russia, and Utah’s first hospital and Department of Health were organized and run by female midwives and physicians. Learn about 28 amazing women and the trials they faced and service they provided.  


    By Sandra C. Taylor

    Following Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor the U.S. government in the spring of 1942 forced about 110,000 Japanese American from their homes along West Coast. About 7,000 of these people, the majority of whom were American citizens, were moved to an internment camp in Topaz, Utah. Using the interviews of 50 former Topaz residents, newspaper reports, and the archives of the War Relocation Authority, the author shows how relocation shaped the lives of these Japanese Americans and Utah. 


    By James V. D’Arc

    Get the inside scoop on low budget movies to some of the most memorable films ever made in this history of moviemaking in Utah. Utah has played host to Kevin Bacon in FOOTLOOSE, Robert Redford in BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID, and INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE. Learn about these and other films that showcase Utah’s beautiful scenery in this book of Utah filmmaking. What is your favorite story from Utah history? Share in the comments, and be sure to check out these and other great books in our Special Collections.  Source for photo: (https://uvu.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/ProvoLib/id/33)

  • Downton Abbey

    Hello, fellow Downton Abbey fans! If you’re anything like me, you’re awaiting the Downton Abbey movie with a mixture of hope and trepedation. I’m excited to return to my favorite period drama and become reaquainted with beloved characters, both above and below stairs.

    At the same time, I’m worried. They’d wrapped up the final season so happily for everyone, hadn’t they? A sucker for a happy ending, I was pleased with where characters ended up in the final season, and I’m just not sure I can take it if Anna and Bates are subjected to new trauma. JUST LET THOSE POOR PEOPLE LIVE IN PEACE, Julian Fellowes!

    Nevertheless, I’ll be there on opening night.

    In the meantime, here are a few library materials to get you back into that Downton frame of mind. 

    By Fiona, Countess of Carnarvon

    Downton Abbey, is, alas, a fictional place, but the entirety of the series was filmed at Highclere Castle, a country house in Hampshire England with history going back to the 9th century (though the current building was build primarily in the 1600s and 1700s). This book, written by the current Countess of Carnarvon who lives in the castle today, tells the story of one of Highclere’s most famous residents, Lady Almina, the 5th Countess of Carnarvon.


    By Margaret Powell

    If you were always more interested in the exploits of Daisy and Mrs. Patmore than in the goings-on of the Crawleys, this is the book for you. Margaret Powell, who lived from 1908 to 1984, became a bestselling writer with this memoir about her experiences as a maid and later a cook in aristocratic houses in the 1920s and 1930s. As the title suggests, her book was eventually a source of inspiration for Downton Abbey.


    By John Lunn

    It doesn’t take much to conjure up the notes of Downton Abbey’s opening theme in my mind. This CD collection brings together favorite musical pieces from throughout the show’s run. And if you’re a pianist, why not check out the sheet music too?


    By Larry Edwards

    If you’re feeling especially motivated, you can try your hand at one of the delicious recipes in this historically-inspired cookbook. It blessedly stays away from away from aspics (a.k.a meat jello) and the like, instead favoring classics like pork tenderloin with sweetened cinnamon apples and any number of tea sandwiches and biscuits. 


    9.13 Downton Abbey A CelebrationDOWNTON ABBEY: A CELEBRATION
    By Jessica Fellowes

    Written by Jessica Fellowes, niece of show creator Julian Fellowes, this book goes behind the scenes on the Downton set, with gorgeous location shots of Highclere Castle and stills from all six seasons of the classic period drama. It's a perfect refresher course if you’re feeling a little foggy on the timeline of the series. 

  • Mount Timp

    As a fan of both folklore and Utah history, I’ve always loved the Legend of Timpanogos.  Last summer, I was excited to revisit the story as I prepared the text of the Story Trail we placed at Kiwanis Park. In my research, I discovered that there are actually multiple versions of the Legend of Timpanogos. 

    The legend that’s probably the best known was written by Eugene L. Roberts around 1912.  This is the story of star-crossed lovers Utahna and Red Eagle, whose hearts fuse together when they die, forming the Heart of Timpanogos, the famous heart-shaped stalactite in the middle of Timpanogos Cave.

    Another popular version recorded by Calvin Walker focuses on star-crossed lovers Timpanac and Ucanogos, who are turned into both a lake and a mountain, so they can lie side-by-side forever.  The lake and mountain together are called Timpanogos in a blending of their names.

    I also ran into the story of Norita by M.M. Warner, which is somewhat similar to the stories of Timpanogos.  Norita is the daughter of a Uintah chief.  When the neighboring Paiute tribe attacks, they chase Norita to the top of Bridal Veil Falls, where she jumps to her death.  Alas, Norita doesn’t have a steady love like Timpanac or Red Eagle to mark her death with their own act of undying love.

    We have three different books at the library that tell these stories:

    By Effie W. Adams

    This slim volume contains eight different versions of the Legend of Timpanogos.  Some are serious, some are humorous, and some are even written as poems.

    By Richard C. Peacock

    This book only shares one version of the Legend of Timpanogos, but it’s filled with beautiful illustrations of mountain scenery throughout.


    By Various Authors

    This booklet is a compilation of poetry, natural history, essays, and yes, legends about Mount Timpanogos. The story of Norita is published here as well.


    By M.M. Warner

    The story of Norita is actually a three-page poem that was published in the Relief Society Magazine in 1920.  The Provo Library has a little booklet made of just the pages of the magazine that had that poem on it.

  • Utah History

    Here in Utah, Pioneer day is July 24th, so I thought this might be a good time to mention some pioneer stories you could read with your family. Children are naturally curious about pioneers and the lives they lived. They often wonder what children in the past did for fun, what kind of food they ate, what kind of chores they did, and what their families were like.

    One of the best ways to answer those questions and more is by reading historical fiction stories together. If your child is especially interested in pioneer girl stories, here are a few of the best.

    7.23 Hattie Big SkyHATTIE BIG SKY
    By Kirby Larson

    It’s 1917 and 16-year-old Hattie Brooks has just inherited her uncle’s homesteading claim in Montana. Hattie, an orphan, decides she must make a home for herself and travels from Iowa to Montana to become Hattie Homesteader. Once there, she finds out that in order to keep the place, she must prove the claim with enough fencing and farming to satisfy government specifications. This is a great story with an amazing and determined character who will steal your heart.


    7.23 The Evolution of Calpurnia TateTHE EVOLUTION OF CALPURNIA TATE
    By Jacqueline Kelly

    Callie Vee Tate wants to be a naturalist and study science, but girls in 1899 didn’t become scientists. With the help of her grandfather she figures out why the yellow grasshoppers in her backyard are so much bigger than the green ones and she imagines a future much grander than a life spent in the kitchen making meals for her husband.


    7.23 The Ballad of Lucy WhippleTHE BALLAD OF LUCY WHIPPLE
    By Karen Cushman

    California doesn’t suit Lucy Whipple. She enjoys the comforts of her home in Massachusetts but moving out West was her mama’s dream and she finds herself, with her family, in California during the American Gold Rush. Lucy is suddenly thrown into back-breaking work, and worst of all, days with no books. But slowly Lucy begins to understand that home isn’t just where you live, it’s being around the things you love and the people you love.


    7.23 May BMAY B
    By Caroline Starr Rose

    Written in verse, this is a beautiful story about a strong new heroine who is determined to find her way home again. May is helping out on a neighbor’s homestead in Kansas until Christmas. But when the couple she is staying with disappears, May finds herself all alone in a blizzard. She must somehow find a way to make the fifteen-mile journey back home.


    7.23 Our Only May AmeliaOUR ONLY MAY AMELIA
    By: Jennifer Holm

    Inspired by the diaries of her great-aunt, the real May Amelia, Jennifer Holm gives us a beautifulll crafted tale of one young girl whose unique spirit captures the courage, humor, passion and depth of the American pioneer experience. May Amelia will touch your heart.


    7.23 Caddie WoodlawnCADDIE WOODLAWN
    By Carol Ryrie Brink

    This is a story about a young girl who has to make her own place in the world. Caddie is living on the open plains of 1860 Wisconsin with her family. She isn’t your ordinary girl who likes to spend time sewing and baking like her sisters. Caddie is a bit of a tomboy and would rather hunt, swim or visit the Native Americans. This is a look into her life as a young pioneer girl.

  • oremhebercrash1918oct4

    Found in: Cannon, Kenneth L., II. (1987) PROVO & OREM: A VERY ELLIGIBLE PLACE: AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY. Windsor Publications. 

    If you search "train wrecks 1918” online, you'll discover that 1918 was a terrible time to be on a train in the US. But did you know that Provo also had a train wreck that year? It's not easily discoverable on the web, but with a little investigation you can find the whole story (and some more besides) by taking a dive into our special collections. 

    In 1918, the OREM INTERURBAN was the train line that ran between Salt Lake City and Payson, running through Center Street Provo. There was also another train line that passed through Provo, known as the HEBER CREEPER (and a part of that train line still runs today).

    ETHEL TREGEAGLE recounts her memory of a crash in our oral histories, which happened right outside her house--"The Heber train always went by. I don't know what year it was but the Orem train that went across Center Street to go to Salt Lake wrecked... I was five years old. That was about 1917 or 1918. The war was on then."

    Our oral histories also include another eye-witness to the crash. KARL MILLER recounts the events of the wreck and how it came about, where he narrates his take on why the crash happened and lets us know a few other details. He includes the name of one of the engineers and narrows down the date--a "conference weekend" in 1918. What was especially interesting was that both Ethel and Karl mention a photo of the crash, so I decided to try and hunt that down, too.

    Luckily, we have a fantastic INDEX OF HISTORICAL PHOTOGRAPHS that list the photographs we have in our special collections, so I was able to search that and find the famous photo of the Orem and Heber Creeper crash, which occurred on October 4th, 1918. 

    There are more articles about the OREM INTERURBAN, the famous crash, and how the people of Provo lived back in the day with railroads on Center Street in TALES OF UTAH VALLEY VOLUME I. According to the book, Ethel Tregeagle herself can be found in this photograph behind the man in the upper right-hand side of the photo as one of the young girls looking at the wreckage. Can you spot her?

    What will you find out by exploring our special collections?

  • Spooky House and Man in Fog

    BOO! It’s that time of year, my favorite time of year, with cooler weather, pumpkins, hot chocolate, and of course ghosts and ghouls. As human beings, many of us have a weird fascination with the strange and macabre. We tell stories around the campfire, go on haunted tours or visit haunted houses, and watch movies that scare us to the point that sleep is just not an option.

    There are of course many things in the paranormal and horror realm that can capture our attention. There are skeletons, witches, vampires, serial killers, and monsters such as Big Foot or the Wendigo. The most popular of the paranormal that we often dive deep and become detectives is that of ghostly visitations. There are countless people through the ages that have experienced their own ghostly visitor - maybe you have your own experience - and have shared the creeks, the chills, and the apparitions in various stories. Some places even become landmarks as must-see attractions when visiting a city.

    The most interesting part of telling or reading ghost stories is being invested in a person’s life when you otherwise have no connection. It’s genealogy with a spooky twist. With many stories we not only learn about the dead’s active spiritual life but we dive deep into their mortal lives as well. We learn about where they were from, what they were like in life from family or friends, read journals and notes, learn about loss and illness they went through, and look at old photographs as we paint a picture in our heads of who these people were and why they are not resting in the afterlife. If this is something that interests you and you are wanting to get into the Halloween spirit then do we have you covered. To get started, check out these books that have some fascinating and spooky tales. They range from ghostly love affairs to performers who can’t let go of the spotlight. Get caught up in the ghosts of our past.          

    10.5 Haunted Universal StudiosHAUNTED UNIVERSAL STUDIOS
    By Brian Clune

    Talented entrepreneur Carl Laemmle led and won the fight against Thomas Edison's filming monopoly and built Universal City out of the dirt of Hollywood. He created a place of wonder and imagination, and now, decades later, Universal Studios is filled with rumors of ghosts.


    10.5 Haunted Salt Lake CityHAUNTED SALT LAKE CITY
    By Laurie Allen

    Uncovering ghost stories in Salt Lake City leads to a spooky mixture of legend, lore, and local history. The guides of Story Tours' Salt Lake City Ghost Tour reveal characters who just can't seem to leave the valley.


    By Chris Gonsalves

    Romance is undeniably otherworldly. Heart racing, breath quickening, senses ablaze -it’s all apart of what makes love so frighteningly grand. As the French writer Francois de La Rochefoucauld said four centuries ago, “it is with true love as it is with ghosts; everyone talks about it, but few have seen it.” And yet, there are those who have seen both. Welcome to HAUNTED LOVE. 


    By Tom Ogden

    Thirty-five gripping tales of ghostly goings-on and other worldly encounters in theaters across North America and London. The hard part isn't finding theaters that are haunted-it's finding theaters that aren't!


    By Sarah Bartlett

    Packed with rich illustrations, National Geographic's first-ever guide to the world's supernatural places showcases more than 250 spooky destinations around the globe, revealing a dazzling array of haunted castles, forbidden hideaways and otherwise eerie landmarks.

  •  Utah History

    Here at the library, our Special Collections contains many things: old city records and Provo High year books, old maps and historical artifacts, and biographies and compiled records detailing Provo and Utah’s history. Now if we take a look back into history, back when Utah was only a territory or had barely become a state, it was a very different kind of place. Utah was a dangerous place, and the men who tried to profit on that danger would go on to make the roads and train rails, places of relatively safety, some of the most dangerous places in the West. Here is a list of four books that outline some of the Special Collections more adventurous books. 

    By Murray E. King

    This book follows the life of Matt Warner, an Old West bandit that often ran in the crew of Butch Cassidy, and Tom & Bill McCarty. After being caught in 1900, he turned away from the bandit life and became a law-abiding citizen. But his bandit days would give him the experience to become the lawman for Carbon County, serving as sheriff, justice of the peace, detective, and night policeman during his life time. 

    To illustrate the type of man Matt Warner was, here’s a story. When he was 91 and working as a night policeman, he shot a gun right out of the hand of a criminal he was arresting. The criminal would later say that Warner’s gun had apparently appeared out of thin air. Warner, at 91, was just that fast. 


    By Carole Marsh

    This book is a collection of short stories, things you’d hear around the dinner table or around a campfire, that catalogs and records a number of experiences from people like Butch Cassidy. In the introduction to the book, the author wrote that “history is what really happened, not just what got recorded in the history books.” So this small collection was Marsh’s way of supplementing and calling out the bias of traditional textbooks. 


    By Charles Kelly

    Charles Kelly collected stories from “old timers who personally knew the outlaws” and other sources in an attempt to put together the most accurate history of Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch. Kelly covers all of the Wild Bunch’s early years of bank robberies, the gang’s use of a hole in the side of canyon, and some of Cassidy’s copycats like Gunplay Max who was arrested after robbing a bank in Provo, failing miserably to copy Cassidy and the Wild Bunch’s success. 


    These are just three, among others, of the books in our Special Collections that detail the Wild West roots of Utah. Come into the library and ask the reference desk about our Special Collections to find more historical records, artifacts, and books about the history of the Provo area. 


  •  Utah Archaeology 

    Often times when I tell people that I participated in an archaeological excavation of Fremont pit houses right here in Provo, they respond with, “What? I didn’t know that Provo had archaeology!” Not only does Provo have archaeology, but much of Utah is full of interesting reminders of the people that were here before us. Our Special Collections room focuses on Provo and Utah history, so it is a great place to find some books on Utah archaeology.

    By Joel C. Janetski

    This book is close to my heart since I know some of the people involved in its making. This is the most “archaeological” of the books on this list, meaning that it is a collection of published academic papers on hunter-gatherer sites around Utah Valley. Excavations are at the heart of archaeological research, and these reports include artifacts found, maps of stratigraphy (those layers in the dirt that tell archaeologists a lot), and cool photos and illustrations of artifacts and site maps. There are tables, graphs, and charts, info on burials, and illustrations of stone points and pot sherds found (yes, it’s sherds not shards, but that’s a conversation for another time). It’s neat to browse through site reports like this, but you should always read the summary and conclusions section to get a good overview of what was found at the site during excavation. Just writing about this makes me long for my university days, excavating and writing up reports just like this. Excuse me while I get lost in nostalgia.  



    Maybe you’ve heard of Nine Mile Canyon? If you haven’t, it’s time for a road trip! The name is a little misleading, as the canyon is actually much longer than nine miles, but its fame is legendary. This area is famous for tons of Fremont rock art in the form of structures and petroglyphs. This is very accessible with not a lot of jargon, and it gives a great little history of the Fremont, what we know of that culture, and then a little about the canyon and surrounding lands. My favorite part of this book? The last half is a guide of the different rock art features throughout the canyon. There are maps, color photos, illustrations, and interpretations of the rock art you’ll see. Ready to drive down to the canyon yet? 


    By Steven R. Simms

    Yes, another Fremont book. But Fremont archaeology is Utah archaeology (and the archaeology I’m most familiar with, so there’s that too). This book is a great coffee table book—it’s big, full of gorgeous color photos, and gives just enough info to be informative without going in too deep. And you get to see the really interesting and rare finds, and not just pottery pieces and arrowheads (apologies to those people that spend their lives studying those things. Your work is important).  


    This is just a sampling of the great info you can get on Utah archaeology and history in our stacks. Ask a librarian about finding these books in Special Collections or on the regular shelves!