Utah

  •  Utah History

    The state of Utah has a fascinating history as the crossroads of many types of people, ideas, and cultures as the nation expanded westward. I recently attended a conference of Utah history enthusiasts, nerds, and researchers sponsored by the Utah Division of State History which discussed this aspect of our past and how it influenced the culture of Utah today. At the conference, they gave out a list of top Utah history book recommendations, selected by Utah history archivists, librarians, historians, and scholars. Wouldn’t you know it- the Provo Library has most of these titles in our Special Collections area!

    Here are some of the books from their list that you’ll find at the library, which pertain specifically to early Utah history at the burgeoning of our state. These books don’t shy away from the good, the bad, and the ugly aspects of pre-statehood and give a unique and rich accounting for the shenanigans, struggles, and surprises that came with the territory and travels in the region.  

    11.7 Desert Between the MountainsDESERT BETWEEN THE MOUNTAINS: MORMONS, MINERS, PADRES, MOUNTAIN MEN, AND THE OPENING OF THE GREAT BASIN, 1772-1869
    by Michael Durham
    (1997)

    The Mormon pioneers didn’t have an isolated, ideal, conflict free life in the Salt Lake Valley. This book describes the interactions and confrontations between various groups, such as mountain men, railroad builders, Native Americans, and others who occupied the Great Basin region.    

     

    11.7 Jedediah SmithJEDEDIAH SMITH AND THE OPENING OF THE WEST
    by Dale Morgan
    (1953)

    Jedediah Smith worked as a trapper for both Ashley and Henry and the Rocky Mountain Fur Company, mapping the West as he went. His journey across the length of Utah, the width of Nevada, and blazing a trail westward through South Pass are only some of the adventures detailed within this biography.     

     

    11.7 Prostitution Polygamy and PowerPROSTITUTION, POLYGAMY, AND POWER
    by Jeff Nichols
    (2002)

    The railroads brought culture, ideas, and people West to Utah, and this included both the wholesome and the less savory. This book examines the part that prostitution and polygamy played in shaping early Utah’s economy, morality, and gender roles as it became more densely populated.    

     

    11.7 Great Basin KingdomGREAT BASIN KINGDOM: THE ECONOMIC HISTORY OF THE LATTER-DAY SAINTS, 1830-1900
    by Leonard Arrington
    (2005)

    Historian Leonard Arrington is considered to be one of the most prolific and influential writers on LDS and Western history. This classic offers exciting stories and insights into the economic development and religious movements that shaped the Utah and surrounding Great Basin area.   

     

    11.7 West from Fort BridgerWEST FROM FORT BRIDGER: THE PIONEERING OF THE IMMIGRANT TRAILS ACROSS UTAH, 1846-1850
    by Roderic Korns
    (1994)

    Originally published by the Utah State Historical Society in 1951, this book details the journey West through Utah, in excerpts from journals and reports by early explorers .     

     

    If you’ve got a Utah history project, special research interests, or a general curiosity about this or other Utah historical topics, come peruse our Special Collections volumes, many of which are rare, out of print, or hard to find titles. Visit us to learn more about the history of our great state, the people who founded it, and those that were here before Utah was Utah!

     
  •  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.

    5.10 Golden SpikeGOLDEN SPIKE: NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE 
    By Robert M. Utley
    (1969)

    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.  

     

    5.10 Railway ReflectionsRAILWAY REFLECTIONS: A HISTORICAL REVIEW OF UTAH RAILROADS 
    By  Gilbert H. Bennett
    (1999)

    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.

     

    5.10 Iron Horses to PromontoryIRON HORSES TO PROMONTORY: GOLDEN SPIKE EDITION 
    By Gerald M. Best
    (1969)

    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.

     

    5.10 Crossroads of the WestCROSSROAD OF THE WEST: A PHOTOGRAPHIC LOOK AT FIFTY YEARS OF RAILROADING HISTORY IN UTAH 
    By Blair Kooistra
    (1998)

    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
    (1973)

    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:

    NOTHING LIKE IT IN THE WORLD

    RAILROADED

    EMPIRE EXPRESS

  •  hiking with kids

    I love being outdoors and going on hikes. The sunshine, fresh air and beautiful views rejuvenate my soul. It gets a little trickier to try to enjoy the outdoors and go hiking with little kids because sometimes it turns into a big production and everyone starts whining. I really want to get out and do some exploring with my family this summer and discover some new favorite hikes. We have several great books at the library that can help in the planning.  

    4.24 Families on FootFAMILIES ON FOOT
    By Jennifer Pharr Davis and Brew Davis
    (2017)

    This book focuses on the importance of getting out and hiking as a family. This can be through a downtown city, on a paved trail or in the mountains; it doesn’t matter as long as you are walking together. It talks about how to prepare and what to take with you and then some ideas of what to do while you are hiking. Each topic divides up the information into preschool, elementary school, middle school and high school age groups so you can read the information that applies to your family. This is a great resource for families that want to enjoy the outdoors together but be aware that it is not a trail guide. 

     

    4.24 Best Easy Day HikesBEST EASY DAY HIKES SALT LAKE CITY
    By Brian Brinkerhoff and Greg Witt
    (2009)

    This guide covers the Salt Lake Valley and Big & Little Cottonwood canyons. The hikes range from short strolls to full-day dventures. Each entry includes distance, hiking time, difficulty, trail surface, best season, if dogs are permitted, and fees. It also contains a detailed explanation of how to find the trailhead and then some details of what to expect on the hike. Not all of these trails would be appropriate for kids, but the information provided will help you decide what would work for your family. 

     

    4.24 Best Hikes for Children UtahBEST HIKES WITH CHILDREN UTAH
    By Maureen Keilty
    (2000)

    My favorite part of the book is the introduction section because it gives specific information on hiking with children, from how to involve them in the planning and packing to how to get them excited about the hike. It also has recommendations of what to pack. The hikes are organized in the following groups: Wasatch and North, Uinta and Central, Southwest, and Southeast. Each hike has easy to understand symbols and important information for the hike. And the best part is every hike in the book is appropriate for the whole family from toddlers to teenagers to grandparents. 

     

    4.24 60 Hikes60 HIKES WITHIN 60 MILES: SALT LAKE CITY INCLUDING OGDEN, PROVO AND THE UINTAS
    By Greg Witt
    (2012)

    Most of these hikes would be too hard for families, but this is a great resource to find local hikes and get some ideas of things to try. My favorite part of this book is the list of recommended hikes in the front. The author divides his list into categories like hikes of 1-3 miles, hikes near streams and rivers, hikes with waterfalls, best hikes for children, best hikes for dogs, best hikes for wildflowers, best for regular workouts, etc.  

     

    4.24 Take a Hike SLCTAKE A HIKE SALT LAKE CITY: 75 HIKES WITHIN TWO HOURS OF THE CITY
    By Mike Matson
    (2013)

    Again, this trail guide has all level of hikes so you want to make sure you are informed before heading out and look for the easy hikes. There is a section in the front that lists the best 5 hikes for families. This guide includes trails around the Provo area.

     
  • UT WHistory FB 

    Women have been shaking things up in Utah since before it was even officially a state! Utah women were some of the earliest participants in the fight for women’s voting rights, they helped establish settlements and whole cities as Utah’s population grew, advocated and supplied funding for education and commerce, were active participants in the realms of art, theater, and entertainment, and have long had a hand in government and lawmaking in our great state. Basically, Utah would not be what it is without them!

    For Monday's blog post and today's, we’ve compiled a list of notable books about some of these female movers and shakers. Since March is Women’s History Month and the library is hosting a Utah women's history lecture by Better Days 2020 tonight, there’s no better time to use the resources the library provides to learn more about some of the women whose contributions make Utah such a great place to live. 

    3.11 More than PetticoatsMORE THAN PETTICOATS: REMARKABLE UTAH WOMEN 
    by Christy Karras
    (2010)

    Maybe you want to know more about notable female figures from Utah’s history, but don’t know where to start? Look no further than More Than Petticoats! Containing 12 succinct bios of notable Utah women, this book covers ladies from all walks of life, including Mormon and non-Mormon settlers, polygamy advocates and opponents, actresses who would go on to originate iconic roles, wild western women, and even a notorious “madam” (with a heart of gold, of course). These women broke through social and cultural norms of the day to better the experience of those around them and influence the path of women going forward, both in Utah and beyond.

    This title is available as a set for Book Clubs and the broad topics and varied lives and statuses of the book’s subjects lend themselves well to discussion. You can check out our Book Club set here.

     

    3.11 Mormon MidwifeMORMON MIDWIFE: THE 1946-1888 DIARIES OF PATTY BARTLETT SESSIONS 
    by Patty Bartlett Sessions
    (1997)

    Though the above mentioned MORE THAN PETTICOATS book gives Patty Barlett Sessions a chapter, this compilation of her journals is a wonderful deep dive into her life. Patty was a midwife who delivered thousands of babies, and hundreds of these were first generation Utahans. She was appointed by Brigham Young to accompany the first trek of pioneers to the Salt Lake Valley. She administered to the sick and even performed deliveries of babies along the trail.

    We know so much about her because she was a prolific journal writer, keeping records of the goings on of the day until she was 92 years old. Her entries are very matter of fact and to the point, but give valuable insight into what life was like for her, and other early Utah settlers, especially women. In addition to medical treatments and her midwifery, she planted some of Utah’s first orchards from cuttings, helped found a women’s organization in the Mormon church called the “Relief Society,” and was an early investor in the “Zion’s Cooperative Mercantile Institution” (ZCMI). Patty used the proceeds she gained from this to open a school, where she also taught classes-- at age 88.

     

    3.11 Hidden History of UtahHIDDEN HISTORY OF UTAH 
    by Eileen Hallet Stone
    (2013)

    Author and historian Eileen Hallet Stone is a Utah transplant but is nonetheless a notable woman herself! Her work uncovering hidden and forgotten Utah history stories are documented in this compilation of 58 articles she wrote for her Salt Lake Tribune column called “Living History." While not every article in this book is about women, many that are include eye catching front page worthy titles like “Physic Widow Founded Spiritualist Utopia” and “1890s, Utah’s Women Found Freedom on Bicycles."

    She includes well researched chapters on the suffragette movement in Utah, women homesteaders (including one with ties to Butch Cassidy), and Utah women’s contributions as pilots and “Rosies” during World War II. This is a gem of a book where you’ll discover many delightful and heartening stories about lesser known historical figures from Utah’s past.

     
  • UT WHistory FB

    If you’re joining us this Wednesday evening for Better Days 2020’s presentation on Utah women’s history, you’re in for a treat. Katherine Kitterman, the organization’s historical director, will be here to share stories about Utah women, especially Provo and Utah County residents, of all different backgrounds who shaped local and national history.

    If you asked a typical Utahn, they’d probably struggle to name more than a handful of significant women in Utah history. Better Days 2020 is an organization committed to changing that through art, education, legislation, and activism. Utah women have a long history of political, social, and artistic contributions, and we’re excited that this history is becoming better known.

    Today and Wednesday on the blog, we’ll be recommending a few favorite books related to Utah women's history. As you may have noticed, most of the books on the topic focus on white women, especially members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during the pioneer and settlement eras. This is somewhat understandable, given the prominence of that group in Utah’s history, but current historians, including those at Better Days 2020, are working hard to bring forward the histories of Utah women of all races, religions, and backgrounds. Look forward to some of those fascinating stories Wednesday night.

    3.11 An Advocate for WomenAN ADVOCATE FOR WOMEN: THE PUBLIC LIFE OF EMMELINE B. WELLS, 1870-1920
    By Carol Cornwall Madsen
    (2006)

    Emmeline B. Wells is a personal hero of mine and was arguably Utah’s best known women’s rights activist in her day. Utah Territory granted women the right to vote in 1870 (a right the national government rescinded 17 years later), and Utah women became some of the most outspoken advocates in the country for female political rights.

    As part of this movement, Wells served as editor of Woman’s Exponent for nearly 40 years, urged Utah’s Territorial Legislature to allow women to serve in public office, developed personal friendships with national suffragists like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, walked a precarious line between pro-polygamy Utah suffragists and anti-polygamy suffragists on the national stage, served as president of the Utah Territorial Women’s Suffrage Association, spoke internationally before the International Council of Women, and organized the Relief Society’s grain-saving program that saved hundreds of lives during World War I. In her last eleven years, Wells also served as Relief Society General President, being released at the age of 93, just three weeks before she passed away.

     

    3.11 A House Full of FemalesA HOUSE FULL OF FEMALES: PLURAL MARRIAGE AND WOMEN’S RIGHTS IN EARLY MORMONISM, 1835-1870
    By Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
    (2017)

    Ulrich won the 1991 Pulitzer Prize for History for A MIDWIFE’S TALE, which revolutionized the historian’s field with its remarkable examination of social history. In addition to being a renowned historian (and the person who coined the phrase "well-behaved women seldom make history"), Ulrich herself is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, giving her unique insight into her subject matter in A HOUSE FULL OF FEMALES. Don’t be fooled by the narrator’s mispronunciations of common Utah names and Mormon words if you listen to the audiobook – Ulrich knows what she’s talking about.

    Much of published research into Utah women's history has focused on the hotbed of political and social activism that occurred in the late 19th and early 20th century, so it’s a nice change to read about the lead-up to that time period. Ulrich is a master of reconstructing a society based on journals, letters, meeting minutes, and even quilts, and you’ll come away from this book with a much more complete understanding of regular LDS and Utah women’s experiences in the early days of polygamy.

     

    3.11 Worth Their SaltWORTH THEIR SALT: NOTABLE BUT OFTEN UNNOTED WOMEN OF UTAH
    Edited by Colleen Whitley
    (1996)

    WORTH THEIR SALT offers a glimpse into the lives of a wide variety of Utah women, some familiar, others less so. These include Indian rights advocate and diplomat Chipeta, mining queen Susanna Engalitcheff, Catholic nun and education reformer Mother M. Augusta, artist Mary Teasdel, Greek midwife Georgia Lathrouis Magera, actress Maude Adams (who originated the role of Peter Pan on Broadway), journalist and Japanese-American newspaper owner Kuniko Terasawa, and United States Treasurer Ivy Baker Priest.  

    A variety of professional historians, journalists, descendants, and enthusiasts contributed essays for WORTH THEIR SALT. It’s a collection well worth reading for anyone interested in broadening their familiarity with prominent women in Utah history.

     

    Be on the lookout for another post later this week with more recommended reads on this topic. Whether you're able to attend on Wednesday of not, we hope these books will get you hooked on the remarkable history of Utah women!

  •  Utah

    Summer vacation is right around the corner and I have to be honest and say that part of me is dreading it! I love my kids and I love having them home but after about a week I start hearing, “I’m bored!”, “There’s nothing to do!” or worse, they start bickering with each other. I am determined to make this summer different. I want to make plans to get out and discover fun things to do in the area. There is a great link on the Provo Library website of What To Do In Provo that has lots of ideas for each season. Here are several books that are perfect for planning some fun adventures. 

    5.15 PlaydatePLAYDATE WITH SALT LAKE CITY AND UTAH’S WASATCH FRONT: OVER 200 CREATVIE ADVENTURES FOR UNFORGETTABLE FAMILY FUN
    By Emily Smith Robbins
    (2014)

    This is an amazing book, full of fun color photos and tons of ideas for things to do around the area. It is broken up into the following categories:

    • Museums & More
    • Animal Attractions,
    • Historic sites,
    • Gardens & the Outdoors
    • Playgrounds & Parks
    • Hikes & Nature Walks
    • Performing Arts
    • Indoor Play Spaces
    • Hands-on Experiences
    • Amusement Parks & Fun Centers
    • Splash Pads & Fountains
    • Indoor Swimming
    • Outdoor Swimming
    • Story Time & Libraries
    • Tours!
    • Unique Adventures
    • Ski Areas & Resorts
    • Sporting Events
    • Park City
    • Heber City

    Each entry lists the address, hours, admission, parking, food rules, where to find discounts, what to expect and other nearby attractions. I seriously love this book and plan on letting my kids look through it to help plan our adventures for this summer. 

     

    5.15 Fun with the Family in UtahFUN WITH THE FAMILY IN UTAH
    By Michael Rutter
    (2004)

    This guide is divided up by regions in Utah and then within each section it divides it by cities. There are fun little facts spread throughout the book. This book is a little dated, so it would be good to double check the information on the internet before you head to one of these destinations, but it is still a good resource to get some ideas. 

     

    5.15 Outdoor EscapesOUTDOOR ESCAPES SALT LAKE CITY: A FOUR SEASON GUIDE
    By Robin Norris & Freddie Snalam
    (2003)

    This guide is divided by types of activities. You can find things like bird watching, ballooning, boating, camping, fishing, golf, hang gliding, horseback riding, ice climbing, kayaking, mountain biking, rock climbing, scuba diving, wildlife-watching, and lots of other outdoor activities. Each entry gives basic information and description. This book was published in 2003 so it would be a good idea to double check the information and make sure the venue is still open. 

     

    5.15 Salt Lake CitySALT LAKE CITY: ENSIGN TO THE NATIONS: WALKING TOURS
    By John P. Livingstone
    (2008)

    Downtown Salt Lake City is full of many historical sites. This small guide divides the city into three walking tours: Temple Square, Pioneer Business District, and Capitol Hill and Pioneer Memorial Museum. Colored boxes give the walking directions as you move from one point of interest to another. This book is full of historical facts and colored pictures.   

     

    5.15 Utah CuriositiesUTAH CURIOSITIES: QUIRKY CHARACTERS, ROADSIDE ODDITIES & OTHER OFFBEAT STUFF
    By Brandon Griggs
    (2008)

    This book is full of fun things that make Utah unique. It’s not a guide to the state, but it would definitely make a road trip more interesting.  Divided into 7 geographical areas, the author talks about interesting people, restaurants, museums and natural landforms for each area. It is a fun book to browse! We live in a pretty amazing state.

     
  • mountains

    Utah is a great place to have fun in the summer! Our website has a great list of activities and events during summer, but don’t forget to enjoy the amazing mountain ranges and hiking trails. The natural beauty of our state attracts visitors from all over the world, so you should enjoy it too!

    Waterfalls are great hiking destinations, and the surrounding area has quite a few to choose from. For an easy and beautiful hike, give Stewart Falls a try. Donut Falls in Big Cottonwood Canyon is a unique and fun experience. For the more adventurous hikers, there are Emerald Lake and Mount Timpanogos, as well as Mount Nebo and Lake Blanche.  

    Don’t forget that beautiful vistas are not the only thing to enjoy up in the mountains. Utah is full of interesting geology, and rockhounding is an interesting hobby for the Utah hikers. The mountains are also full of nature’s bounty, and foraging can be a fun pastime if you need a more immediately rewarding hiking experience. It is so satisfying to create a meal from ingredients that you picked out in the wild! Try to take someone along that is familiar with edible plants in the area to avoid any mis-identifications!  

    However you enjoy your hike, don’t forget to bring plenty of water, wear good shoes, and protective clothing. Hiking alone can be fun, but it is best to bring a buddy along, or better yet, go with the whole family! Getting away from life’s distractions is a great way to bond with loved ones and is fantastic physical exercise.  

    Whether you want to enjoy the abundant trails, the beautiful scenery, or the breathtaking waterfalls, the Provo Library has some great books to inspire your visit to the mountains!  

    Hiking the WasatchHIKING THE WASATCH 
    By John Veranth
    (2014)

    Complete with maps and black and white photographs, this is a great resource for anyone that would like to explore Millcreek, Big Cottonwood, or Little Cottonwood Canyon, as well as several other areas along the Wasatch front. Veranth discusses general hiking tips and even has a section on the history of the Wasatch Mountains for anyone interested in the geology of the area.  

     

     

    Rockhounding UtahROCKHOUNDING UTAH: A GUIDE TO THE STATE'S BEST ROCKHOUNDING SITES 
    By Garry Warren
    (2014)

    This lovely little book is full of great information and beautiful photographs to get any rock hound excited about Utah. The author divides the state into different areas and showcases different rocks that can be found there. Complete with maps and advice on rockhounding etiquette, this is a great pick for anyone looking for a new outdoor hobby.  

     

     

    Best Hikes with DogsBEST HIKES WITH DOGS UTAH 
    By Dayna Stern
    (2013)

    Ok, this book is just adorable! And perfect for anyone that loves to hike with their four-legged best friend. The first section has tips and etiquette for hiking with dogs on any trail. The rest of the book lists a great number of trails ranging from northern Utah all the way to Southwestern Utah with everywhere in between. Grab your pet and upgrade your walk to a great hike outdoors.  

     

     

     

    Edible Wild PlantsEDIBLE WILD PLANTS
    By John Kallas
    (2010)

    Whether you are a foraging enthusiast or simply have a budding interest in botany or gardening, this book is for you. John Kallas covers a wide variety of wild greens and informs the reader about important stages in plant development. Each plant described in this book has its own chapter filled with beautiful color photographs, maps, and engaging description to help even the most novice of enthusiasts. Kallas even provides information about poisonous look-alikes, as well as nutritional information. With this great reference in hand, a wild food adventurer can up their game both in the wilderness and in the kitchen.