Division of Archives and Records Service

Showcasing Uintah County’s Civic Engagement

Mahala Ruddell
April 22, 2021

Each spring, the Utah State Historical Records Advisory Board (USHRAB) seeks applications from Utah’s non-profit, local, and state government institutions for grant funds of up to $7,500 to support records preservation and access. The Board’s grant program is funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission at the National Archives, whose mission is to promote the preservation and use of America’s documentary heritage essential to understanding our democracy, history, and culture.

The Uintah County Regional History Center (RHC) is located in Vernal, Utah, and serves as an important resource for preserving and making accessible the regional history of the Uinta Basin. The RHC maintains collections of local history and exhibits, and offers education programming for schools and families in the area. In the spring of 2020, the RHC was awarded a grant of $1,732 to preserve and prepare research tools for its scrapbook collection.

Scrapbooks on shelf
The Uintah County Regional History Center is home to an extensive scrapbook collection documenting the area’s civic clubs.

The RHC’s scrapbook collection features materials from local civics clubs, including the Vernal Historical Society, the Uintah Historical Society, the Merry Miss Club, the Beaux Arts Club, the Vernal/Uintah County Progressive Business Women, the Cowbelle’s Club, the Current Topics Club, the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Dinosaur Gardens Service Club, the Federated Women’s Club, and the Good Samaritan Club. The majority of these clubs were most active between about 1950 and 1990. Civics groups like these are often vital resources in rural communities, serving as social outlets and support, networking, and financial support for areas with otherwise somewhat limited resources and small populations.

The scrapbook collection is locally significant as a record of the business and activities of these many clubs. The kind of history recorded in a scrapbook is often very different from that recorded in more formal narrative histories, making scrapbooks unique glimpses into the everyday goings-on of these clubs and their members. Highlights include newspaper clippings, agendas, membership rosters, notes and letters, memoranda, photographs, and more. These scrapbooks document the positive difference that these groups made in their communities and demonstrate the good that comes from civic engagement.

As we are all very well aware, the past year has been a challenging one. The RHC was awarded their grant only a few months into the COVID-19 pandemic and, as with most 2020 USHRAB projects, was unsure of the effects the pandemic would have on their project. Project leader and RHC director Sam Passey reported, “At one time or another during this pandemic each of our staff members has been impacted by COVID-19 and we’ve been on a rotating quarantine and isolation, it seems.” Yet despite this challenge, work proceeded on schedule.

As of this past winter, the RHC had completed its physical processing of these scrapbooks, including re-housing the books in archival boxes, which will limit wear and tear on the books over time and extend their life. Additionally, the scrapbooks have been cataloged in the Uintah County Library’s catalog. The RHC has since been hard at work this spring creating finding aids for the collection and migrating information into their new collections management system, PastPerfect.

A long-term goal of the Regional History Center is to digitize these scrapbooks, making them available for researchers and the general curious public to view online. Digitization is also an important preservation tool, as it allows for collections to be viewed without needing to access the physical materials, thus extending their life. 

To learn more about the scrapbook collection, visit the RHC’s website or browse their catalog!

The USHRAB’s grant program is funded by a State Board Programming Grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission at the National Archives. The USHRAB assists public and private non-profits, as well as non-Federal government entities throughout the State of Utah in the preservation and use of historical records.

Credit: Text adapted from the Uintah County Regional History Center’s 2020 application for grant funding from the USHRAB, and interim project report.