Research Our Records

Explore Exhibits Online

The Utah State Archives curates collections of various records series around particular themes or concepts and creates virtual exhibits for the public to explore. These exhibits are designed as visual-verbal experiences for the viewer to scroll through and interact with at their leisure, as if walking through a museum exhibition and reading the plaques next to the displays. Each exhibit contains a detailed explanation of each topic and record, with links to relevant holdings in the State Archives and sources cited for further reading.

Colorado River Records

With over 40,000 digitized documents covering 100 years of history, the Colorado River Compact collection might feel overwhelming. A great place to dive in is with our digital exhibit! Created as part of our 2022 Archives Month campaign, Assistant Director Jim Kichas provides a breakdown of the monumental negotiations that started in 1922 and are ongoing to this day. Learn more about the complexities involved with managing water resources in the West.

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Colorado River Records Exhibit Poster

Pioneer Jubilee

This exhibit examines the documents of Utah’s Pioneer Jubilee Celebration, on which today’s modern Pioneer Day celebrations are based.

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1897 Pioneer Jubilee Poster

Utah Statehood 125: 1896-2021

President Grover Cleveland issued the proclamation that officially welcomed Utah into the Union as a state on January 4, 1896. Utah had been working towards this goal since 1849, when newly-arrived white settlers first petitioned Congress for statehood. They petitioned a total of seven times over those forty-five years.
In 2021, the Utah State Archives celebrated this anniversary by exploring the history of the road to statehood—from the obstacles that held Utah back, to the seven petitions for statehood, and the celebrations that took place after statehood was granted—all told through records held in our permanent collection.

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125 utah statehood sign

Food in the Desert

Before Utahns could take a trip to an all-inclusive market like Harmons, there were a variety of local grocers, butchers and bakers in Salt Lake City that brought the goods right to customers’ homes. These ornate receipts, called billheads, give a glimpse into the kinds of food and sundries that people were buying and how much they were paying for those goods.

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Farmer going through plucked tomatoes to sell

The Story of Lester Wire

An intimate glimpse into the life of the Utah police officer Lester Wire, the inventor of the electric traffic light.

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Police officers in front of ambulance in 1918

100 Years After the Castle Gate Disaster

On March 8, 1924, explosions in a Castle Gate coal mine changed the lives of over one hundred families in Carbon County, Utah. A headlamp ignited methane gas, which in turn incinerated airborne coal dust and caused an explosive chain reaction killing 172 people. There were no survivors. The disaster left 110 widows and 264 dependent children. Governor Charles Mabey realized the Castle Gate community needed additional aid and called for the public subscription of a relief fund for the widows and children.

The Utah State Archives holds the records of the Castle Gate Relief Fund Committee, among other records that tell the story of the disaster. The records follow the families dealing with the loss of a loved one, and the supporters who rallied to help them. Governor Mabey appointed nine prominent businessmen and citizens of Carbon County to oversee the distribution of the relief fund. The committee was active from 1924 to 1936.

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a group of orphans after the castle gate disaster

Suffrage and the Stories of Utah Women

The year 2020 was an especially important anniversary for women’s suffrage in Utah. It marks the 100th anniversary of nationwide suffrage and 150 years of Utah suffrage. In 1870, the territorial legislature granted women the right to vote, only the second state or territory to do so (after Wyoming in 1869). The bill had its final passage on February 12, 1870. There happened to be a municipal election in Salt Lake City just two days later, so the very first woman to vote in the modern United States was Seraph Young on February 14, 1870.

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Women Suffragists

Historical Boundaries

See how the boundaries of Utah have changed over time.

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Utah Red Rocks

Utah State Parks

In 1957, Utah’s legislature created the State Park and Recreation Commission to review the state parks and to formulate a long-term plan, “to the end that the health, happiness, recreational opportunities and wholesome enjoyment of life of the people may be further encouraged.”

In 1959, their official report (view online) outlined all of the existing parks and identified a number of new parks that could be created. Today, the language of the law has changed and our parks might not be exactly what the original commission imagined in the 1950s. Yet, as the Utah Division of Parks and Recreation celebrated their 60th anniversary in 2017 (now known as the Division of State Parks and the Division of Outdoor Recreation), we searched our records to show how their agency has fulfilled that original mandate.

This exhibit will take you through Utah’s current and previous state parks, providing images that highlight the “wholesome enjoyment of life” millions of park visitors have been able to enjoy. Look out for Former State Parks Map, showing parks that are no longer state parks for a variety of reasons.

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kodachrome basin state park Utah park of the month award