Utah State History Announces 2016 Annual Awards

Salt Lake City ‐ The Utah Division of State History announced its 2016 Annual Awards as part of the 64th annual Utah State History Conference. The awards will be presented Chairwoman of the Board of State History chair Dina Blaes at conference events this week.


In making the announcement, Utah Division of State History director Brad Westwood said, “The 2016 Award winners are extremely strong and laudatory. They include the best book and articles in Utah History amid much competition. I urge Utahns to seek out these award winners, which include compelling, well‐written and entirely new contributions to understanding Utah’s past.”

 Outstanding Contribution in History Awards

The Outstanding Contribution in History Awards are for a lengthy period of excellence.

  • The Utah State Capitol is receiving an Outstanding Contribution Award for the stewardship of the Capitol by multiple agencies for over 100 years. This project is arguably the most significant rehabilitation project every completed in Utah. The scale and complexity of the project is unmatched, especially considering the vast number of stakeholders involved.
  • Thomas Carter has contributed to the study and understanding of Utah’s built history for over 35 years. His contributions to Utah history are both broad and deep. He pioneered the study of Utah’s vernacular buildings, teaching all of us how to document and analyze buildings in a new way – a way that illuminated important social meaning. Tom’s work has filled a large gap left in all the classic studies of American vernacular architecture. In nearly every textbook, the discussion of folk housing is centered in the eastern United States with (perhaps) only brief discussions of Native American structures in the Southwest.  Tom Carter changed all of that.
  • William Davis and Debbie Westfall have supported archaeology and cultural resource preservation in San Juan County and throughout Utah for over 30 years. Through their work as federal and state archaeologists, private consultants and private citizens, they have worked tirelessly to document the archaeology of the region, to educate the public in the significance and value of archaeological resources, and to protect archaeological resources for the benefit of all. Together, Bill and Debbie have authored and co-authored over 300 major and minor technical reports and over a dozen published reports and articles. Some of the important contributions to Utah archaeology include excavations at Westwater Canyon, White Mesa, Lime Ridge Clovis Site, and the Bluff Great House.

 William P. MacKinnon Award

Each year, William P. MacKinnon generously provides funds to further the professional development of a meritorious employee of Utah State History. This year, the William P. MacKinnon award goes to Donald Hartley, a historic architect for 27 years.


Historical Article Awards


The Helen Papanikolas Award goes to the best college or university student’s paper on the subject of “Women’s History in Utah.” This year’s award goes to Joseph Rulon Stuart, a University of Utah PhD student for his paper, “’A Great Many of the Sisters Wept Silently and Seemed to Feel Worse than the Brethren’: Gendered Religion and Religious Disappointment.” In this paper, Stuart combines solid research with sophisticated methodology to understand how Latter-day Saint men and women reacted differently to polygamy and the Woodruff Manifesto of 1890.


The LeRoy S. Axland Award goes to the best Utah history article appearing in a publication other than the Utah Historical Quarterly. This year’s award goes to David Rich Lewis, “Skull Valley Goshutes and the Politics of Place, Identity, and Sovereignty in Rural Utah.” This article appeared in in Bridging the Distance: Common Issues of the Rural West, edited by David B. Danborn, (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2015) Lewis’s skillfully argued chapter looks at the debate over hazardous waste storage in rural Utah, specifically the Skull Valley Goshute’s 1997 agreement to store high-level radioactive waste. Though the arrangement would have brought needed jobs, it was extremely controversial, pitting many different people against each other. It was, as Lewis writes, “an Indian story and a tale of the modern rural West,” showing the “frustrating choices” faced in rural landscapes.


The Dale L. Morgan Award goes to the best scholarly article appearing in the Utah Historical Quarterly.  This year’s winner is Bruce W. Worthen for his “‘Zachary Taylor Is Dead and in Hell and I Am Glad of It!’: The Political Intrigues of Almon Babbitt.” Published Utah Historical Quartely, Spring 2015. Worthen uses letters, speeches, and newspapers to recreate a political drama in 1850s Utah. At the center of the drama was the self-interested Almon Babbitt, a lobbyist for the Mormons in Washington, DC. Babbitt’s maneuverings hindered Mormon efforts for statehood and contributed to a growing rift between the federal government and the Mormons that would culminate in the Utah War of 1857.


The Charles Redd Center for Western Study Award goes to the best general interest article appearing in the Utah Historical Quarterly. This year’s award winner goes to Christine Cooper-Rompato for her article, “Women Inventors in Utah Territory.” Published Utah Historical Quarterly, Summer 2015. Cooper-Rompato provides much insight into what these patents tell us about nineteenth-century America and the private and public lives of women in Utah. 


The Nick Yengich Memoral Editors’ Choice Award goes to the Utah Historical Quarterly article selected by the editors as their choice for the year. This year’s award goes to Marshall E. Bowen for his article, “The Russian Molokans of Park Valley.” Published Utah Historical Quarterly, Summer 2015. Box Elder County was once home to an unlikely group of settlers: members of a Russian sect known as the Molokans. Persecuted in their own land, the Molokans scouted for places to live in North America. Marshall Bowen’s article introduces readers to five Molokan families who temporarily settled in Park Valley, Utah


Historical Book Awards


Utah's highest and most prestigious Book award, The Francis Armstrong Madsen Award for the best book in Utah history, published during 2015, goes to W. Paul Reeve for his excellent bookReligion of a Different Color: Race and the Mormon Struggle for Whiteness, published by Oxford University Press.


Reeve applies the insights of race and whiteness studies to the nineteenth-century Utah and Mormon context. He argues that the Protestant majority marginalized Mormons as not only a religious “other” but as a racial “other”—as a group physically distinct from the white mainstream—a “new race” of degenerate religious fanatics. This well-executed book enriches the way we conceive of Utah and Mormon history as well as contemporary racial issues that we face today.


Meritorious Book Award

This year we are also pleased to announce the winner of our meritorious book award: Charles S. Peterson and Brian Q. Cannon, authors of The Awkward State of Utah: Coming of Age in the Nation, 1896-1945, published by the University of Utah Press.


Honorary Life Member of the Utah State Historical Society

An Honorary Life Member is one who has provided a “distinguished service to the State and the Society,” including service and leadership over a long period of time. This year, Curt Bench has been selected. Bench is the owner Benchmark Books, a rare and used bookstore specializing in Mormon and Utah-related history. For over thirty years Mr. Bench has served the historical community by acquiring and selling historic books, offering a space for historians to speak and showcase their work, and encouraging Utah, Mormon, and western history scholarship.  


Fellow of the Utah State Historical Society

State History’s most prestigious honor is presented to individuals with long and distinguished careers in scholarly research and writing in, or who have made an extraordinary contribution to state history, historic preservation or archaeology.


Our honoree is Jeffery Ogden Johnson. From 1988 to 2002, Mr. Johnson was the official Utah State Archivist. In that position he was responsible for maintaining and cataloguing the historical records of a wide variety of Utah government departments, offices, and individuals. 


Prior to that he worked as an archivist at the LDS Church Historian’s Office, where he returned to work after his retirement from the State. There he helped to preserve and make available to scholars documents belonging to Utah’s dominant religion. Among his professional activities, he has served as president of the Conference of Inter-Mountain Archivists. Mr. Bergera writes that Johnson’s “support of scholarship helped to set the stage for the LDS Church’s current program of increased accessibility to its collections.”