National Archives Month, 2014

October is National Archives Month. Throughout this month, archives and archivists raise awareness about their collections through different exhibits and events. The Salt Lake County Archives is currently working on an online exhibition that will highlight records in our collections on houses that have long since been torn down but hold keys to rich Utah history.  This exhibit is still in the works but until then we would like to honor all archivists, interns, historians, and volunteers who collect and preserve our history.

While doing research in our tax ledgers on microfilm, it was discovered that someone’s hand had been captured during the process of filming the record. Archivists strive hard to ensure they leave no marks or evidence behind that they have handled a record. However, this image serves as a reminder of the countless hours and hard work that many archivists, interns, volunteers, and others have invested to ensure that these records are available for future generations to come.  So let this nameless hand be a reminder to us all how thankful we are that our history is being looked after so well.

Hand image for Archives Month 2014 post

Salt Lake County Tax Ledgers on microfilm

~Entry contributed by Tarienne Mitchell, Salt Lake County Archivist.



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Last of the Porch Days

As it is now officially Autumn, this image is a reminder to get outside (maybe on your front porch?) and enjoy the few warm days that are left to us this season.

16-08-256-018 965 S. McClelland St.

965 South McClelland Street, circa 1936.

Source: Salt Lake County Tax Appraisal Photographs, parcel 16-08-256-018.

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Lost Building: The New Keith Hotel

122 East South Temple, photograph taken in 1939.

122 East South Temple, photograph taken in 1939.

The New Keith Hotel was built around 1902 and stood at 122 East South Temple. It was demolished in 1964 to make way for the University Club building.  This photograph was taken in 1939 and is from the Salt Lake County Tax Appraisal Photographs, serial 1-2682.

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Abandoned Wives in West Jordan

Petitions to the County Commission, Series CM-333, Box 21, Folder 11.

Petitions to the Salt Lake County Commission. Series CM-333, Box 21, Folder 11.

Sometimes we open an old archives box for review and preservation purposes only to find that it contains records outside of the time frame shown on the label affixed by the original box creator. This is the case with a petition from 1874 that was found within a box thought only to contain records from between 1902 and 1915. The petition was not the only one from earlier in the 1800s, but it was the most personal.

Archibald Gardner submitted a petition on August 11, 1874 to the Probate Court of Salt Lake County seeking aid for a family in need. At some time prior to the petition Elisha W. Van Etten had abandoned his three wives and seven children in West Jordan, leaving them with little means of support. According to Gardner, Van Etten did own various livestock but had let them roam free and his family did not have the ability to collect and care for them. Gardner requested that Samuel Bateman, who may have been the brother-in-law of one of Van Etten’s wives, be appointed to help the family work the livestock.

A Gardner Petition Page 3

The Archibald Gardner who wrote this petition is probably the same man that was a successful builder of mills, canals, tunnels, and bridges in Utah. He served as a leader in the LDS Church, as the county recorder and later in the Territorial Legislature. West Jordan’s Gardner Village is named in his honor and was the location of one of his mills.

Elisha W. Van Etten may be the Elisha Wheat Van Etten who served in an 1861 expedition to survey Uintah Basin ordered by Brigham Young. He was apparently also known as a sheep herder, bringing 253 Spanish Merino sheep to Utah in the 1853 and importing livestock from Canada in 1873. There are also a couple of probate cases against him, the last one for refusing to pay school taxes for 1871 & 1872, recorded in August of 1873. A search of various ancestry sites finds unverified claims that he left Utah in 1874 with one of his five wives and moved east to Iowa.

An article in the Salt Lake Herald printed the day after Archibald’s petition was written describes Van Etten’s alleged illicit activities leading up to his escape east. It accuses him of selling the sheep that had been entrusted to him by others and failing to pay creditors, leaving a bill totaling about $10,000.

No further information regarding any resolution to Gardner’s petition has been found as of yet.

-Contributed by former Salt Lake County Archivist, Vincent Fazzi. 


Salt Lake County Archives, Petitions to the County Commission, Series CM-333, Box 21, Folder 11.

Salt Lake County Archives, Probate Court Civil and Criminal Case Files, Series 373, Reel 23, Box 17, Folder 19, Case 319.

Utah Digital Newspapers, Deseret News 1873-04-23 

Utah Digital Newspapers, Salt Lake Herald, 1874-08-12

Utah Historical Quarterly.Summer 2005, Volume 7, No.3, page 253 

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A Lady never reveals her age….

Recently discovered in the Salt Lake County Oaths of Office, where most men and women were required to write their age on their oath of office documentation, Flora B. Jones only admits to being over 21. The mark of a true lady blessed with the powers of persuasion.

Jones Bond001

Salt Lake County Oaths of Office, series CL-331. January 3, 1927.

 -Contributed by Tarienne Mitchell, Salt Lake County Archivist  

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Distinguished Public Service

A retired Salt Lake County employee will be receiving NASA’s highest civilian honor, the Distinguished Public Service Medal. Patrick Wiggins educated thousands of Utah residents about astronomy during his career at the Hansen Planetarium (now Clark Planetarium), from 1975-2002. Leaving the Planetarium did not end his mission to continue in public service; he joined the Solar System Ambassadors, volunteer educators that spread the word about space. It is his dedication to this service that earned him the honor from NASA.

To put this achievement in perspective, previous winners of the Distinguished Public Service Medal include Carl Sagan and Neil deGrasse Tyson.

And while William Shatner also received the Distinguished Public Service Medal from NASA this year (well, I guess he did teach us about tribbles), the County Archives sends out a big Huzzah! to Patrick Wiggins on receiving this most deserved recognition!

Check out this Salt Lake Tribune article and interview with Patrick Wiggins about his Public Service Medal.

Wiggins 1993 HP series PL-013

Patrick Wiggins educating the public at the Hansen Planetarium, 1993.

The above image of Patrick Wiggins (third from the right) at work in the Planetarium in 1993 is taken from the Hansen Planetarium Historical Records Collection, housed at the Salt Lake County Archives.


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Farewell to our Director

EPSON DSC picture

July 1, 2014 marked the retirement of Terry Blonquist Nelson, Director of Salt Lake County Records Management and Archives. Terry’s career in archives and records management spanned almost 38 years (37 years and 11 months, to be exact!).

Terry started her career at the Utah State Archives, working in the micrographics section. Over the years, she worked for the Utah State Archives in the records management, public reference, records center, and preservation sections. As the Reference and Record Services Manager, she coordinated the consolidation and move in 1990 of over 80,000 cubic feet of records, staff, and merging functions of two Records Center locations into one facility.  She also assisted with the 1984 move of the Archives from the basement of the Capitol to an offsite location.

New hire Terry Ellis, Salt Lake County Commission Minutes, May 6, 1996.

Welcome to new hire Terry Ellis. Salt Lake County Commission Minutes, May 6, 1996.

In May of 1996, Terry became the head of Salt Lake County Records Management and Archives. Terry not only directed the Records Management and Archives programs, but was also records compliance officer for all of Salt Lake County government, ensuring compliance in federal, state, and local laws and ordinances governing records. This involved coordinating the activities of the Government Records Access Management Policy Administration (GRAMPA) and serving as the County’s HIPAA privacy officer. (GRAMA, GRAMPA, and HIPAA were her middle names for many years).

Throughout her career, Terry was very active in both records management and archives professional organizations, including serving as President and Vice-President of the National Association of Government Archivists and Records Administrators. She was also President and Vice-President of the Conference of Inter-Mountain Archivists, and held many positions in the Association of Records Managers and Administrators, Association for Information and Image Management, and the Utah Manuscripts Association. In 2010, she was asked to be a participant in the Global Archives Delegation to South Africa, extending her role as an archives ambassador on an international level.

Terry also influenced innumerable archivists and records managers through her national and local presentations, workshops, and committee work. She has the unique ability to easily communicate complicated ideas and make them understandable by any audience, translate “archive-speak” to the general population, and decipher complicated records laws and legislation. She can also make any project seem achievable, no matter how formidable it may first appear.

Thank you, Terry. You will be greatly missed.

Terry and historical photos (2)

Terry creating a Salt Lake County history exhibit for the Utah State Fair.

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