One More: A Legacy of Works

Most of the rock wall that borders the east side University Street from 100 South to near 400 South was built by WPA workers during the Great Depression. (Photo by Photo by Dave Titensor)

Most of the rock wall that borders the east side of University Street from 100 South to near 400 South was built by WPA workers during the Great Depression. (Photo by Dave Titensor)

Of the thousands of students who have walked along University Street next to the rock wall that outlines the western edge of the University of Utah campus, few realize that it and many other structures they see and use all the time are the result of federally funded projects during the Great Depression of the 1930s. The U.S. government created programs in those years to try to put people back to work by allocating federal funds to finance jobs, buildings, and other projects. The University of Utah received its share of these projects through the Works Progress Administration, which provided funding for unemployed workers.


The WPA rock wall extended to the corner of the University of Utah campus where Carlson Hall once stood. (Photo courtesy Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah)

Utah in 1933 had an unemployment rate of 36 percent, the fourth-highest in the country, and between 1932 and 1940, the state’s unemployment rate averaged 25 percent. The percentage of Utah workers on federal work projects was far above the national average. At the U, the WPA arranged for employment for more than 700 students, with projects proposed by University department heads. The jobs ranged from working as laborers on buildings and grounds to being readers, library and museum assistants, cafeteria workers, and lab and research technicians. Students could thus work off a portion of their tuition, but the campus benefited, as well.

For the majority of the projects, the U would provide the materials and the WPA would pay for the labor. From 1935, when the WPA was established, through 1941, the expenditure at the University on such projects was $726,988, with the WPA providing $450,320 and the U contributing the remainder.

The projects included leveling and landscaping 89 acres of the campus, with numerous trees and shrubs planted and a sprinkling system installed. Campus streets were extended, graded, and surfaced with the aid of borrowed state equipment. Several tennis courts were constructed, and larger sewers were laid, along with new water mains, gas pipelines, steam lines, and power lines. Several miles of curbing and guttering were constructed, along with extensive concrete and masonry retaining walls, including the stone wall along University Street.

The look of the lower, historic campus of the University of Utah owes much to those long-forgotten WPA programs.

Roy Webb BA’84 MS’91 is a multimedia archivist with the J. Willard Marriott Library and a regular contributor to Continuum.

One More: Practical Preparation

Students at the University of Utah in the early 20th century could study practical matters including horseshoeing, as in this blacksmithing class at the U. Photo courtesy Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah

Students at the University of Utah in the early 20th century could study practical matters including horseshoeing, as in this blacksmithing class at the U. (Photo courtesy Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah)

The University of Utah is now known for research programs that plumb the depths of space and the intricacies of the human body, but there was a time when University coursework took a more practical turn. A hundred years ago, the University offered vocational classes in such subjects as radio repair, carpentry, auto mechanics, and even horseshoeing.

Vocational training programs at the U started during World War I, with the establishment of the Student Army Training Corps (SATC). When the United States entered the war in 1917, the government wanted to engage the young ranks of college students, and it established an SATC branch on campuses so that young men could receive training in fields that would benefit the armed forces. The SATC lasted only a few months, and the students were discharged and the corps demobilized shortly after the war ended in November 1918.

The impetus for practical, vocational training, however, lasted longer. By 1919, the University of Utah was meeting with federal representatives to establish a summer vocational school curriculum under the aegis of the Smith-Hughes National Vocational Education Act, a law passed in 1917 that helped fund secondary school training in the various states in home economics, trades, industries, and agriculture. Vocational programs flourished at the University during the 1920s, and by 1937, along with diesel mechanics and aeronautics, courses in mining were offered. For female students, home economics courses were available.

After World War II, vocational training in Utah was gradually shifted to the newly established community colleges and the Utah Agricultural College, which in 1957 became Utah State University. Today, though students and others can take U Continuing Education classes in practical matters such as organic gardening, the only remnants of the U’s once-thriving vocational training programs that have survived into the modern era are old historical photos, of students repairing tractor wheels, building telephone lines, and yes, even shoeing horses.

Roy Webb BA’84 MS’91 is a multimedia archivist with the J. Willard Marriott Library and a regular contributor to Continuum.

Web Exclusive Photo Gallery

[nggallery id=105]

One More: An Icon’s Centennial

University of Utah faculty, staff, students, and supporters gather for an event on the steps of the University’s Administration Building shortly after its completion. The building’s dedication ceremony was in October 1914. (Photo courtesy Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah)

University of Utah faculty, staff, students, and supporters gather for an event on the steps of the University’s Administration Building shortly after its completion. The building’s dedication ceremony was in October 1914. (Photo courtesy Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah)

It was the morning of October 8, 1914, and students and visitors gathered in front of the newly completed University of Utah Administration Building to form a procession for the dedication ceremony. They went on to gather in the men’s gymnasium on campus, where William W. Riter, chairman of the state Board of Regents, presided, and Anthon Lund, a member of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, gave the dedicatory prayer. W.N. Williams, a state senator, then spoke to the audience, as did Utah Governor William Spry. The U’s male quartet, choir, and orchestra provided the music.

The building was considered to be one of the most artistic and well-appointed college buildings in the West. After some wrangling, the state Legislature had agreed to appropriate $300,000 in 1909 for the building, and construction began in 1912. Cannon & Fetzer and Ramm Hansen were the associate architects who had charge of the design and construction. The classical-style edifice was made of Utah granite and limestone, and the facings of the first floor and stairway were of Alaskan marble.

The new building had opened on June 2, 1914, during Commencement week. The main floor housed administrative offices and reception rooms, the campus bookstore, and editorial offices for The Utah Chronicle. The library of the University filled the second floor, with a reading room that extended the length of the building. The collection of 50,000 volumes was the largest book collection in the state. The top floor of the building was devoted to art and archaeology. The art gallery displayed not only the best work of Utah’s leading artists, but some originals by American masters. The archaeological museum contained an extensive collection of artifacts. The building also required construction of a new heating plant on campus, and its tall smokestack rose nearby.

At Commencement ceremonies in the summer of 1919, the building was renamed the Park Building, in honor of John R. Park, a physician and educator who had been president of the University of Deseret, the predecessor of the University of Utah, from 1869 to 1892. In addition to his contributions as a leader of the University, upon his death in 1900 he had bequeathed his entire fortune, including his library, to the U. The new building contained a marble statue of Park, by Utah sculptor Mahonri Young.

As the campus expanded over the years, many entities once housed in the Park Building received their own buildings and moved out, while the leadership and legal offices remained. In 2009, an $8 million renovation and seismic retrofitting was completed, and the Park Building remains a center of the University of Utah, visually, historically, and administratively.

—Roy Webb BA’84 MS’91 is a multimedia archivist with the J. Willard Marriott Library and a regular contributor to Continuum.

Web Exclusive Photo Gallery

[nggallery id=73]

One More: The Campus Rostrum

A speaker attempts to hold forth on the Rostrum in 1915, a time of turmoil over free speech issues at the University. (Photo courtesy Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah)

A speaker attempts to hold forth on the Rostrum in 1915, a time of turmoil over free speech issues at the University. (Photo courtesy Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah)

A big chunk of rock has been part of University of Utah campus history for a century, yet its whereabouts during some of that time remain a mystery. The Rostrum, a large granite boulder, started out as a feature in a pep rally for a 1913 football game against the University of Colorado at Boulder. Festooned with a “Bust Boulder” sign, the rock was loaded onto a wagon by freshmen and paraded around Presidents Circle. The parade continued through downtown Salt Lake City, where the boulder fell off the wagon and onto the streetcar tracks. It was shoved aside and later was moved to a spot near the flagpole in front of the U’s Park Building (then under construction). Since freshmen were required to wear green beanies as a mark of their lower-classmen status, the boulder soon sported a coat of green paint and the year of their class. U administrators and upper classmen, however, weren’t pleased, and the freshmen were required to clean off the paint and numbers and construct a concrete base for the boulder. A few years later, the Rostrum had taken on such an air of tradition that the junior class affixed a bronze plaque near the boulder with the year of their graduation, “1916.”

The Rostrum had by then begun serving its namesake function of providing a place for public speaking. For Senior Chapel Day in 1915, a crowd gathered to hear the junior class perform “the burial rites of the rightly deceased Seniors,” according to the Utonian yearbook. Also in 1915, a time of great turmoil at the U regarding free speech issues, a group of “Democratic speakers” attempted to hold forth on the rock but were told to leave the campus by the U’s president, Joseph Kingsbury, according to a satirical account in the Utonian. A 1955 Daily Utah Chronicle article noted: “Here it was that all candidates for school office could have their say by simply standing on the rock. A crowd gathered immediately to hear the speech-maker.”

The tradition of painting the rock in the school colors—crimson with a large white U—also became firmly established over the years, but the Rostrum was still frequently splashed with green paint by the freshmen, only to be repainted. In 1937, the Rostrum was moved away from the flagpole, where it could be painted without endangering infrastructure.

By 1944, though, the repaintings had become nightly, rather than annual, with “nurses, Army, and neighborhood vandals” visiting the rock to make their mark, even covering it with stripes or polkadots, according to the Chronicle. U administrators decided to move it into a glass case in the basement of the Park Building. But the move didn’t stop the painters. Staff members came in one day to find that the glass had been removed and the rock once again painted green.

By 1946, the rock had become such an annoyance that some administrators wanted to remove it and “bury it in a field,” the Chronicle noted. In 1953, the Chronicle wrote that the rock had been taken to the mountains and dumped several years earlier. Nonetheless, it (or a replacement) was brought back to the base of the flagpole, only to be removed yet again, however, and this time supposedly “destroyed by dynamite.” A 1964 Chronicle article notes that a new boulder was placed in Presidents Circle, while “the original rock has never again appeared, but is believed to be buried somewhere on campus.”

By 1967, students were again being urged to use the Rostrum as a speaker’s platform. “Many are the student voices searching for a platform, and you don’t have to buy a press or rent a building to use the rock,” the Chronicle wrote. “It is one school tradition we shouldn’t lose.”

Questions remain regarding possible whereabouts of the original Rostrum. But in historical photos from 1915 to 1991, the rock appears identical. So if it was removed from campus in the 1950s, was the same rock at some point recovered and returned to a place of honor on Presidents Circle? The Rostrum sits there still, if you want to wander by and take a look.

—Roy Webb BA’84 MS’91 is a multimedia archivist with the J. Willard Marriott Library.

Web Exclusive Photo Gallery

[nggallery id=66]

One More: Remembering Carlson Hall

Photo courtesy Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah

Carlson Hall was one of the first dormitories in the western United States to be built for women. (Photo courtesy Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah)

In the first decades of the University of Utah’s existence, students lived off campus in rented rooms in boarding houses or private homes and commuted to campus by riding the Bamberger and other trolleys or by walking. But the University’s first dean of women, Lucy Van Cott, who served from 1907 to 1931, had long dreamed of a dormitory for female students. As U President George Thomas noted, “For some reason, there is a disposition not to accept women as readily as men in boarding houses.” It was not until the Great Depression that Van Cott’s dream was realized, however.

Prior to her death in 1933, Mary P. Carlson in 1931 had made a bequest of more than $120,000 to the University in honor of her late husband, August W. Carlson. He was a Swedish immigrant who had become treasurer of the Z.C.M.I. system, a director of the Zion’s Benefit Building Society, and director of the State Bank of Utah and the Deseret National Bank. He had also served as a member of the Board of Regents of the University of Deseret, the precursor to the University of Utah. In 1911, he had a heart attack on a hotel veranda while on vacation with his wife in Santa Barbara, California, and died. His wife, who was from England, never remarried. They had no children.

After her bequest to the U, the University administration approached the Public Works Administration, a New Deal agency, and it provided a further $90,000 in funding to allow the creation of the new women’s dormitory. The building, named Carlson Hall, was completed in the late summer of 1938. Carlson was the first residence hall on the University of Utah campus, and one of the first in the western United States to be built for women.

Planned for 80 students, the dorm’s interior design was by noted artist and designer Florence Ware, who also painted the murals in Kingsbury Hall. The rooms at Carlson Hall were furnished in Early American style, but the sun room on the third floor was more modern. The dormitory also featured a dining hall and a “date room,” where escorts of Carlson Hall students were expected to wait for the young women.

Carlson Hall served generations of women students, but the wave of new students on campus after World War II meant that other housing for students, both men and women, had to be found. After other residence halls were built on campus, Carlson Hall was converted to offices and classrooms in 1971. The decision was not without controversy, however. Brigham Madsen, who served as the U’s administrative vice president from 1967 to 1972, remembered meeting with the law dean in Carlson Hall’s dining room. At the end of the meeting, “the door opened suddenly and about a dozen of the women residents marched in in single file, dressed in the flowing robes of classical Greece, each bearing a lighted candle, and with the last two women bearing Mrs. Carlson’s portrait draped in black. They were absolutely silent as their ghostly procession circled around us,” Madsen wrote in his unpublished autobiography, a copy of which is in the U’s Marriott Library.

In 1996, Carlson Hall was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. But by 2012, as the U was planning its new College of Law building, Carlson Hall was deteriorating and in need of costly seismic upgrades and remodeling for handicapped accessibility and code compliance. U administrators decided the best option would be to replace it with a new structure, and this past summer, Carlson Hall was torn down to make way for the new law building. But Carlson won’t be forgotten: The new law building will feature a display of commemorative items from the U’s first residence hall.

—Roy Webb BA’84 MS’91 is a multimedia archivist with the J. Willard Marriott Library.

Web Exclusive Photo Gallery

[nggallery id=56]

One More: Dinosaur Caravan


The crowds lining Salt Lake City’s Main Street were eager; a buzz of anticipation ran through the throng. “The dinosaurs are coming!”

Soon the mounted police escort appeared, followed by 19 old-time freight wagons loaded with large blocks of plaster that looked like white boulders. The date was Wednesday, September 17, 1924, and the wagons were the “Dinosaur Caravan,” bringing fossils from the quarry at Dinosaur National Monument in eastern Utah to the University of Utah for display in the University Museum, which was housed in what is now the James Talmage Building on the U’s Presidents Circle.

The fossils were part of a trove discovered in 1909 by Earl Douglass, a paleontologist with the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The museum had funded the excavations at the site for 13 years. But by 1922, the museum decided it had enough fossils and ended its claim to operate the quarry. Douglass, still employed by the museum, stayed at the quarry in 1923 and 1924, and worked with the National Museum (which was part of the Smithsonian Institution) and with the University of Utah, as they both sought fossils at the quarry.

Douglass had spent six months supervising the selection and excavation of specimens for the U, but then a problem arose: how to get 60,000 pounds of fossils—five separate species, including a Diplodocus, Stegosaurus, Ceratosaurus, Brontosaurus, and an unknown type— from eastern Utah to the University. There was no railroad, roads were primitive at best, and there were no trucks that could carry such loads.

The U instead turned to large freight wagons, which had been used for years to supply Fort Duchesne and the towns of the Uinta Basin. The wagons and teamsters were assembled, the fossils loaded, and the train started creaking its way west.

Led by “Uncle John” Kay, a Vernal resident, it took the Dinosaur Caravan nine days to travel the 210 miles from the quarry, north of Jensen, Utah, to Salt Lake City. Their route included a ferry crossing of the Green River and followed what today is U.S. 40 and Interstate 80. They reached Draper, in the south end of the Salt Lake Valley, on September 16.

The next day, a ceremonial entrance for the caravan had been arranged at the U. “All along the line of the parade there were large throngs gathered to watch the picturesque procession,” the Salt Lake Telegram wrote. The caravan headed up State Street to 900 South, made a jog over to Main Street to South Temple Street, and then turned to go to the Park Building at the University, where they were met by U President George Thomas.

The Dinosaur Caravan drew attention from newspapers and magazines across the country. The fossils took several years to clean and mount, supervised by Douglass, who joined the University staff in 1924. Those fossils remain on exhibit at the U, in the Natural History Museum of Utah.

Roy Webb BA’84 MS’91 is a multimedia archivist with the J. Willard Marriott Library.

Web Exclusive Photo Gallery

[nggallery id=47]

One More: Planting the Future

Generations of University of Utah students have strolled down a shady, brick-lined pathway on the western edge of campus known as Cottam’s Gulch. It’s named for the late Walter P. Cottam, a professor of botany at the University for more than 30 years and an outspoken advocate for conservation nationwide. Cottam’s efforts helped lead to the later creation of both Red Butte Garden and Arboretum and The Nature Conservancy. Because of him, the entire U campus is a state arboretum and serves as the arboretum portion of Red Butte Garden.

Cottam was born in St. George, Utah, in 1894, and received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Brigham Young University. After completing his doctorate at the University of Chicago, he returned to Utah and taught at BYU for 12 years. In 1931, he moved to the University of Utah, where he spent the rest of his career and used the campus land for plant research.

Cottam’s early advocacy for conservation—especially his 1947 groundbreaking lecture, “Is Utah Sahara Bound?”—brought him national attention. In the lecture, he argued that overgrazing was turning Utah into a desert—an assertion that angered powerful farmers and ranchers. But time has shown the value of his research, and many of his suggestions have since been adopted. “It was largely through Dr. Cottam’s efforts that land practices changed and conservation became a reality in Utah,” the Deseret News wrote in his obituary in 1988.

Cottam was one of the co-founders of the Ecologists Union, which later became The Nature Conservancy. In Utah, he was instrumental in seeing that lands at the mouth of Red Butte Canyon were set aside for a research center, which later became part of Red Butte Garden. And at his request, the Utah Legislature established the State Arboretum of Utah on the University of Utah campus in 1961.

Cottam retired from the University in 1962, and toward the end of his career, his tireless work on behalf of Utah’s native landscape was recognized with many honors, from organizations such as the Utah Foresters Club; the Ecological Society of America; the National Council of Garden Clubs; and the Utah Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters.

After retiring from the U, Cottam began his work on the hybridization of oaks, combining two different species of oak to produce hardy hybrids, which can now be found all over the United States.

Besides Cottam’s Gulch on the U campus, the Visitors Center at Red Butte Garden is named for him. His classes on wildflowers of Utah are fondly remembered by generations of University alumni. And the U’s campus is graced by hundreds of beautiful trees from all over the world, many of which Cottam himself planted.

—Roy Webb BA’84 MS’91 is a multimedia archivist with the J. Willard Marriott Library.

Web Exclusive Photo Gallery

[nggallery id=42]

One More: Pioneer in Sound

The first person to create a practical method of recording and playing digitized sound was the University of Utah’s own Thomas G. Stockham, Jr., an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science.

Stockham was a pioneer in many facets of computer science, including computer graphics and the development of the Internet, but it is as the developer of digital recording and playback that the world owes much to his genius. His work helped pave the way for compact discs, iPods, and digitized sound in videos and video games.

“He won not only the respect of his peers but also major honors from the entertainment industry he helped to transform,” The New York Times wrote in his obituary in 2004.

Stockham was born in New Jersey and received bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He began working on early efforts toward digitized sound soon after he became an associate professor at MIT in 1957.

When Stockham came to the University of Utah in 1968, he focused on finding a practical way to digitize music. He and his students in the U’s Computer Science Department developed methods of digital signal processing.

Stockham demonstrated the fruits of his research by digitally processing and restoring RCA’s entire collection of early 20th-century recordings of the famous Italian tenor Enrico Caruso. RCA began releasing the series in 1976. Later that year, Stockham made the first live digital recording, of the Santa Fe Opera.

At the height of the Watergate hearings, Stockham was one of a panel of six experts convened to examine the Watergate tapes. He discovered that the famous 18-minute gap in a crucial Watergate tape made in President Richard M. Nixon’s office was caused by at least five separate erasures and rerecordings. The findings led to the tapes being turned over to Congress.

Stockham left the University in 1975 to found Soundstream, Inc., the first digital recording company in the United States, located in Salt Lake City. The company developed new digital audio recording technologies for professional use—innovations that laid the groundwork for later technologies such as the CD and the DAT (digital audio tape).

Stockham returned to the U in 1983 and was honored with its Outstanding Teacher Award in 1986. He left the U in 1994, when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

The accolades continued to pour in for his landmark accomplishments. He had won an Emmy award in 1988 for his digital audio and editing systems. He received a Grammy award in 1994 for his “visionary role in pioneering and advancing the era of digital recording.” And he received an Oscar from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1999, for his “pioneering work” in digital audio editing.

—Roy Webb BA’84 MS’91 is a multimedia archivist with the J. Willard Marriott Library.

Web Exclusives

This archival video shows U professor Thomas G. Stockham, Jr., demonstrating his process for digitizing a recording by the Italian tenor Enrico Caruso:


Photo gallery:

[nggallery id=35]

One More: A Monumental Tradition

The Block U of the University of Utah is said to be not only the first such symbol placed on a hillside by a university, but one of the largest.

It has its origins in a class competition. In April 1905, the sophomore class at the University laid out and painted a giant “07” on the side of Mount Van Cott, easily visible from the University campus. Not to be outdone, the freshman class replaced the numbers with “08,” and for a time the numbers changed as often as students could scramble up the hill with buckets of lime.

The lights of the icon shine on a recent fall evening. (Photo by Nathan Sweet)

Cooler heads proposed that instead of numbers, a giant “U” be put on the hill, “as an emblem of loyalty to the whole school,” according to an account in the Utonian yearbook. One spring day shortly after this decision was reached, almost the whole student body turned out to haul buckets of lime from a nearby kiln to replace the dueling numbers. But by the spring of 1906, the snow and rain had all but washed it away. It was refreshed that year by 600 students who handled about 5,000 buckets of lime, but it was obvious that unless they wanted to redo it every spring, a better solution was needed.

In 1907, Stayner Richards, the student body president, proposed that the “U” be constructed of concrete and whitewashed each year. This was met with enthusiasm, and with the help of a water wagon drawn by spans of U.S. Army mules borrowed from Fort Douglas, the “U” was laid out. The massive size of the symbol, 100 feet wide by 100 feet tall, meant that it took two days and part of a third for the men of the student body to mix and pour the concrete.

After that, whitewashing the concrete “U” became a hallowed campus tradition every April, and hundreds would participate in the annual ritual. In the 1960s, to make it visible at night, lights were installed. But by the end of the 20th century, the “U” had fallen prey to the ravages of Utah winters and was in poor condition. University administrators and alumni rallied to save the “U,” raising more than $400,000 in a campaign to renovate it. In October 2006, an official lighting ceremony was held during the halftime of a football game between the University of Utah and Texas Christian University.

The new “U” is not only stabilized on its hillside, with a diversion dam and a drainage system to protect it from melting snow, it also has flush-mounted lights that can flash red and white, and be dimmed or brightened as the need arises. The lights are controlled by a wireless signal that emanates from a control panel located in the Merrill Engineering Building. Today, all members of the University community can be proud that the symbol can be seen all over the Salt Lake Valley. As former U president David Gardner once put it: “It flashes when we win a game; it burns steady in defeat.”

—Roy Webb BA’84 MS’91 is a multimedia archivist with the J. Willard Marriott Library.

Web Exclusive Photo Gallery

[nggallery id=30]

One More: Evolving Fort Douglas

Like many U.S. Army posts established for monitoring the frontiers, Fort Douglas has seen its share of American history. The fort was founded on the east bench of the Salt Lake Valley in October 1862 by a regiment of California Volunteers under Colonel Patrick Connor to guard the overland mail (and, legend has it, to keep an eye on the Mormons). Fort Douglas this year is celebrating its 150th anniversary, and that history has entwined with the University of Utah’s own.

The post has sent Army units marching off to the Indian Wars, the Spanish-American War, and World Wars I and II. In the late 1800s, a unit of African- American soldiers, the 24th Infantry (one of the Buffalo Soldier regiments), was stationed at Fort Douglas. During World Wars I and II, Fort Douglas served as a training and recruitment depot, with thousands of troops passing through its gates on their way to far-flung battlefields. The fort also housed prisoners of war during both conflicts: German sailors captured in the Pacific in the first World War, and German and Italian POWs in the second. The present University soccer field, in fact, is the location of the World War II POW camp, and several prisoners from both wars are buried in the Fort Douglas Cemetery.

The land that the University and Fort Douglas presently share originally was declared “University Square” by an act of the Territorial Legislature in 1855, but with the coming of Connor’s Volunteers, it was absorbed into the Fort Douglas military reservation. Then, in 1894, shortly before Utah became a state, the University was granted 60 acres of the Fort Douglas Military Reservation for expansion. That acreage formed the core of the present University of Utah campus: Presidents Circle and associated buildings on the west side of the campus.

During World War I, the large red brick barracks currently occupied by the 96th Army Reserve Command were built, and during World War II, Fort Douglas became a major U.S. Army base and headquarters for the network of camps where Japanese-American citizens were interned. The end of the war saw the 9th Service Command moved back to the West Coast, and the Army announced that Fort Douglas would be closed.

Finally, in 1989, the fort was officially closed, and by 1993, the buildings and grounds, except for those still in use by the U.S. Army Reserve, had been transferred to the U. In anticipation of the 2002 Winter Games, the grounds of Fort Douglas were chosen as the site of the Olympic Village, and new dormitories were built. Today, Fort Douglas remains a treasured part of the University of Utah.

—Roy Webb BA’84 MS’91 is a multimedia archivist with the J. Willard Marriott Library.

Web Exclusive Photo Gallery

[nggallery id=25]

A Skier’s Paradise

The U’s ski archives document events that have made Utah’s slopes the envy of the world.

Norwegian skier Alf Engen came to Utah in 1931, and the state—and its reputation as a tourist destination—soon were forever changed. Engen set numerous ski records throughout the 1930s and was a tireless promoter of and advocate for the Beehive State’s powdery slopes. In the above photo, he performs a textbook example of a double-pole turn at Alta, the Utah ski resort where he established a renowned ski school.

The University of Utah’s S. Joseph Quinney Outdoor Recreation Archives—known as the Utah Ski Archives—has been documenting the legacy of Engen, who died in 1997, as well as the history of skiing and other winter recreation in Utah and the Intermountain West. “The Utah Ski Archives is internationally recognized as one of the largest and most significant publicly available research collections on the history of skiing in the United States,” says Joyce Ogburn, dean of the Marriott Library.

In 1989, the staff of the library, with financial support from the Quinney Foundation (named for Joe Quinney, founder of Alta Ski Area, and his daughter Janet Quinney Lawson ex’44) began collecting photos, films, oral histories, scrapbooks, business records, posters, books, magazines—anything and everything—about Utah’s ski heritage. Since the archives’ founding, the Marriott Library has had a close and productive partnership with the Utah Ski Archives Board, an all-volunteer group of people who share a love of winter recreation. Every period of Utah history is documented, from old-time mail carriers on eight-foot-long snowshoes to world-class jumping tournaments in the 1930s. Parts of the collection also reflect the founding of Alta, Brighton, Park City, Snow Basin, and other Utah ski areas, as well as the development of snowboarding as a major player in the snow sports industry.

—Roy Webb BA’84 MS’91 is a multimedia archivist with the J. Willard Marriott Library

[nggallery id=1]

Rivalry Revisited

A new era marks the return of an old opponent.

The Utes take on an unidentified team, circa 1900-1929.

With the move of the University of Utah into the Pac-12, sportswriters are already making much of a potential Utah-Colorado rivalry. But the rivalry has a long history, going back more than a hundred years. The first athletic contests against a Colorado university were in 1902 (when both Utah’s football and track team triumphed), and from there, the rivalry only accelerated. In 1907, Utah’s football team lost to the University of Colorado by a score of 24-10, “completely overwhelmed by the onslaught of the Boulderites, supported by their five thousand loyal rooters,” per a 1909 Utonian (the U’s now-defunct yearbook). In 1908, a headline in the Utah Daily Chronicle (as the paper was known then) proclaimed of the team, “Utah outplays Colorado,” and went on to say that “[Utah Coach Joseph H.] Maddock’s men overwhelm confident, proud rivals in spectacular contest… amid cries of enthusiasm and shrieks of joy ringing from four thousand throats.” During the 1915-1916 football season, Utah again defeated the University of Colorado, as well as every team from other institutions in that state, as part of Rocky Mountain Conference play. In basketball, Colorado declined to even play Utah in 1919, citing specious concerns about interfering with the Buffaloes’ baseball and track training. Colorado football came roaring back in the 1920s, frequently defeating Utah on the gridiron, but the rivalry extended to all sports: baseball, basketball, swimming, wrestling, and skiing. Utah and Colorado were even adversaries in debate, with teams from Utah and Colorado arguing such topics as child labor, centralization of the federal government, and literacy tests for immigrants. The competition was going strong all through the years up to World War II, but by the 1950s, the U’s rivalry had begun to shift away from Colorado to BYU. This year’s move to the Pac-12 isn’t creating a new rivalry, but renewing a long-standing one. Will the rivalry continue when Colorado and Utah meet again on November 25?

—Roy Webb BA’84 MS’91 is a multimedia archivist with the U’s J. Willard Marriott Library.

Bedside Manners

The U’s College of Nursing has evolved to become one of the best in the nation.

Nursing students and instructor, circa 1954

Even though the University of Utah’s medical school was established as early as 1905, a College of Nursing didn’t appear until many years later. Those interested in pursuing a nursing career (at the time, almost exclusively women) could take various basic classes at the U, and Perry Snow, the dean of the Medical School, noted in a 1916 article in The Daily Utah Chronicle that “efforts are being made to establish co-operation between the medical school and the local hospitals in order that University women will be able to study the fundamental branches of trained nursing here.” However, the idea failed to gain much traction, and no such agreements were promptly reached. Impetus came in the form of America’s entry into World War I in 1917 and the worldwide influenza epidemic that began shortly thereafter. In 1919, funding for nurse training was offered by the federal government, and a Department of Hygiene, Sanitation, and Nursing was established at the U. By 1920, there were 61 students, and a Chronicle headline announced, “Charming Nurses Will Be Trained at University.” U of U President George Thomas championed a nursing college, but the effort stalled when federal funding ended. Eventually, an agreement was reached with LDS Hospital and Salt Lake General Hospital to help student nurses gain practical experience. It took another worldwide conflagration—the Second World War—to revive the idea of establishing a College of Nursing at the U. In 1941, a Department of Nursing Education was formed, and the next year, with the U.S. fully committed to the fighting, demand for nurses skyrocketed. That year the University created courses that could lead to a bachelor of science degree in nursing education. By 1944, there was a Student Nurses Club on campus, and the U.S. Public Health Service was subsidizing nursing education at four local hospitals. These programs were so successful that in May 1948, President A. Ray Olpin recommended that a separate College of Nursing be established. The first dean was Hazelle Baird Macquin, who had been head of the Department of Nursing Education, and the new school was housed in a temporary building at Fort Douglas. By 1965, the College of Nursing had 32 full-time faculty and was offering master’s degrees in maternal care, pediatrics, and other specialized subjects. Finally, on November 1, 1969, the new University College of Nursing Building was opened, giving the nurses their own permanent home. Today the U’s College of Nursing graduates more than 200 registered nurses per year (including numerous men—25 percent of those receiving a bachelor’s in 2009-10 alone), and it is recognized around the world as one of the leading schools in the profession.

—Roy Webb BA’84 MS’91 is a multimedia archivist with the J. Willard Marriott Library.

Spring Fervor

Celebrating a Time of New Growth and Regeneration

Photo courtesy Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of  Utah

Holding a celebration on the first of May is an ancient tradition in many parts of the world. Likewise, the end of winter has long been a time of festivities at the University of Utah. After a long, cold winter, students and faculty alike are eager to get out of doors and celebrate the renewal of spring. In a 1913 article in The Daily Utah Chronicle, “May-Day Festival Exciting Interest,” preparations for the event were described as “more elaborate this year than for any party heretofore presented by the girls….” Each “coed” was also required to “wear a dress and hat of her own creation… [the fit of which] must be essentially modest.” Not only students and faculty were “heartily in sympathy” with the festival; the Utah State superintendent of schools and officials from other local educational institutions were also invited. A highlight of the celebration was the choosing of a May Queen to preside over the festivities, as shown in this 1925 photograph. The celebratory tradition has carried on, transformed into the current fete RedFest, held in fall. (When the U moved from quarters to the semester system, students were no longer on campus in May, so Mayfest was moved to Fall Semester, and the moniker was eventually changed.) But the urge to make merry with the arrival of spring (and the end of the academic year) remained, so several years ago, the Associated Students of the University of Utah established the Grand Kerfuffle, an all-day outdoor concert that now takes place annually on campus in late April.

—Roy Webb BA’84 MS’91 is a multimedia archivist with the J. Willard Marriott Library.