Utah history

When novelist Ella Joy Olsen set out to write her first book, she wanted a topic close to home. And what could be more tangible then the walls surrounding her? Olsen’s first book is an imagined genealogy of her house, exploring the lives of five women who occupied the same space over a century. We’re using Olsen’s work as a jumping off point to talk about how the history of our houses effects the way we live in them today.

During World War II, 8,000 German prisoners of war were interned in Utah. Many of them worked alongside American civilians on the state’s farms and factories, where unlikely friendships and lasting memories were created between sworn enemies. In a new documentary film, filmmaker Scott Porter explores this little-known chapter in Utah history, the end of which was marked by a tragic massacre in the rural town of Salina. Porter joins us Tuesday to talk about his film. It’s called Splinters of a Nation.

Thursday, we’re telling stories of legendary Utah Symphony conductor Maurice Abravanel. The Maestro led the symphony for 32 years with the philosophy that good music should be available to everyone. He created a pioneering education program and built the orchestra into an internationally renowned recording powerhouse with some 120 albums. Former associate conductor Ardean Watts and retired cellist Carolee Baron will join us to talk about the life and musical passions of Maestro Maurice Abravanel.

Downwind

Oct 15, 2015

Thursday, we’re talking about the effects of nuclear weapons on people who lived near uranium mines and downwind from testing sites during and after the Cold War. Historian Sarah Alisabeth Fox says that all wars happen where people live, grow their food and raise their children. So to understand what happened, she talked to ranchers, farmers, and housewives who suffered from cancer and economic ruin. Fox is coming to Utah, and joins Doug to talk about “A People’s History of the Nuclear West.”

Latinos in Utah

Feb 23, 2015

Monday, we’re talking about history and change in Utah’s Latino community. There is a long presence of Mexican-Americans in the region: this was Mexico when the pioneers came into the valley after all. But the economic boom of the 1990s brought many immigrants into the state, and with it a diversity of people from Central and South America. As part of the Hinckley Institute of Politics’ Siciliano Forum on US-Latin American Relations, we’re asking what those changes mean for the Latino community and for Utah.

In 1850, Salt Lake City welcomed the birth of its first newspaper. The Deseret News has been a part of Utah’s history ever since, making it the oldest gazette west of the Missouri River. The Salt Lake Tribune was a thorn in its competitor’s side for decades, especially in the early days, when its stated purpose was to oppose Brigham Young. Historian Will Bagley joins us Monday to explore the rivalrous and colorful histories of the two newspapers as their future together hangs in the balance. 

The Rocky Mountains have always posed a forbidding obstacle for travelers, but there’s one place where "God ran out of mountains," and passage is relatively easy.  For generations, Indians, fur traders, missionaries, and explorers moved through South Pass, a treeless valley in southwestern Wyoming. It’s a place rich with history and extraordinary tales, and it's the focus of historian Will Bagley's latest book. He joins us Tuesday to explain how South Pass figured in the development of the American West.

Spanish Gold

Jul 23, 2013

Utah legend tells of caverns filled with caches of Spanish Gold hidden before the arrival of Escalante and Dominguez. Since then, there have been those who have hunted for lost treasure, and some even claimed to have found it. Wednesday, we're telling and hearing the tales of golden caches hidden in Utah's mountains and we'll see how they stack up to the academic history of our state’s past. (Rebroadcast)

Beehive Spirits

Oct 28, 2012

For a state with a reputation as a teetotalling territory, Utah has a surprisingly rich history of pouring a drink. At one point in the 1800s, Utah was home to some of the biggest breweries in the nation, and two-thirds of the state’s revenue came from alcohol sales. Prohibition put an end to that party. The past couple decades, however, have seen a resurgence in local brewing and distilling. A new documentary profiles Utah’s history with alcohol as well as three modern-day pioneers who’ve helped stock the state with suds and spirits.

The Utah War

Jul 23, 2012

In the spring of 1857, President James Buchanan appointed a non-Mormon governor for the Utah Territory and sent troops to enforce the order. Armed skirmishes between the Mormon militia and the U.S. Army followed, and the roughly year-long conflict is now known as the "Utah War." Doug speaks with LDS Church Historian Richard Turley as well as independent historians Will Bagley and David Bigler about this pivotal moment in Utah history. (Rebroadcast)