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Project calls for more historic artifacts from Utah residents

By Paul Nelson | Posted - Oct 24th, 2013 @ 7:47am

SALT LAKE CITY — Several libraries are teaming up to piece together a more complete picture of Utah's history, and they're asking the public for help in doing it.

The Mountain West Digital Library is designed to be an online portal of historical documents, photos and facts about the region. Hundreds of entities have come together to put the MWDL together. Since its creation, hundreds of thousands of historical pieces have been digitally added to the system.

MWDL Director Sandra McIntyre said, "Typically, we've had our partners in the university libraries pack up a van full of scanning equipment and take it to one of the public libraries in their area."

McIntyre believes there might be a lot more that could be added to it. These historical artifacts may be in boxes inside attics or basements all over the Beehive State.

"We suspect there are many more thousands of items that people have not thought about in terms of how valuable they are to share with the world," she said. "(These) things seem particular to a certain family's history but in fact have a lot to say about how our region has developed over time."

Sharing your items
Until the end of the month, people can bring their artifacts to:
  • Utah Valley University Library
  • Harold B. Lee Library at BYU

So far, they've had 200 and 250 scanning events in their drive to bring more data into the program. Some of these items include handwritten letters from the late 1800s, type-written family histories, pedigree charts and journals. One person even brought in a ticket from a ship that brought people from England to the U.S.

Officials with the MWDL said people may be hesitant to bring in what they have, not knowing if it fits the timeframe they're looking for. But they encourage people to bring them in, anyway.

"We're particularly interested in pioneer-era materials about westward migration into this region," McIntyre said. "To share those items would be top open up a whole new chapter in our history, we think."

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