Current Issue

Summer 2022 Utah Historical Quarterly

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In This Issue

In the opening essay of this edition of Utah Historical Quarterly, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich casts a critical eye on the memories handed down about the 1862 murder of Olivia Coombs in Beaver, Utah. Rather than dwell on the man who committed the crime, George Wood, Ulrich seeks to understand the episode through historical fragments and family stories. What emerges is a portrait of not only Olivia but also of her descendants, who struggled to remember and tell the unspeakable tale. Opening with Juanita Brooks’s brief if incomplete reference to the murder in The Mountain Meadows Massacre (1950), Ulrich masterfully interrogates snippets of tangled family lore and relationships, the connection between memory and storyteller, and the circumstances that motivate the retelling of stories such as the Coombs murder.

The second essay introduces readers to Mabel Frazer and a sexual misconduct case directed against her male colleague in the University of Utah’s Art Department. Based on information that her own students had confided in her, Mabel Frazer approached university president George Thomas in 1937 with claims that A. B. Wright had engaged in improper sexual conduct toward women students. Emily Larsen and Heather Belnap carefully walk readers through the context and contours of the claims, including the gender power dynamics that then privileged—and continue to privilege—Wright’s version of events over Frazer’s. The authors also document the negative repercussions that Frazer faced after filing the complaint with the university president.

A caution to readers that these two articles may contain content disturbing to some readers—the first for depictions of murder, in this case of a sexual nature, and the second for descriptions of sexual misconduct and reproductions of nude artwork.

The next two essays make varying associations between history and place. Brenda Scheer, a scholar of urban design and planning, contributes to the ongoing conversation in the pages of this journal about the configuration of Salt Lake City. Rather than look solely at the design and original layout, Scheer introduces readers to on-the-ground alterations within the city center. Based on the methods of urban morphology, which look at the elements of urban form and their changes over time, this piece provides compelling insights into what may be seen as disjuncture between original design and practical adaptations in Utah’s capital city.

In a somewhat like manner, James Swensen reflects on whether place names—in this case, biblical and LDS religious names—conformed to the realities and character of their associated towns or landforms. Swensen’s subject is Daniel George’s photographic documentary series God to Go West. Through the marriage of names, landscapes, and history, with Swensen as guide, readers will come away with deeply incised impressions of the “Mormon Landscape.”